When you found yoga, you got excited, right? Most people who come to the studio for their first time are amazed at what yoga really is, and what it can help them accomplish. Mostly reputed to require bendy bones and fascia made of Jell-o, people are delighted to learn that they don’t need to be flexible, and expensive yoga gear is not required. You can simply show up in your old sweatpants and t-shirt, borrow a mat, and follow directions while listening and modifying poses according to the wills of your own body.
Pretty rad, right?
But after a few classes, and once you begin to feel really comfortable with the idea of incorporating this invaluable practice into your life on a regular basis, most people want to invest a little and buy their own yoga mat. While it may seem that all mats are created equal, we are here to let you know that they are not.
Here are 6 things we wish we’d known before we purchased our own mats—so read up, and you’ll ultimately save yourself some coin
Not all mats are created equal.
It’s true—they’re not even close. Before you purchase your mat, there are a handful of things to know about the difference of yoga mat quality. These days, you can pick up a mat almost anywhere, but do you want to grab a $20 mat from your grocery store?
Why? Read on…
Buy brand name (aka: spend some coin).
Yep—we said that. We can personally guarantee that when you pick up a cheap mat from Wal-Mart, you’ll be replacing or modifying it within mere months. Less expensive mats break down faster, and are usually made from chemical-smelling plastics, like PVC.
Brand name mats are better, because aside from using better quality materials, that yoga brand knows yoga. They know what yogis need in a mat, and they care about making sure their product represents their brand. Like any brand-name product, it will cost more, but in the long run, it’s a better investment.
Go for thick, not thin.
If you buy a thin mat, you will feel like you’re practicing on hardwood. Even Child’s Pose will hurt the inside of your knees. Look around the studio next time you’re in: if the class is full, we would estimate about 20% borrow a studio mat to place under their own to make it more comfortable.
Thicker is better.
Try it before you buy it.
Honestly—throw the mat on the floor of the store, and get busy. (Doing yoga.)
Test for thickness, stickiness, and texture. While keeping in mind that as your yoga mat breaks in, it will develop more of a grip, try and determine whether or not it feels right. If you’re spending the dough, you want to make sure you’re happy with it.
Think about the environment.
This tip will sound kind of weird, but when you purchase a mat made from eco-friendly, recyclable materials, it will usually break down faster. Although definitely trendy, cork mats don’t last long at all, and 100% cotton mats are not even close to slip resistant—not what you want to discover while in Downward Dog.
The best course of action is to buy something that will be durable; something that will last a long time. It creates less waste, and will ultimately be better for the planet.
Match your mat to your practice.
When purchasing a mat, you’ll want to consider what type of yoga you typically engage in. Yin? You want a pretty thick mat. Hot? You want a mat with lots of texture to give you more grip while you sweat.
That kind of thing.
At Parallel Yoga, we sell mats that we KNOW are quality—our instructors use them, and we can personally endorse their effectiveness and longevity. If you have questions about them, ask us. We want you to know what we know about props and products that will affect your experience in our studio.
Because ultimately, the outcome of your practice depends on the entire experience, not just how well you were able to relax in Savasana (which also depends on the comfort of your mat).