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WHICH YOGA MAT SHOULD YOU BUY?

When deciding which yoga mat you should buy, there are a few important aspects you need to consider.

With so many yoga mats on the market today, it might get a little bit overwhelming and confusing to decide which one will best serve your practice. When I first started practicing yoga, my thought process was essentially limited to a choice between purple or pink. Oh how things have changed! Back then, the yoga mats that were available were not great quality, they were loaded with toxins, terrible for our environment, and pretty damn boring too, let’s just be real.

Luckily there are now much better options available, both in terms of quality and style, and each variation is designed with very specific needs in mind. So I’ve decided to break it down, feature by feature, so that you are armed with all the knowledge you need before making a decision. As with everything in life, each mat comes with its own set of pros AND cons! Be weary of ‘guides’ that only supply you with the positive aspects of certain mats, just saying. Use this well-balanced, transparent guide to choose a yoga mat that will really benefit your practice, your priorities, lifestyle, values, and budget.

WEIGHT & THICKNESS

The thickness of your yoga mat is very important to consider, since it will determine how comfortable you will be during your practice. If you struggle with joint pain or injury, you will want a mat that offers the right amount of support and cushioning. However, the thicker the mat, the heavier and bulkier it will be to transport. You also need to be mindful of the storage space required for your mat. If portability is your main concern, choose a thinner mat. If support and cushioning is your main concern – choose a thicker mat. But be aware of the downfalls of each.

I saw a guy the other day carrying an extremely thick mat, that basically looked like a spongy roll-up mattress! This is probably alright if you have seriously bad joints, or if you are planning on taking a nice long nap on it, ?‍♀️ but for a young, relatively healthy person, I’d say it’s quite excessive.

Another downfall with a very thick mat, is that it breaks the connection you have to the ground. You need to be stable and grounded during your practice, which is why yogi’s practice barefoot. So, if you are practicing on a very thick foamy mat, you will likely feel off-balance – especially in more advanced, balancing-type postures.

Suggestion:

Consider your individual needs. We are all different and our bodies are also always in flux. If you need a roll-up mattress to enable you to practice comfortably, then by all means, use the damn mattress!?But if you are relatively average in terms of needing a combination of support, portability, durability, cushion and stability, then a mat that is around 3mm – 5mm thick will do the trick.

GRIP & Texture

Think about it – you want a very grippy mat so that you do not slip and slide all over the place once you get sweaty. BUT you also don’t want a mat to be gross and sticky when you are trying to move fluidly between postures. Again, by considering the pros and cons of various varieties, you will be able to make a decision that will serve you well throughout your particular practice.

For instance, if you practice mostly hot yoga, or you get really sweaty palms and feet during your practice, then a mat with a very absorbent, suede, or towel-like, texture will be great for you. These types of mats function as a combination between a towel and yoga mat, meaning that they continuously absorb moisture and become super grippy when other mats might fail you. This variety of mat is also very comfy and soft – ideal for yin, restorative, or meditation practices too. The downfall is that this type of mat might be a bit slippery when used completely dry. An easy fix for this though, is to simply spritz a little bit of water onto the mat to increase traction. More advanced yogi’s however, often prefer to use these mats dry, since it challenges you to build strength and stability and allows you to move fluidly between challenging ãsana.

Another variety to consider if you are looking for a very versatile mat that will be extremely grippy during any style of practice and in any environment, is the sticky surface of a mat constructed from rubber and polyurethane, such as this one (pictured on the right below). This mat boasts the most advanced engineering used for any yoga mat and really provides you with a great balance of thickness, grip, stability, comfort, and support. What’s more, is that the alignment line design will aid you in finding the correct alignment in each posture, to prevent injury and help you to progress more easily throughout your practice. This mat really is an all-round, high performance product, that I doubt you could regret purchasing. The downfall – they are a bit bulkier and heavier than the suede-type mats and the smooth, sticky surface texture is not as cosy as the suede finish mats, yet still extremely comfortable.

Alternative mats manufactured from cork, jute, cotton, or hemp are also all great options, but keep in mind the particular features discussed here. E.g. a lot of jute, hemp, or cotton mats are rather thin and might lack adequate cushioning. They also tend to feel rather course on the skin, especially as they wear with time. Cork mats tend not to be as soft and comfortable as the suede or PU type mats, and tend to be less durable. Ultimately, I like to invest in a mat that is going to provide all the performance features I value, as well as being versatile, portable, comfortable, durable, and stylish. Which brings me to my next point…

STYLE

Now that there is such a wide variety of yoga mats to choose from, it becomes almost like deciding which T-Shirt to buy. It would be very simple if there were only black shirts, or white shirts, but how do you choose between printed or plain, minimalist or sparkly, studs or lace trimmings, distressed or polished? Easy – you choose a design that resonates with you.

Beyond all the important performance features, I truly believe that your yoga mat carries a lot of symbolic value that goes way beyond branding and marketing. It is a container for the physical, emotional and spiritual journey you embark on when practicing yoga. Look for a design that is meaningful, makes you feel powerful, or calm, or expresses something about your journey with yoga. This will ensure that you treasure your mat, look after it well, and get excited to practice on it!

be conscious

Lastly, as yogi’s we practice the virtue of ahimsa: the respect for all living things and the avoidance of violence towards others. This implies a conscious way of life that is compassionate, and kind. I believe that an individualistic Western culture falls short in equipping us with the necessary values to live harmoniously with one another, with all species, and within our eco-system as a whole. We need to be critical of what we consume, and thus support. Our individual choices are a lot more political than most of us realise, but let’s not get into all of that right now.

What is important for you to realise when buying a yoga mat is that certain materials used cause a lot of harm to our environment. When you are buying a PVC mat, for example, it will inevitably end up somewhere in a landfill, polluting our planet. It is not biodegradable, and the manufacturing process involved causes a lot of damage to our water, air, and food supply – and thus to all species who rely on it. So even though it might be a less expensive option in monetary terms, the cost involved to our health, and ecosystem, is not worth it in the long run.

Luckily, there are a wide range of eco-friendly, toxin-free, and sustainable yoga mats available on the market today. Choose natural materials, recycled materials, and mats that are biodegradable!

novawoolf yoga mats

It was extremely important to me to create a collection of yoga mats that meets a variety of yogi’s needs, boasts exceptionally high quality, is eco-friendly, biodegradable, and looks and feels super luxurious and beautiful. The NOVAWOOLF premium yoga mat collection is designed with all the above-mentioned considerations in mind, and created to mitigate the possible cons of each feature. Beyond that, each design carries a very special story from my heart. I hope that this little piece of my story will become a part of your story too!

Namaste, yogi’s!

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