The beginner is often surprised to learn that not all yoga mats are created equally. Ranging in price from eight dollars to eighty, yoga mats come in a variety of materials, sizes, and styles, determining how appropriate, comfortable, and durable your mat is for the lineage you practice, as well as how often.
The lineage, or style, of yoga you will primarily be using your mat for is the first determining factor. Because some lineages of yoga entail a sweaty workout-like Ashtanga (Power Yoga), or Bikram (Hot Yoga)-many yogis prefer an ultra sticky mat, or even a cotton yoga rug, to go over their mats, so that they do not slip. A cotton rug has an added benefit, of course: you can easily toss it into the washing machine. This will allow you to wash away dirt, sweat, and if you are lucky, karma.
If you are particularly tall or have sensitive joints, you can choose a yoga mat to accommodate these particularities. The tall yogi or yoginican buy a yoga mat that is up to even feet long; get ready for a very long downward-facing dog. If you have suffered past injuries, simply have tender joints, or have a strenuous yoga practice, choosing an extra thick yoga mat is wise. The average thickness of yoga mats is 1/8" -thick but the thick variety are 1/4"-thick. A thicker yoga mat can serve as a cushion for delicate wrists or kneecaps, and might even be a smart purchase for anyone.
Your frequency of practice yoga also determines the kind of mat you will choose. Because the price ranges from eight to eighty dollars and is proportional to their quality and durability, the serious practitioner may chose to opt for a more expensive mat. The more durable mats are often made with natural rubber or other eco-friendly materials, while most yoga mats are made of latex and micro fiber. If one of your concerns is the earth-consciousness of a mat, you will happily find that eco-awareness and durability often go hand in hand.
As the less expensive mats are usually more thin and flexible, some purchase an extra one to fit in a suitcase while traveling. Others may enjoy having an extra mat in the home, in the event that she has a guest who might like to join in morning sun-salutations. For the frequent practitioner, a yoga mat will need a strap or a bag for easy carrying, and conveniently, accessories for easy mobility can be found anywhere that yoga mats are sold. Alternatively, depending on the preferences and policies of your yoga studio, you can even simply opt for having two mats-one for your home and one for the studio.
Sifting through the variety of yoga mats goes beyond simply choosing your favorite color or an attractive design. Your frequency of practice, lineage, physical requirements, and general habits all help determine which mat is right for you.