Did you know that there are numerous different types of yoga mats available? When you’re beginning to practice yoga, an all-in-one mat should prove serviceable. However, as you become more and more in tune with the practice, you may want to graduate to something that’s a little more worthwhile. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the different types of yoga mats available today and the things you should look for when selecting a mat.
Sticky Yoga Mats
A sticky yoga mat is one of the most basic choices available and best-suited for beginners. The mats are coated with a slightly sticky substance that allows your hands and feet to grip the surface of the mat so that you can hold your poses for more extended periods. Manufacturers often offer these mats in 1/8″ and ¼” thickness. Many beginners choose the ¼” thickness because it provides more cushioning and comfort.
These mats also tend to be the most affordable as well. However, this is often because they are mass-produced and not made of natural materials. If you know that you’re going to be practicing yoga for a while and are concerned about using natural products, you may want to invest in another type of mat.
Cotton Or Hemp Mats
If you’re looking for a natural yoga mat option, you’ll likely want to consider cotton or hemp mats. Cotton yoga mats are useful because they are soft and cushiony. However, they absorb sweat easily, just as a cotton t-shirt would during a workout. Because of this, you’ll need to wash the mat frequently. To deal with odor and bacteria in between washes, you could use a Yoga Mat Spray to sterilize your mat.
The trade-off for using a hygienic cotton mat is durability. A cotton yoga mat may break down more quickly than a plastic mat would. If longevity is a concern but you would still like a natural product, you’ll want to consider hemp mats. Manufacturers typically make hemp mats with yarn, weaving the thread tightly. Hemp is a strong and elastic material. Many yogis also consider that hemp offers better water-absorbency qualities than cotton mats.
Plastic Elastomer Mats
You may balk immediately upon hearing the word “plastic”, but these mats may not be as bad for the environment as you’d think. That’s because they typically do not contain any Latex, PVC, or other toxic materials.
In fact, manufacturers usually only use natural materials when making this product. Like sticky mats, these products are excellent for those who need something a bit stickier when trying new and challenging yoga poses. The mats are slip-resistant, providing users with excellent traction. Many customers find that sun exposure can break down the natural materials in these mats, so these may not be suited for those who practice yoga outdoors frequently.
Natural Rubber Yoga Mats
Another option for those interested in natural products is rubber yoga mats. Manufacturers tend to make these mats from natural rubber materials, making them both eco-friendly and non-toxic. The materials are recyclable and biodegradable, making them the ideal choice for those concerned about their carbon footprint. However, sweat, UV rays, and other elements could cause these mats to break down quicker than others.
Jute mats provide yogis with another natural product from which they can choose. These mats are made using jute fibers, a biodegradable material from Southeast Asia. These mats are quite breathable, potentially making them the ideal choice for outdoor workouts or hot yoga sessions. The mats provide stickiness that is comparable to other options on our list.
Travel Yoga Mat
If you’re someone who frequently travels for work or vacation, you may quickly grow tired using the dirty yoga mats in your hotel. Fortunately, companies have now begun producing travel yoga mats for those who spend life on the road. These mats are typically much thinner than other products, making it easier to fold or roll them into your suitcase. They do, however, tend to feature a non-slip surface so that you can practice a wide range of techniques and movements.
You may end up sacrificing a bit of comfort and cushion, but these mats are more than serviceable when on the road. However, we don’t recommend that you use them every day because of the lack of cushioning they provide. Keep them in your suitcase and only use them when on the road.
Which Mat Is Right For You?
With so many different mats available, you may find it impossible to choose one. However, keeping in mind a few specific criteria could help make your decision much more manageable. One of the first things you should concern yourself with is the thickness of the mat. You want to choose a mat that protects you while also allowing you to feel a strong connection with the floor, giving you a stable base. Experienced yogis typically use a mat that is 1/8″ thick.
Another thing to consider is the texture of the mat. For instance, some of the mats listed above feature a woven pattern. Others, like the sticky mat and plastic elastomer mat, may have raised bumps that make it easier to grip the surface. If possible, we recommend visiting a local store to sample different mats and discover which type of material you prefer most. This often is a matter of personal preference, and there is not necessarily a correct answer.