The Yoga Mat & The Ritual
The art of yoga is a special one and those who enjoy practicing on their yoga mat see the benefits it brings: meditation, stretching, strengthening, self-healing to name a few. It is a ritual. And like any other ritual, everything that encompasses the journey has an impact on the experience.
There is nothing better than getting ready for your practice and putting on your favorite yoga attire. Then, going to that special space where you feel most comfortable and free. Finally, before you begin, the last step is to lay down your mat – the foundation of where everything happens.
Your mat is your safety zone. It is where you sit and breathe; furthermore, it is where your feet and hands need good support. The type of yoga mat you choose will bring either positive or negative effects on your practice and therefore, an important piece to consider when deciding on which to invest in.
What’s Best For You
Before we start to review the characteristics of both a good and bad yoga mat, it is best to first check what your needs are. If you have never done yoga before, you may be looking for the best yoga mat for beginners. Or, you love to do yoga but you need a better non-slip yoga mat. Perhaps you go to different countries and you are looking for the best travel yoga mat. Maybe you have a budget and need the ultimate affordable yoga mat.
Everyone is different. What could be a good mat for one person, may not provide the same fulfilment to another. However, we can say with complete confidence that buying the wrong mat poses more problems than it is worth and here are a few common traits to avoid.
Say No To The Following:
- First of all, a slippery surface. Even when not sweating this poses a danger. Instead of focussing on breathing and enjoying the pose, you are concentrating on keeping your grip and not falling. These distractions mean that instead of reaping the benefits of the pose, you are using muscles that you wouldn’t normally use had you been more grounded and fixed with a good mat. As a result, the pose causes more damage than it does good.
- As the saying goes, cheap is expensive. Although a mat for under 10 euro/usd is budget-friendly, you will find yourself spending 10 euros – multiple times – over the course of a few years as well as deal with the frustration a cheap mat brings. Poor durability and poor quality results in a mat that deteriorates over the course of a few months leaving your mat looking worse for wear and difficult to use for support. In addition, cheap mats usually do not come with a strap to keep it wrapped.
- If your mat is too thick or has too much cushioning, your pose ends up being unstable and this can cause joint pain over time. Your balance is compressed and hard rather than soft and fluid. The only time a thick mat can help is when you have bad knees. However, we advise to talk to your yoga instructor to make sure that you are buying the best thick yoga mat and using the mat correctly.
- Last but not least, the materials used are also an important factor. For anyone who is eco-friendly, a lot of mats are made from PVC and not advised. PVC is terrible for the environment and the chemicals used to manufacture them, such as formaldehyde, produce an odour that does not fade over time. Your hands and feet get sticky, they smell and your mat will also make squeaky noises during practice.
With that being said, there are a lot of good options out there for high-quality yoga mats. We will take you through our top choices, explain why we love these mats and highlight which buyers would benefit the most from them.
Best Yoga Mats in 2019
1. Manduka Yoga Mat Review
Manduka makes the world’s finest athletic performance products, including yoga mats, towels, bags, props and men’s & women’s fitness apparel. Their yoga mats come with a lifetime guarantee. If you are used to having a mat that eventually starts to flake, peel and fade, then the Manduka mat is for you. The brand promises that their yoga mats only improve over time.
The Manduka Eko Yoga Mat is perfect for those who want to practice their poses while at the same time protecting the planet. This eco-friendly yoga mat made from biodegradable, non-Amazon harvested, natural tree rubber provides a cushion of support. It is the most durable natural rubber yoga mat on the market and uses a blend of polyester and natural cotton.
It is 99% latex free and all post-industrial scrap is thoughtfully collected and utilised in the production of other materials creating a zero-waste manufacturing process. It weighs 3.175Kg, has a thickness of 5mm and you can keep your Maduka yoga mat clean by wiping down with Manduka’s Mat Restore Spray or a 50/50 mixture of water and organic apple cider vinegar.
2. Gaiam Yoga Mat Review
The thickest Gaiam yoga mat measures 8mm and the average is 5mm. The brand offers two different surface textures: a smooth, shiny side and a textured grippier side. You will find a Gaiam yoga mat listed among the top-ranking yoga mats. This is because Gaiam has earned its reputation of making only the best yoga mat varieties at an affordable price. The thinner, more travel-friendly yoga mats offered by Gaiam fold or roll up for quick and easy storage in your yoga mat bag.
While most yoga students couldn’t care less about the color and print of their Gaiam yoga mat, Gaiam still makes sure that the different tastes and preferences of their clients are met by offering mats in a wide array of colors and patterns.
3. Jade Yoga Mat Review
Jade Yoga cooperates with Trees for the Future and plants a tree for every Jade yoga mat that is sold there. More than a million trees have already been planted! The mats are made entirely from sustainably drawn rubber – a natural, self-renewing raw material.
The Jade Harmony Yoga Mat is the most popular mat from the brand. Thanks to the open cell structure of this yoga mat you can say goodbye to slipping. The superior quality rubber that is used for the production of the Jade yoga mat offers the best grip, even with perspiration. The Jade yoga mat is slightly thicker than standard, remains stable on the floor and does not curl up. The ideal mat for those who are looking for maximum grip and comfort.