4 Tips for Finding Your Perfect Yoga Mat
Manduka is the Rolls-Royce of yoga mats. Scott Harig and countless other top yogis swear by the brand’s mats, namely the signature Manduka PRO, and it’s a status symbol when a studio provides them to its students. Weighing in at seven pounds however, PRO isn’t for everyone, which led us to wonder what exactly we should consider when shopping for a mat. “While it’s true that yoga can be done with nothing but an open mind, if you’re serious about your practice it’s important to invest wisely in your mat,” says Manduka CEO Sky Meltzer. “It’s more than a fitness accessory, it’s a lifestyle investment.”
Meltzer goes on to explain that like most things, you get what you pay for, underlining that it’s important to take your time and truly find what’s right for you. “Unlike other props such as towels, straps or apparel which get switched out often, a majority of people use the same mat for extended periods of time; therefore, it’s worth considering getting a higher quality mat which will cost you less in the long run and have a more positive impact on the environment.”
For the sake of safety and progressing your practice, there’s nothing more important than a mat that will support your practice through countless routines, maintain its form, and compliment your poses. With that in mind, Meltzer shared with us his top four tips on how to find just the right yoga mat.
1. Unconditional support
The density of your mat should be one of the first things you consider while shopping for your new mat. This will ensure your level of comfort while posing and protect your joints from overcompensating, prevent bruising and any discomfort. Cushioning in a mat is comparable to the sole of a running shoe; not too soft, not too hard — just the right amount is what you need.
2. Hold steady
Another yoga-no-brainer, an unaltered grip! No matter what type of yoga you practice, your steadiness is essential. If you’re an extra sweaty yogi, try using a mat towel on top for added grip as well as extra absorption. Yogitoes or eQua towels work well for this and come especially in handy during hot yoga classes.
3. How you practice matters
Mats vary in thickness and weight. A key factor in finding your perfect mat is thinking about how you practice. For example, if you practice primarily at home, I’d suggest the Black Mat PRO — it’s dense which makes it a heavier mat that provides ample cushioning and has a luxurious fabric-like texture; it’s also designed with longevity in mind making it the only yoga mat on the market with a lifetime guarantee. Or are you a yogi on the move? If so, try a lightweight (but still cushioned) mat (PROlite or eKOlite). Also bear in mind fabric, eKOlite, for example, is made with natural tree rubber, ideal for carrying around town while running errands after your practice. Are you a traveling yogi? There are mats designed specifically for travel in mind. The eKO SuperLite Travel, for example, weights only 2 pounds and it’s foldable.
4. Consciously made
What went into the making of your mat? Was it designed with the planet in mind, made to last, and what happens to your mat after it comes to the end of the usefulness? In my opinion it’s important to opt for mats that are zero-waste and made of environmentally friendly materials that reduce waste and landfill consumption; therefore, when a mat has reached its life’s end, it has still showcased its positive impact on the planet. Make sure to read the tables so that you know where and how your mat was made.