Choosing A Yoga Mat

yoga

Practising yoga is linked to many health and wellness benefits, but before rolling out your mat it's good to know the different types. The yoga mat you choose should reflect your experience and dedication. If you are new to yoga perhaps look at a basic mat until you see where your practise takes you. 

Although the differences in mats may seem small, they definitely impact the way you practise yoga. It is your little piece of the earth and important for you to feel balanced and happy.  There is no perfect yoga mat, and no single mat fits everyone. I hope the information below can help you in choosing a good mat that will support your asanas and be your new place to practice. 

MATERIAL

Most of the basic mats you can find are made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Although some of these mats are cheaper in price, PVC is a environmentally hazardous material and can also contain chemicals like phthalates, which help make PVC more flexible

PVC makes a great mat due to its grip, durability and price point. That being said, there is no safe way to create, use or destroy these mats. It can't be recycles due to the toxins within it and when burned or buried, it releases dioxin, a carcinogen. 

If you want to try an alternative options to PVC, some of my recommended mats include:

THICKNESS

There are three main thicknesses to yoga mats. You may think, it doesn't matter, but they are actually quite significant. If a mat is too thin, it may hurt your wrists or knees. If the mat is very thick, it may be harder to maintain balancing poses.

  • 1/4" thickness: This is the thickest mat and usually the more premium mats and offer more support. Great for yogis at home or with injuries. However with more support is more weight. If you are travelling a lot with your mat, you may want to consider a thinner option. 
  • 1/8" thickness: This is the most common thickness found. I find that it's a great mix of comfort and portability.  
  • 1/16" thickness: These mats are half as thick as a standard mat and great for yogis on the go. Also a good choice if you like to get a better feel of the floor. 

SIZE

There are different sizes of yoga mats, which is great for us taller yogis. A standard mat is 24" x 68" but many brands carry a "tall" size where the length is increased to 72" and 74"

Types of Yoga

The type of yoga you practise can also effect which mat you choose. For more active types of yoga I would recommend a rubber mat which stays sticky even while sweating. For a lower intensity yoga/restorative I would recommend a thicker mat. 


CARING FOR YOUR MAT

After purchasing your new mat, it's important to take care of it. One of the first thing you will want to do is wash it, removing factory smells and help break them in.  After each use, it's important to give it a clean to remove all the sweat (and maybe tears) from your practise. One of my favourite mat cleaners is Saje Antibacterial Yoga Mat Spray. Alternatively you can also make your own very easily.

Healthy Hayles Yoga Mat Spray

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup alcohol-free witch hazel or white vinegar
  • 10-20 drops essential oil (my favourite is Lavender, peppermint or lemon)
  • 3 drops Tea Tree oil
  1.  Place all ingredients into a large spray bottle and shake before each use.

  2.  Spray down your mat on one side and let it sit for a few minutes. wipe with damp towel and either air dry, or wipe again with dry towel