Today, there is a yoga mat for almost everyone’s personal preference. Whether you’re looking for something with remarkable grip, something with tailored alignment guides, or something made from environmentally friendly materials, there are an abundance of mats to choose from.
But understanding which yoga mats are worth their salt and which aren’t can be a tricky thing. After all, yoga mats aren’t just about colour and thickness. They need to help you pose properly; they need to be comfy and help ease joint wear and tear; and they need to be portable enough to take to the studio.
So, we thought we’d put together a few useful considerations to think about when it comes to buying a personalised, eco-friendly yoga mat.
1. Consider your body type
As humans, we come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, and we have unique bashes, bruises and battle scars that’ll make our practice slightly varied. Some of us have bad knees, for instance, and so a mat with a little more cushion might help us as during our cat-cow pose. We might be extremely tall and need a mat with a little more length. The possibilities are endless.
But finding a yoga mat that is uniquely tailored to you isn’t exactly easy. Sure, there are a lot of yoga mats, but many aren’t made to measure, and they don’t factor in body shape. Instead, they’re generic length and without alignment guides.
The first thing you need to consider, then, is your own body type. Knowing how long your arms are and understanding your shoulder height will help you narrow the search and find something that works exactly for you.
2. Think about the style of yoga you’re wanting to pursue
Hatha, Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Kundalini… there are many different styles of yoga to pursue, and depending on your preference will depend on the type of mat you’re looking for.
For example, if you’re looking to explore more alignment-focused, detailed yoga like Iyengar, you’ll probably want to find a mat with personalised alignment lines to ensure your Iyengar postures are more precise. If you’re into Vinyasa – which is more strength and power based – you might want a mat with added grip.
Of course, many yoga mats are made so that they work with multiple styles of yoga (there’s no need to own 10 yoga mats!), but if you’re a practising yogi, and you know which yoga styles you prefer, this will certainly factor into your decision making.
3. Think about the material
A long time ago, a yoga mat was made from PVC material. But PVC materials aren’t exactly environmentally forgiving. They don’t break down in landfills, and they’re often difficult to recycle.
If you’re after an eco-friendly yoga mat, then, the material it’s made from is arguably your most important consideration to make. There’s a wide variety of rubber, jute and cotton yoga mats that come in an array of thicknesses and styles, and they are considered more environmentally friendly than traditional PVC mats. However, many of these lack in grip strength and ‘stickiness’.
At Yogaline, we’re proud to report that all Yogaline yoga mats are made out of natural rubber, with a biodegradable PU top surface – the rubber provides the cushioning and the PU surface provides grip strength. Together, these materials mean our yoga mats are grippy, durable and, most importantly, environmentally friendly. To find out more about the materials we use, read here.
4. Consider buying from ethical companies and supporting small business
Yoga is as much about building a healthy body and mind as it is about building community. And during this time of pandemic – when we’ve been told to stay indoors – many businesses have shut their doors. COVID-19, unfortunately, will affect many small businesses.
As a small business, it pains us to say these words. Times are inevitably tough right now, and the best thing we can all do is support each other. That means buying local. It means working with companies who develop ethical products that are good for the world. It means keeping people employed.
We’re not here to preach that you should buy exclusively from us. You must do as you choose. What we are here to say, though, is this: When it comes to purchasing a yoga mat, we recommend finding an ethical small business to buy from. Not only are you helping them stay in business, but you’ll likely receive a higher level of service, a better-quality product, and you might even become part of a community along the way.
5. Consider style
Finally, it’s important you find a yoga mat that looks and feels good for you. We like to think that you spend a lot of time on the mat, so finding something that you always want to return to, and that inspires you, is vital to your practice.
Colour, texture, thickness and design are all important considerations, and they make the difference between skipping out on your marketing meeting in exchange for the mat and avoiding your mat for days at a time.
Find a mat that looks and feels good for you.
Invest in the long term, not the short term
When it comes to buying products, quality always prevails over quantity. The throw-away fashion industry is riddled in poor ethics and environmental catastrophe, and the same can be said for much of the yoga mat industry (PVC mats still exist, for example).
Choosing something economical over something built to a high standard isn’t necessarily the wisest move to make, then. Chances are, you won’t get as many miles out of your mat and you’ll be back buying another one in no time.
Don’t be afraid to invest in something that works for you. Shop around, research the culture of the yoga mat maker in question, and look to buy an ethical, environmentally friendly and high-quality mat. If you get it right, your mat can last you a whole lifetime.