You have decided to take the leap and buy a yoga mat. As you begin your search, you quickly realize that there is more to it than picking the first mat you see. Not all mats are created equal and not all serve the same purpose. Here are the things you should consider before making a decision.
Many consider 3mm thickness to be standard. You may look at that and think you’ve found the right thickness but it may or may not be the right fit for you. More thickness, like 5mm, offers better cushioning in poses that rely on your joints. If you are new to yoga and are looking to build joint and muscle strength or you have aching joints, then we strongly recommend a thicker mat like 5mm.
That’s not to say the 3mm mat does not have its own advantages. Thinner mats allow a much closer and stronger contact with the ground which provides more stability than a thicker mat in various standing poses and poses where balance is key. Thinner mats are also lighter to carry which brings us to our next point.
Image credit: Avelino Calvar Martinez
If you prefer practicing yoga at your favourite studio or gym, you will find that thinner mats are lighter to carry and travel with. Many people also settle with buying more than one mat with different thicknesses and weight. This means that you can leave a thicker mat at home and carry a lighter one with you. If you cannot afford to own more than one mat, we would again recommend sticking with a thicker mat.
Size refers to the length and width of the mat. Typically, 68 inches long by 24 inches wide is considered standard. However, as with other things, don’t just settle with the standard size. The key metric to consider when looking at size is your height. The general rule is that the taller you are, the longer the mat you will need. The standard size works well if you are 5’8” and under. If you are taller, then pick a mat that’s longer. Standards aside, our recommendation is to go for a slightly longer mat anyway because of the extra space you will have. Our mats are all 72 inches long and we recommend them for anyone up to 6’ tall.
The most commonly used material to make yoga mats is PVC (polyvinyl chloride). According to some estimates, the global production of PVC is anywhere between 40-60 million tons with production growing 3.2% every year between 2014 and 2021 and none of it is biodegradable. This means that when it ends up in the landfill, it will continue to leak toxic chemicals into the environment. The harmful effects of PVC on humans are also well documented so we recommend avoiding mats made of PVC. Fortunately, nature provides many alternatives including cork and natural rubber. These materials, being natural, don’t contain harmful chemicals and are biodegradable. They come from nature and return to it.
Image credit: Andrew Gosine