My yoga mat and I go back about two and a half years. It was a Black Friday sale that started it all… I’d sworn I wouldn’t buy anything as an anti-consumerism protest, but then an email came through from a local yoga shop. Half price, reduced from £50 to £25. I did need a new mat, and why pass up an offer and end up paying more the next day? It was the start of a great relationship.
A good mat improves your practice, and it makes practice easier and more fun. Downward dog suddenly stops being about “how do I avoid sliding in this pose?” to “how can I find more ease in this pose?”. You stop having to have flexion in your shoulders to be able to stay in place and start being able to straighten out and open up. It gives you confidence that you won’t slip.
So, if you’re looking for yoga mat advice, here’s my tuppence worth…
- Consider the type of yoga practice you do and the requirements you have. Do you do a lot of flow yoga where you’re in downward dog and warrior a lot? If so, find a mat which has a little grip – your downward dog will thank you. (If you are doing hatha yoga avoid sticky mats. You want grip without stickiness.) If you decide on a mat with some grip then consider the texture you prefer. Lululemon and Lifeforme mats have smooth surfaces but great grip. The Calyana mat I have has a textured surface and great grip.
- If you kneel a lot in your practice then consider the quality and thickness of the mat so that you get protection for your knees (yoga should help your body not cause new problems). Cheap yoga mats are generally 3 or 4mm thick and will compress to almost nothing when you stand or kneel on them. But a quality mat won’t do this. Mine is 4.5mm thick but because it’s made of a good material it doesn’t flatten when I kneel on it and so gives great protection for my knees for crescent moon poses, camel and various lunges.
- How tall are you? You want a mat that is long enough that your whole body is on the mat when you lie down. A lot of the cheaper mats are about 173cm or 5’6”. Longer mats of 185cm or 6 foot long are also available.
A cheap yoga mat will set you back less than a tenner and it’s a fine way to start while you work out if yoga is for you. But long term, a little investment goes a long way and makes your yoga practice so much more rewarding.
It’s good to bear in mind that a wider, thicker mat may not fit into your current yoga bag and a higher quality mat will almost certainly be heavier than a basic, cheap mat. But, all that being said, to me, it’s absolutely worth the extra money and the extra weight being carted around between classes. I wouldn’t go back.
Ekotex yoga (based here in Edinburgh) also have what they call “factory seconds” – high quality yoga mats that have slight flaws so that they can’t be sold at full price. I’m on the mailing list for notifications for when they come into stock. If you’d like me to let you know when they become available drop me an email and I’ll add you to my list 😊