We are choices overload when we are looking for a yoga mat. There are different materials and textures, with a price range from $5 to $200. You may also ask how thick of a yoga mat should I get? Which is the best yoga mat? What is a yoga mat made out of?
It is very unlikely to buy the right one as your first yoga mat if you have never done yoga before. When we don’t know how to choose it, we only choose our favorite color within our budget. It is not necessarily to pick the most expensive one, but we can follow some guidelines when we select the yoga mat. You want a yoga mat that helps you get the most out of your yoga practice.
1. Material and texture
Nothing is more annoying than sliding your hands in downward facing dog when your yoga teacher asks you to hold there for three breathes. We need a good grip so as to avoid sliding and slipping when we push ourselves away from the mat and stretch our body. Yoga mats are usually made of TPE, PVC and EVA.
TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer) yoga mat is a form of synthetic rubber, consisting of three layers. The middle layer is to keep the shape of the mat, while the top and the bottom of the layers have different grips. It is able to stick between the floor and the mat, as well as the mat and your hands and feet. This mat is eco-friendly and you can use either side of the mat.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) yoga mat is durable, easy to clean and sticky. It is common and popular because it is value for money and effective. However, it is not easy for consumers to know the types of PVC the yoga mat is made of. Heavy chemicals' vinyl should be avoided.
EVC yoga mat is made of light material. It is unable to roll out flat on the floor and easily move around.
Yoga mat price ranges from $5 to $200. When you are not sure if you like yoga or not, probably you don’t want to invest too much. TPE is at the top range, followed by PVC and EVA. Apart from materials and texture, other factors include latex-free, non-toxic materials, eco-friendliness, customised patterns or brands from well-known yoga gear shops or your yoga studios determine the price. Usually students start with PVC with non-toxic yoga mat, basic and durable. You need the one with latex-free if you are allergic to latex. I also start yoga with PVC yoga mat. Not until I practice three times or more in a week, I choose to buy a high quality TPE/natural rubber yoga mat because I avoid exposing to chemicals as much as possible. PVC yoga mat is about $20 - $30. TPE yoga mat is about $40 - $70. EVA yoga mat is as low as $5. Personalised pattern yoga mat is up to $200.
Do you have knee pain? You need extra support for your practice when you have knee pain. There are many gentle postures that we drop one knee down onto the mat. 6mm thickness yoga mat can absorb the shock and prevent joint pain from body movements. It is also suitable for high impact yoga practice like Vinyasa flow. Some yoga mat is as thick as 10mm. It is too soft to do balance pose. It is not easy to feel the connections to the ground. If you do not have knee pain, 4mm is good enough.
The standard length of yoga mat is 173cm. There are yoga mats as long as 183cm. If you are tall, it is good to choose a longer mat for your practice so you don’t squeeze yourself into a small yoga mat.
It is ok to give it a try either TPE or PVC yoga mat. Do you need a thicker mat for extra support to your knees? Are you a tall person? Do you want to protect the environment every time when you purchase? How much are you willing to pay for it? How regular do you practice yoga? No slide. No toxins. Enjoy your class in comfy and cushy mat.
Founder and Yoga Teacher of VAI YOGA
Gary Blanch Park is special to many Ashfield residents. Local groups and schools participated in redeveloping this beautiful park and volunteering events held in the park. The park looks amazing. When you realize this is a community-based project, it is even more amazing. We choose to walk our dogs pass the park everyday. Kids and families make the park alive throughout the summer. Oh and yogis too! It’s so nice to come back to the park for yoga every Saturday mornings. It’s great to see regular students and new faces in our local community.
Even we know there are many benefits of doing yoga, there are still many reasons why we feel hesitated about joining a yoga class, time, cost, and other hidden feelings. Here are four reasons why your local park is the best place to do yoga.
1. You can hide yourself
We are all beginners when we just start doing yoga and we learn to accept our body limit but do the best we can. Beginners feel uncomfortable in a new venue with a new teacher and new classmates. When you think all others can touch their toes, balance and do everything but you can’t, you feel even more uncomfortable. Personal space is important to everyone, especially in a new environment. I always ask a few questions to new students and see where they are at before the class. “Have you done yoga before?” “Any injuries or issues I need to know?” A lady told me she did yoga four times five years ago and she was going to stay at the corner of the back row. It is ok for you to focus on your own practice and avoid any attention. The park is spacious enough for you to stay away from attention. I don’t encourage any new students to hide themselves but if that is what you need, please do. Also, I will still give you a bit of attention.
2. Babysit when you are doing yoga
It’s hard to find some ‘me’ time when you have so many work and family commitments. Yoga session in the park is absolutely kids friendly. We all share the park and it is nice to see kids having fun, people walking dogs while we are doing yoga. While you are doing yoga, your children are having fun in the playground. Babies are welcome too. When you need to walk away with your baby during the class, don’t worry you will bother others. We don’t really know about it.
3. Know your neighbours
How do you start a conversation with your neigbbours? We all want a strong community to help and support with each other. It is so much easier to kick-start a conversation and chat about what’s happening around the community when we are like-minded. This group makes efforts to optimize our wellbeing and we like to talk about health and wellbeing too. Your classmate will introduce you to drink apple cider vinegar that is an effective remedy for dry throat, or tell you a secret way to stop hiccups. You may find your classmate with similar medical conditions to you and you are able to support with each other.
4. Connect to nature
Summer is really lovely in Perth especially early in the morning. Put some sun cream on and enjoy yoga in the sun. Birds are singing but one may swoop you when you are trying to balance with one leg. Sometimes, cloud covers a spectrum of sun and you can enjoy some beautiful breeze. It’s fun and challenging when you do a tree pose on the lawn too.
Morning yoga runs an hour every Saturday mornings throughout the summer. Bring along yoga mat and sunglasses to join in with us. This is the perfect way to start your weekend.
See what Anna feels about doing yoga in the park
Rachel is the founder of VAI YOGA. She follows her yoga journey from Hong Kong to Fiji and Australia. She is now sharing the joy of yoga and continues down this path in Perth.