I run a yoga section three times a week and as a detail-oriented kind of yoga master I often get amazed by all the ways women choose to avoid buying a specialized yoga mat. They come with quite funny replacements for the yoga mat including some woven mats and God knows what. I didn’t get it at first; mats aren’t that expensive. So after talking to few and learning that they actually don’t consider the mat an important yoga tool, I decided to devote a few precious minutes to explaining some important things about why they should buy a yoga mat and how to get the best one.
First things first, the yoga mat has a rather abstract meaning for the yogis. It’s not just a piece of material which prevents you from sitting on a bare floor. It defines your personal yoga space where you do your exercises and poses. It’s a personal thing, which is why everyone should own one and carry it with them on all yoga sessions.
So before you actually buy a yoga mat, let me introduce you to some important features you need to consider. Yes, there are different types and each has own purpose.
The yoga mat can be made of various materials, but an old t-shirt or piece of old cloth definitely can’t be a yoga mat. That’s because yoga mats are designed to have a certain degree of stickiness so they can stay in place when you do your Child’s pose, for example. Among the most commonly used materials are PVC and rubber, mainly because they offer the best grip. As such, these are particularly good for yogis who tend to sweat a lot and are into hot yoga.
The point of doing the extremely hard yoga poses is to strengthen your body, among other things. When I say hard yoga poses, I mean when you need to put all your body weight on your head and keep it that way for a while. That requires soft surface at the very least, which is why the level of thickness of your mat is important. For example, yogis who’re into inversions will enjoy a 0.6 cm of mat thickness, while those into impromptu lunges outdoors would prefer something of 0.4 cm thickness. Bottom line is that the amount of cushion allows for a better balance maintenance so you can do all poses without distractions.
Having in mind the fact that the modern world puts a very strong accent on sport fashion, looking your best while doing yoga is kind of a big deal. Having a good pair of yoga pants and a suitable top boosts your confidence and sharpens your focus as you don’t have to think about how you look while trying to do a pose. Maybe as a beginner you want to concentrate more on perfecting the basics, and as you advance you’ll know when it’s the right moment to get a fancy mat or clothing. That way, you’ll make your yoga sessions more individual and creative.
In the end, think of a yoga mat as an indispensable tool for doing quality yoga – it’s like the ball in basketball, the running shoes in running. Make sure you have one that is tailored according to your abilities.