“My mat is the canvas and yoga is my art.”
One of the great things about practicing yoga is that there is really very little that you need to practice. Ultimately all you need is your body and the will to practice. However, when practicing in a studio, on a hard wood floor, it is nice to have a mat to cushion your body from the floor and prevent slipping and sliding.
Most studios will have mats available for students to use during class. Some studios charge a rental/cleaning fee while others just ask that you clean the mat after use. It can be nice to have mats and props available to use, especially when you’re just starting out with a practice and unsure of what type of mat you might like.
Eventually you may decide to purchase your own mat. Owning your own mat has its benefits; you know that your feet are the only ones that have touched it, if it starts to smell you know it’s from you and aren’t wondering who else has dripped sweat and tears all over it. Cleanliness aside, your own mat can be a reflection of your personality. You are able to choose a color that energizes or calms you. With your own mat you can also choose how much grip you want it to have, how thick you want it, and how long you want it. I have compiled a list below to help you choose your perfect mat.
Eco-friendliness is a concern for many in this day and age. Getting a mat made from natural rubber is a great way to be earth friendly. Rubber mats are biodegradable and after a couple years of consistent use you will find them starting to wear out. I practice and teach regularly and my rubber mat has lasted two years. How long your rubber mat will last really depends on how often you practice. There are lots of options for your rubber mats when they become too worn out for your yoga practice. You can find a reuse purpose for them on your own, look for a company that will repurpose/recycle them for you, donate to your local animal shelter as they can create some warmth from the cold shelter floor for animals awaiting their forever homes. Natural rubber mats are available at WON, we have them in two different colors, red and aqua.
Cost- For some, cost may be the main thing separating them between the mat of their dreams and that borrowed, sweaty studio mat. In this case a PVC mat may be the best option. PVC is well known as a toxic plastic material. Gaiam’s mats are 6P free meaning that these mats are free of the plasticizers typically used when making plastic products. These mats hold up for years. When they get dirty they start to get slippery, just give them a good cleaning and they will return to their natural grippy state. We have a variety of PVC mats here at WON in different colors, patterns, lengths, and thicknesses. They range from $21.99-$29.99, the price varies based on the thickness of the mat.
Length- Most mats are 5’8” long. If you are tall, you may want to invest in an extra long mat. A good way to determine if you need a longer mat is to lie on your mat facedown. Put your forehead at the top of the mat and with the tops of your feet down, see if the toes extend off of your mat. If so, you may want to look into longer mat options. At WON we have the Gaiam Athletic Duramat, which adds an additional 10” to the length of the mat and 2” to the width. This is a reversible mat with one sticky side and one textured side giving you options based on your practice. This mat is built to last and is available in a variety of colors.
Thickness- mats typically come in thicknesses from 3mm to 5mm. Some travel mats are just 2mm to keep the weight down for air travel. Travel mats are not recommended for regular practice. A 3mm mat will allow you to feel stable in balancing postures keeping you more grounded into the floor. A 5mm thickness will comfort and support your whole body (especially the hands and knees) giving you added protection from the hard floor. In addition, with a thicker mat if you are having trouble balancing, you can always step off of your mat and ground your feet directly into the floor. For reference, if you have been to our Tuesday/Thursday evening yoga classes here at World of Nutrition, the mats we have for you to borrow are 4mm thick.
Personality- Mats are available in many different styles, colors, textures, patterns, prints, lengths, and weights. When you are ready to purchase a mat of your own, come see us! We are here to help you find the mat that will best suit your needs.
Once you have purchased a new mat, you may want to let it air out for a few days before practicing on it. The smell of a new mat can be pretty potent, but fear not, the odor goes away quickly. I recommend laying it out over a patio chair. However, it is important to keep your mat out of the sun, so find a shady spot to let it vent.
“My mat is a safe place. I’ll go into child’s pose or I’ll simply sit on it and cry. It’s my rock. Yoga has made a big difference.”