Yoga Mat Purchasing Guide
Shopping for your first yoga mat or even just replacing an old one was a lot easier ten years ago, but today we have more than one option and more than one style of yoga.
Today the experience can be an overwhelming. Your choices are the various materials, sizes, and thicknesses.
Our basic information will cover each of these aspects and more, and should make the decision process a little bit simpler.
As you read this, be mindful of the style of yoga you practice. The yoga mat you choose should reflect that experience.
If you're new to yoga you should be looking more at basic, entry-level mats. If your changing or moving on to a new form of yoga, your yoga mat will need to change too.
The differences in materials may seem simple at first, but they are very important when you practice yoga. The yoga mat and you need to feel balanced when you practice. Consider each of these options thoroughly before you seek out one particular type of material:
- PVC: This is the most popular used yoga mat and is found in yoga studio worldwide. This basic yoga mat is a perfect entry-level mat, the mats are made of polyvinyl chloride, (PVC). This material offers good durability, stickiness, and comfort. This mat has proven performance as a yoga mat. PVC mats are a large open cell design which give them their plush softness
- TPE Foam: Is the eco-friendly version of PVC mats, foam yoga mats offer the same performance characteristics, but with the feel and grip of rubber. TPE ( thermoplastic elastomers) mat are a denser material at a thinner thickness uneasily about 3mm to 5mm. This type of mat works better in a humid climate or hot style of yoga
- Rubber: A popular choice among eco-friendly yoga mats, a rubber yoga mat is a solid denser alternative to a foam TPE mat. Rubber mats contains latex. This type of mat works better in a humid climate or hot style of yoga the only drawback is the smell.
- Cotton: These are the traditional yoga mats, cotton yoga mats are thin and eco-friendly. They're also commonly used on top of other yoga mats to provide the support. Cotton absorbs sweat well and actually increases grip when wet.
- Jute: Similar to TPE and Rubber yoga mats, and usually made with a TPE or Rubber backing. jute offers the same sustainability and resiliency. Jute yoga mats have excellent traction and superior support. However, jute is a more fibrous material which is a bit rough, but will give a very good grip when wet.
Yoga Mat Thickness
There are many mat thicknesses, but the main three sizes are ¼=6mm, 1/8=4mm and 1/16=2mm. The differences between the three are quite significant. If a yoga mat is too thin, certain poses may be hard on your knees and joints. If a mat is too thick, it will be difficult to maintain your balance and hold a pose. Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each thickness:
- 3/8" = 8mm thickness: Generally, the thickest a mat will be is 3/8 or 8mm". Higher-end, premium mats will typically be this size to offer the best comfort and support. With more cushioning, however, the added weight about 8 lbs will make the mat less portable.
- 1/4" = 6mm thickness: The ¼ or 6mm mat is the most commonly used today, This size is used in most yoga studios, and is typically the best at comfort and supportiveness. The mats are perfect size and will fit in any standard yoga bags.
- 1/8" = 4mm thickness: This is the most commonly used thickness for Pilates and not commonly used in yoga anymore.
- 1/16"= 2mm thickness: Considered a travel mat. If you're constantly on-the-go, you should consider it as the ultra-portable solution. 1/16" = 2mm yoga mats will fit in any yoga mat bag or suitcase with room to spare.
Mat Lenght & Width
The standard yoga mat is 24" x 68", but the length and width can vary, the width will usually remain 24" but can be as wide as 28”, length can be as long 72" and 74", but a few yoga mats are as long as 84". While most yogis will fit on a standard-sized mat (24" x 68"), taller yogis may need t a little longer mat.
The best way to see if a yoga mat is the right size is to try to do a downward-facing dog pose on a standard yoga mat. As long as your hands and feet are securely on the mat, then the length is sufficient.
Similar to stickiness, a yoga mat's texture also helps you maintain balance and proper alignment. Rubber or jute yoga mats have added grip from the raised textures and will help keep your poses secure no matter how sweaty you get. For smoothness and additional comfort, PVC mats are your best bets. Just be aware that these mats may not offer adequate grip when wet.
Stickiness is a measure of how well your feet stick to the mat that helps you hold your pose and maintain proper alignment. PVC and foam mats have the some of highest stickiness factor when dry, while rubber and jute have a moderate amount, but will hold better when wet. Cotton yoga mats have virtually no stickiness.
Style of Yoga
One of the major factors in helping you decide the right yoga mat is the type of yoga you plan on practicing. If you're new to the world of yoga, a basic yoga mat will work fine at first. However, if you already have some favorites, they should play a significant role in helping you determine your next yoga mat.
Keep in mind the style of yoga you practice and the prop you may use, from sticky gloves and socks to chairs; all can affect the yoga mat. Some yoga mats like PVC can easily be damaged by these types of props.