So, I have been thinking of getting myself a new yoga mat. Looking back to when I got my first mat, I didn’t put much thought into it probably because the selection of yoga mats back then was so limited. Today manufacturers have come out with so many different types that it is overwhelming to choose which one to buy.
My first yoga mat was a Reebok rubber mat which turned out to be a good buy. It has lasted me over ten years and it still serves me well. I have been teaching yoga outdoors and as a result the mat has acquired difficult to remove marks. It is still in amazing condition and going forward will become my outdoor yoga mat once I get a new one.
Shopping online has been overwhelming, today you get rubber mats, suede mats, cork mats, cotton mats and who knows what else. My mat has been awesome, the grip is good, the thickness is just right and it’s so easy to clean. I just wash it in the bathtub with a bit of soap water then lay it outside to dry on a sunny day.
So far, I have tried out a cork mat and I find them to be rather slippery. Although, I had a student actually say the opposite and what I found out is that if you sweat or have sweaty hands and feet the grip is actually much better, so I would say for someone that does sweat the cork mat might serve them well. The PVC mats are not good for the environment so not recommended as they can’t be recycled. I am yet to try out a suede mat. The new natural rubber and eco-polyurethane mats definitely have great grip, some of my fellow yogi's and yogini's own them and they are great if you looking for a non-slip mat even when perspiring. They are a bit heavier than some other mats and more expensive but a great investment for a dedicated practitioner.
To be honest, when I started practicing yoga I did it in my bedroom on the carpet. I only bought my first yoga mat when I was in my early twenties, when I started working full time and could invest in something for myself. It really is not necessary to go out and buy a mat just because you want to try out yoga. If you not sure whether it’s for you rather use the mats they offer at the gym or just do it on the carpet at home.
I would also say it’s important to try out different styles of yoga, because that will also be a factor to consider when buying a mat. For example, someone that is into Yin Yoga will need to consider a thicker mat and won’t be concerned with getting a mat that is slippery or not. Someone that does Hot Yoga will definitely need a mat that is non-slippery and more absorbent.
Once you get hooked and decide you want to treat yourself then go out shopping and do your research. It can be daunting, as I am experiencing right now, but ask other yoga students about their mats and ask the instructors what has worked for them. I find getting first hand feedback from others is the best and some of them might even let you try a move or two on their mat so you can see what the grip and thickness is like. I know there is a specific mat I would love because a fellow yogi I did my teacher training with has one and let me try a move on it but they are the most expensive one’s I’ve seen on the market at the moment.