Whether you practice vinyasa, Ashtanga, Yin, or heated yoga, choosing the right yoga mat is crucial for your comfort and performance. With countless options available, choosing the best yoga mat for what you need can seem overwhelming. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! In this guide, we'll explore key factors to consider when selecting a yoga mat that suits what you need.
1. Thickness and Cushioning
Thickness and cushioning all depend on preference. Here are some things you can also consider.
Knee and Joint Support: If you have sensitive joints, you may want to consider a thicker yoga mat. This will be about 4-6mm thick. Remember that the density of your yoga mat matters too! Some mats are made of a material called TPE. This material is not dense. For more support, look for natural rubber yoga mats. Natural rubber will also ground down and stick to the floor more, giving you more stability and confidence.
Travel: Yoga at home? Yoga at your favorite Chicago studio? Yoga at Montrose Beach? Depending on where you want to be practicing plays a factor in what yoga mat you choose. Some yoga mats even come with a bag included! Like Mocana Yoga’s Nimbus Yoga mat.
Balance: Something that I never thought about when choosing a mat was those balancing postures like tree pose, or utthita hasta padangusthasana. If you have too much cushion, these poses will be more difficult to hold. Especially for Ashtanga Yoga, I recommend a 4-4.5mm yoga mat with a natural rubber bottom.
2. Material and Texture
PU, PVC, TPE. These are often the main materials used in today's yoga mats. Let’s break these down a bit!
PU: Often called ‘nature's leather’, this is the best material and texture for practices like Vinyasa, or Ashtanga. It is open-celled and very grippy even when you sweat on it. Be aware, there are many different types of PU out there. Make sure the PU is high quality like Mocana Yoga’s Nimbus Yoga mat. These high quality ethically sourced raw materials will come from Southern Thailand or nearby. PU is also a much greener alternative to PVC, both in production and after-care. It does not require the same chemical plastic as PVC does.
PVC: PVC is made up of plastic. This can be good… or not so good depending on your preference. These yoga mats will usually last 10-plus years! But, the bad news is that they for thousands of years in our environment and can often be slippery when wet.
TPE: These are those ‘foam’ like mats that you will often see sold for a lower price. They are open-celled and will absorb sweat, but can be slippery when wet. If you’re just starting yoga or trying it out, this may be a great option!
3. Stickiness and Traction
Having a yoga mat with good stickiness and traction is vital to avoid slipping and sliding, especially during challenging poses. Look for a mat that offers a non-slip surface (PU is a great material for this!), ensuring stability and safety throughout your practice. Some mats have a microfiber or polyurethane coating, enhancing grip even when wet. Testing the stickiness of a mat before purchasing or asking your favorite Chicago yoga teacher can help you determine if it suits your needs.
For environmentally-conscious yogis, opting for an eco-friendly yoga mat is a responsible choice. Many mats now come with eco-friendly certifications, ensuring they are free from harmful substances and produced sustainably. Natural rubber mats, organic cotton mats, and mats made from recycled materials are excellent eco-friendly options to consider.
6. Price and Budget
Yoga mats are available in a wide price range, catering to different budgets. Anna, one of our local Chicago yoga teachers at Rising Lotus Healing Center says it best, “I always think of it like this - if you’re a runner, you get good running shoes, if you’re a musician you get quality instruments, if you practice yoga, get a good yoga mat. It’s worth it.”
You can often find yoga mats online or at bigger retailers for $15-30, but while it's tempting to opt for the cheapest option, investing in a high-quality mat can significantly elevate your yoga experience. Consider your budget and look for a mat that offers a good balance of features, durability, and affordability. Remember, a well-chosen yoga mat is a long-term investment in your practice!
Feel free to reach out with any questions or comments, or meet us at Chicago’s Yoga & Fitness festival this year & with CHI-SOCIETY at Faces of Fitness 2023! We’d love to see you there!
Mocana Yoga was born in the natural beauty of Cape Town, South Africa. Created by yogis, and used by teachers and practitioners worldwide, Mocana Yoga is devoted to making our yoga practices stay simple, grounded, and elevated with confidence.