How To Choose The Best Yoga Mat For Your Needs
Simply put, the best yoga mat is soft when you lie or stand on it, lets you hold a pose without slipping, can be made smaller for storage and transportation, and is light to carry under an arm or on a bicycle. Those are the basic elements in a search for an ideal yoga mat, but obviously there is a lot more to consider. Why else would there be so many possibilities? Fitness shops, DIY stores, online yoga specialists, and department stores carry these products which range in price from around $15 to over $50. Here are some features to look for, but don’t expect to pay less than $25 for any of these items.
Materials of Yoga Mats
A love of yoga and a love of the earth seem to be intertwined in a way not nearly as obvious when thinking of cyclists, runners, or weight lifters. When a person takes up yoga, he is often interested in unity between mind, body, spirit, and the natural world. To that end he is likely to at least consider purchasing the most environmentally friendly products available. These might be prohibitively expensive to certain people, but others will pay any money to own something that is not only more comfortable and supportive than a towel or a bare rug but also made form materials they can feel good about.
Some currently popular ones are jute, PER, and TPE. Jute is a fiber which is in common use around the world but especially in India and surrounding countries where it is grown. Resulting fibers are durable, light, light-colored, and environmentally friendly. The plant grows easily too, so it is a sustainable material.
PER: Polymer Environmental Resin
According to experts, when you take PVC and subject it to one more stage of processing, it becomes PER or Polymer Environmental Resin which is better for the environment in manifold ways. For one thing, the manufacturing process is less damaging than that of making PVC. PER is a more easily recyclable material and does not contain the toxins present in PVC. It is still light, easy to roll for transport, and offers grip when standing in awkward poses.
Here is another environmentally friendly material which has been applied to many products in various industries. TPE is a blend of resins which feel soft to the touch, provide grip, flexibility, shock absorbency, and more commercially exciting characteristics. TPE has been turned into sealing rings, casters, soles for shoes, and lots of other items, so they are useful to lots of manufacturers. Thermoplastics are recyclable and can be colored too.
What a Yoga Student or Teacher Needs a Mat to do
What should a mat provide for the teacher or student? It has to be soft. Bare feet and hands are going to be resting on the material, often while supporting a lot of body weight. A pose might become uncomfortable during endurance yoga, although, in general, one is never meant to push the body into a painful state during a session. Yoga is supposed to be gentle if challenging at times.
Hypoallergenic materials which do not promote the growth of bacteria and are easily cleaned are ideal. Hands and feet get sweaty. One’s face is often close to the mat, especially during child’s pose and downward facing dog. It is not pleasant to inhale germs. If a person can wipe the mat down without making it soggy, ruining its shape, or creating mildew, that is a definite bonus.
When your legs are at an odd angle, feet wide apart and arms held out in warrior pose, it would be injurious to start sliding. One should never do the splits by accident. The best yoga mats provide excellent grip even when a person is sweating. In spite of all the sweat one might produce, bacteria cannot survive on ideal materials.
Finally, accessibility is an issue. Where can one purchase these excellent products without paying too much for the privilege? Online sources are frequently cheaper than shop-based ones, but at a shop you can touch and lift an item to judge its suitability. Pharmacies and health food stores join fitness-related shops in providing a selection of candidates.
The Best Mats
Yoga experts have chosen several styles of mats and crowned them as winners for reasons the public will appreciate. They are made from “green” materials. One of them folds into a small, slender rectangle and fits into a narrow bag. Most of them can be rolled and several come with pouches shaped like those used to carry sleeping bags but narrower. Some are made from recyclable materials which are also non-toxic. The manufacturer invites consumers to send or drop their used mats at a given location for recycling, free of charge. Mats are resilient but will lose their shape over time, so it’s useful to know where one can dispose of them responsibly at the end of a long life.
Certain products are beautifully colored and feature soothing patterns of plant life. Several companies pledge to donate a percentage of profits from the sale of certain models of yoga mats to particular charities. These are two more factors which might help you choose between several equally attractive products.