Yoga is one of the most popular fitness practices out there. It’s also one of the most flexible, but it can be hard to fit into your busy schedule when you don’t have access to a yoga studio or a lot of space for a mat.
If you want to get started with yoga but don’t know where to begin, here are some things you need to keep in mind when choosing a yoga mat. These tips will help you decide what kind of yoga mat you should buy and how to protect it from being damaged by sweat and other elements.
Get a thick mat
A thin yoga mat means that you won’t be able to do many different types of poses. The thinner a mat gets, the more likely it is that you’ll slip on it in certain positions. And if you’re already using a small mat, you may not have enough room to use a thicker one. In addition, a thinner mat will wear down quicker due to the amount of pressure it has to bear during practice.
A good rule of thumb for buying a yoga mat is to go with something thicker than your foot size. The average person measures about 10 inches (25cm) long between their toes and heels, so if you have a foot length of around 11.5 inches (29cm), then you’d probably want a mat that’s at least 13 inches (33cm).
You might be tempted to choose something much smaller, like the ones sold online, but those mats are usually made of cheap foam that’s easily punctured. If you find yourself slipping on them, they’ll tear and ruin the mat quickly. If you plan to buy a mat in the future, make sure you choose a sturdy one that’s made of quality material that doesn’t break easily.
Choose a firm mat
Yoga mats aren’t just for practicing yoga on. They’re also great for everyday home use as well. But because you’re going to be doing a lot of standing and sitting, you’ll want an extra-firm mat that provides good support for your body.
Firm mats are easy to clean, too. A soft mat takes longer to dry, which can result in mold growth over time. Firm mats tend to provide better traction, especially if you’re working with larger groups and plan to do a lot of floor exercises.
Look for a mat with a non-slip surface
The number one thing to look for in a yoga mat is whether or not it has a slip-resistant surface. This is important because you never want to lose your footing while practicing. Even a slight misstep could cause you to fall and injure yourself.
Some people recommend against purchasing mats that come with rubberized surfaces, since these can easily become slippery when wet. However, this isn’t true of all rubber mats. For example, the new Energex Yoga Mat uses a rubber coating that’s designed to be resistant to heat and moisture. So, if you’ve got the money to spend, consider giving this type of mat a try.
Consider the color
There are two main kinds of yoga mats on the market: white and black. White is often associated with traditional forms of yoga, such as Ashtanga Vinyasa, whereas black is used for power yoga, restorative yoga, and most vinyasa flow classes.
White mats are typically made out of a soft, dense foam. Black mats are usually made out of a firmer foam. But keep in mind that black mats are harder to clean and often require special care. Plus, they’re darker, so they absorb light faster, making it harder to see the mat while performing exercises.
Check the thickness
As mentioned earlier, a mat needs to be thick enough to support your weight without causing pain. You’ll also want to think about how it feels underfoot. Some types of yoga mats feel squishy and mushy. Others are firmer. The best ones are generally somewhere in the middle.
Thickness varies depending on the style of yoga you’re practicing. Traditional yoga is usually done barefoot or with socks on, so the mat should be firm enough to provide adequate support. Power yoga requires a softer, thinner mat, since the focus is on speed and strength rather than balance and flexibility.
Pick a mat with a grip
One last thing you’ll want to consider when shopping for a yoga mat is its grip level. There are three basic levels: high, medium, and low. Low-grip yoga mats are great for beginners who are still learning how to hold themselves properly, and they offer good stability. Medium-grip mats are better for intermediate students. High-grip mats are ideal for advanced yogis who need greater control over their movement.
Many yoga studios use plastic mats, but they’re not recommended for home use. Plastic mats are often slippery and can trap bacteria and dust particles, leading to odor and unsightly stains. That said, if you’re concerned about hygiene, you can use plastic mats as a substitute until you purchase your own.
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