HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST YOGA MAT
Whether you are new to yoga or returning after a break, if you are planning to practice regularly it is essential to have your own yoga mat. There are many alternatives and brands in the market, from very cheap options to more premium alternatives. The differences go beyond the brand name. Here are some of the factors to consider when choosing the best yoga mat for your practice:
1. The functional aspect: Grip and cushion. If you want to have an effective and enjoyable practice there are 2 key factors to consider.
A good grip will provide better stability and foundation in your asanas allowing you to experience the full benefits of the yoga practice. If you are continuously slipping out from the posture the practice will be both uncomfortable and ineffective. A plastic mat might work ok on a dry practice but will get slippery if your hands sweat. A mat with a microfiber suede surface gives a great grip, which improves as your start sweating. This is also the best mat for hot yoga as the sweat will be absorved by the suede, making the practice much more comfortable.
The cushion is another key factor highly related to the materials as well as the thickness of the mat. You want to have enough padding, particularly when the weight is on your knees, elbows or head. However you don’t want a very thick mat. Most plastic and PVC mats do not provide good cushion as they have very low density. Certain rubber mats provide the cushion but are very thick which makes them heavy and difficult to carry around. Natural rubber mats provide good cushion without the thickness and heaviness. Thickness can go from 1.5mm to 5mm. A 3mm option provides a good balance between cushion and weight.
2. Sustainable materials: While practicality is important, you might also want to consider the quality of the materials and their sustainability. Most mats in the market, specially the cheapest options, are made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is the most toxic type of plastic. PVC is not only toxic for us when we use it but it is also toxic for the environment when it is produced and during its disposal. As yogis we aim to choose options with minimum violence and harm so choosing a sustainable and environmentally friendly yoga mat makes sense. Natural rubber is a cleaner and safer alternative for you and the planet. It is a natural product made from a milky liquid, called latex which is extracted from the rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis)
3. Unique design: This is not absolutely essential but it can make a difference for your practice, particularly if you are the type of person that needs that extra motivation. You might want to choose a design that gives you some inspiration and makes you feel peaceful. After all, if you are practising yoga in its pure sense, the mat will become that special place where you find oneness and union of body, mind and spirit.
If you are in Australia and looking for a high quality yoga mat that ticks all the above, check out my collection at www.canvasmat.com.au and find out why pilates and yoga teachers in Sydney recommend Canvasmat Eco yoga mats.
Our mats are gentle with you and the environment, made of biodegradable natural tree rubber and recyclable microfiber suede. Due to these high quality materials they provide perfect grip and cushion. They feature unique watercolour designs which hand-painted by myself and printed on the mats to inspire your practice.