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
Rachel is the founder of VAI YOGA and an occupational therapist. Her yoga teaching focuses on blending two powerful healings, yoga and occupational therapy solutions, to help people face practical aspects of life.