Are you committed to practicing yoga regularly? Consider investing in a yoga mat. Using your own mat eliminates unpleasant surprises from shared studio or gym mats, such as gamey odors and struggling to prevent your hands from sliding forward while you’re in adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog). Poor mat traction puts one at risk of slipping and falling. At the very least, it makes concentration on the breath and correct alignment difficult. Having your own mat is more sanitary, reducing the risk of exposure to germs. Cushioning between the body and floor is a big benefit of yoga mats, especially for those with tender spots. A yoga mat can help you improve your balance, as well as provide insulation against cold floors, keeping your body warm and safe for stretching. Be sure to buy the correct mat length, so that both your head and feet rest on the mat during savasana (corpse pose). Extra long mats are available in many of the following brands for tall yogis. In response to popular request, here’s my review of the yoga mats on the market.
Eco-friendly and/or Rubber mats: Jade, Gaiam, PrAna, Kulae
- Pros: High traction, eco-friendly. Kulae is latex-free.
- Cons: Strong new mat smell (which eventually dissipates), most are pricy, heavy to carry.
Basic mats: Gaiam, Hugger Mugger
- Pros: These are your run-of-the-mill mats at most studios and gyms. Sufficient as a first yoga mat. The thicker ones provide more cushioning. Lightweight.
- Cons: Wears down over time, not eco-friendly, may contain carcinogens, can become slippery when sweating copiously.
Textured mats: Gaiam, PrAna, HuggerMugger
- Pros: Some are eco-friendly, supposed to provide good traction however it failed for me.
- Con: Feels rough, poor cushioning, attracts cats for claw-sharpening.
Travel mats / mat towels: Skidless by Yogitoes, Gaiam YogaMate, PrAna Synergy Towel Mat, Jade, Manduka, Kulae, HuggerMugger
- Pros: lightweight, machine washable, can be packed into a suitcase, good traction on carpeting, provides a germ barrier between a rental mat and your body, absorbs sweat, some are eco-friendly.
- Cons: Poor traction unless you sprinkle water on it prior to practice, no cushioning.
Dedicated mats: Manduka Pro and Pro-Lite
- Pros: Lifetime guarantee, good cushioning, high traction.
- Cons: Heavy to carry, pricey, not eco-friendly (though it does have a lifetime guarantee, the idea being ‘til death do you and your mat part).
Yoga mats are as personal as underwear. There is a different fabric and style for everyone. Still undecided? Click on the Contact tab to request further guidance. May anywhere that you unroll your mat be your hOMe.
© 2013 Amy Dara Hochberg. All rights reserved.