The world is not the same as it used to be a couple of years back. But this stretched ‘stay-at-home’ period has certainly taught us that a lot can be managed at home, without us needing to venture outside. Like work, interviews, video calls, and exercise sessions. When it comes to working out from home, a lot of people have made the transition from gymming to yoga. Also, the mental turbulence and the anxiety of the uncertainty that this pandemic period has caused have propelled many of us to try out yoga to give us some mental calm and peace. If you are someone who has been doing yoga for years or has recently started to practice yoga asanas at home, a yoga mat is probably the only equipment piece that you need. Read on as we suggest the best yoga mats that you can buy and also a few pointers to keep in mind while choosing a new yoga mat for yourself.
Why Is a Yoga Mat so Important for Workout?
Yoga asanas should always be done on a yoga mat. Though this is not a hard rule, it is advised for the betterment. You must have seen elderly and young people, early in the morning, doing yoga asanas in a park or open area. If you will notice, all of them are doing it on a yoga mat. Even though it is advised that walking barefoot on green grass has a lot of advantages, experts would always discourage you to do yoga on the grass. The yoga mat provides a leveled, grounded, cushion surface. If you are practicing the asanas on barren land with small rocks and pebbles, you are surely going to hurt yourself. Also, you might get pressed at any of your nerves and suffer an internal injury. A yoga mat saves you from all these hassles.
Most of the yoga mats available in the market are non-slippery. If you are planning to practice asanas or some form of stretching exercises or even meditation regularly at home, one would advise you to invest in a suitable yoga mat for yourself. The marble or tile floorings at home are usually slippery. Once you would start sweating, the floor would get slippery. With a good yoga mat that is made of a sweat-absorbent fabric, you do not have the fear of slipping away while practicing your movements. Also, the hard base of the flooring can press too hard against your bones and cause cramps while you do body movements. A soft, cushioned yoga mat would keep the base surface light and soft for us to move our body against it.
Also, one cannot just be at home and start practicing yoga asanas from wherever they are sitting. A yoga mat has kind of a professional symbolism to it. It marks your personal area of exercise. You may demarcate an area of your house as your workout area. One doesn’t really need to have an elaborate gym at home for workouts. Spread your yoga mat there, and have a few incense sticks lit up or an aroma diffuser to build up an atmosphere of tranquility. You may also have some light music playing in the background to soothe your senses. The yoga mat is just like your sphere of action then. You may go about doing all of your asanas and breathing exercises and feel like you are at a perfect yoga class.
At times when the monotony of staying at home creeps in really hard, you may carry your yoga mat to a nearby park or an open area and practice your postures there. Rough or smooth, you would not have to look out too hard for a suitable surface. One would just need a secluded corner and a ground base and you can spread your mat and engross yourself in an empowering yoga session. It also makes sense to mention here that a yoga mat does save you from all the dirt that might be lying on the ground and keeps you away from skin rashes or infections of any sort that you might get afflicted from the unhygienic surface.
What Should Be the Ideal Size of a Yoga Mat?
Earlier people would spread newspapers on the floor for doing their asanas. It might sound amusing now but that’s true. Bed sheets and towels have also been very commonly used. But that is not the ideal thing to do. The proportions of a yoga mat are designed in a way that evenly balances out the pressure from body weight. Of course, a towel or a bed cover is incapable of doing so.
A yoga mat typically measures 68 inches (172 centimeters) long and 24 inches (60 centimeters) wide. Though there are variations available with much broader widths, the length is mostly the same. With respect to thickness, a yoga mat can be anywhere from 1 millimeter to 8 millimeters thick. Having said that, 4 to 5 millimeters is the perfect thickness, irrespective of the material of the yoga mat.
Choosing the Fabric and Material of the Yoga Mat
Gone are the times when rough rubber mats were the only options available. Though the rubber mats have evolved and come in far superior and smoother variants now, there are still a lot of other options one can explore these days. While choosing the fabric for your mat, weigh the pros and cons. Some mats are more environmentally friendly, some are sweatproof, some are more durable than others, and some are more lightweight. You have to be sure of what your preference is and then make a purchase. Do ensure to read thoroughly through the product description while buying them online.
The most commonly available yoga mat materials are Rubber, TPE, PVC, Jute, Cork, Cotton and Wool, though rubber and synthetic yoga mats (TPE and PVC) happen to be the most popular ones.
1. Rubber Yoga Mat
A rubber mat is of two types – A natural rubber yoga mat and a synthetic rubber yoga mat. The natural rubber mat is made from, as the name suggests, natural rubber that is extracted from trees. These mats have an incredible grip and are very soft on the skin. Though a little heavy to carry, they provide a really smooth base to carry out your yoga asanas. They are eco-friendly, sustainable and very durable. The only downside is that they take a lot of time to dry up if wet and also if your skin is allergic to latex, the natural rubber may cause skin rashes or infection.
NBR is a type of synthetic rubber that is used in the aeronautical and automotive industries. It has gained a lot of popularity in the Yoga mat manufacturing industry because of its excellent heat-absorbing capabilities and softer cushioning. NBR synthetic rubber is not at all eco-friendly as it produces huge amounts of toxic substances that are hazardous to the environment. It is already banned in Europe, USA and Canada.
2. Synthetic Yoga Mat
Two commonly available synthetic Yoga mats are – PVC and TPE. PVC mats are usually a little on quality and hence, low on cost. They are made from PVC resin powder. But if a high-quality PVC material is used, then these mats are the best to use. They absorb moisture and sweat quickly; are super cushioning and also very soft on the top. They do not weigh heavy and can be easily carried around. Also, they are very easy to clean and are low maintenance. The only disadvantage is that these mats are not eco-friendly.
The TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers) yoga mats are made from polymers which is a type of plastic. These mats are again highly synthetic and are made with chemical and heat processes. They are comfortable for use though and can be very easily cleaned. They are lightweight and can be easily moulded and reused. However, they cannot be recycled. These mats are super affordable and a better option than PVC mats as they cause lesser environmental pollution during their production.
3. Jute Yoga Mat
Jute happens to be a natural fibre obtained from a plant source. Hence, the production of a jute mat does not cause much environmental stress. These mats usually have a layer of jute on one side and a layer of PVC on the other. Though they provide good cushioning, these mats are a little heavy to carry.
4. Cork Yoga Mat
Cork is again a plant-based material that is obtained from the cortex of the oak tree. It is a renewable resource; hence, no damage is caused to the trees while harvesting it. In a cork yoga mat, one side is of the cork and the other is mostly of TPE or natural rubber. These mats, again, provide good cushioning but are heavier to carry and also cost a little more than the other yoga mats.
Where to Buy Your Yoga Mat From?
Yoga mats are easily available both online and offline. During the pandemic, sales have definitely skyrocketed and every yoga enthusiast is keen to buy a yoga mat for their home.
For offline purchasing, you may check out any of the Decathlon, Puma, Adidas, Nike, or Home Centre stores around your place or a good sports and gym equipment store. For online purchasing, explore the options on the websites mentioned below:
These all brands sell premium, genuine yoga mats that are a great investment in your yogic practitioner and transformation journey.
Yoga Mat Price – How Much Does It Generally Cost?
A yoga mat can cost you anywhere from Rs. 500 to Rs. 5000 depending upon the material used and the authenticity of that material. However, it is advised to not opt for a very cheap yoga mat as the quality would be very inferior and it would just keep rolling up from the ends while you try hard to focus on perfecting your asanas.
The eco-friendly and natural rubber mats cost more than synthetic or cotton mats.
So, if there was anything that was holding you back from kick-starting your yoga journey, put it on the backburner now. Get yourself a comfortable yoga mat and give yourself that much-needed 30 minutes of stretching and workout that your body so needs during these tiring, lethargic days at home.