Choosing the best yoga mat - Your ultimate guide
One of the best things about yoga is the fact you can practise pretty much anywhere - with very little equipment. So long as you’ve got a mat and a few metres of floor space, you’re pretty much good to go.
That being said, choosing the right mat isn’t always easy. With an endless array of options varying in price, style, thickness, material and more, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
However, choosing the right mat will help you get the most from your practice. Therefore, it’s definitely worth taking the time to assess your needs and consider the different options available before making an investment.
So, what does the right mat look like? Well, it varies from person to person based on their own individual preferences, which means what’s best for you may be different from what’s best for someone else.
But don’t worry. To help you find a mat that works for you, we’ve created this ultimate guide which explains the most important factors to consider when choosing your yoga mat and answers all your mat-related questions. So, let’s begin.
The thickness of your mat can have a big impact on how comfortable you feel during your practice. A standard yoga mat is usually ⅛-inch (3mm), but if you’re particularly bony, or simply prefer some additional cushioning, you may want to opt for a 4mm or even a 5mm mat like our premium cork mat. Alternatively, if you prefer to have a closer connection to the ground, thinner options are also available.
Plastic/PVC mats tend to dominate the market and you can usually get one pretty cheap. However, if you’d rather opt for a more eco-friendly alternative, you may want to consider alternatives such as cork, rubber, jute or natural cotton. Cork yoga mats, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular, due to its sustainable manufacturing process. Cork even contains natural antibacterial properties, making cork yoga mats a more hygienic choice compared to PVC and other alternatives.
Whilst most plastic/PVC mats are described as ‘anti-slip’, the majority lose their grip as soon as you start to sweat, quickly becoming slippery and making it difficult to hold certain poses. That’s where a cork yoga mat is great. Cork contains natural gripping properties that increase as moisture is applied, meaning their grip actually improves as you sweat. This not only makes it easier to keep your balance in certain postures but helps to prevent injuries caused by slipping and sliding on your mat.
You can buy a cheap yoga mat for as little as £10, however, more premium mats can cost anywhere between £50-£200. If you’re new to yoga, you may want to consider buying a cheaper mat to begin with and see how you get on. If you decide it’s something you want to pursue, then perhaps you can invest in a higher quality mat. PVC mats are often the cheapest option, however, cork and rubber alternatives are more durable, so spending a little extra could be worth it in the long run.
Good alignment is important for preventing injuries and ensuring you the get the most from each posture. Therefore, you may want to consider an alignment mat. Unlike most standard mats, these have lines engraved on their surface to help you find the correct alignment in each posture. But if you’d rather stick to a normal mat, that’s fine too! With a whole range of patterns and colours to choose from, you’ll definitely be able to find a mat to suit your taste.
If you’re not carrying your mat around with you often, then the weight isn’t too important. But if you’re someone who is often lugging their mat around, then you may want to consider a lightweight option like our cork travel mat. Weighing in at just 1kg, you can take it just about anywhere!
So, we’ve addressed the most important factors to consider when choosing your mat. Now let’s take a look at some of the most common questions asked when it comes to making that all-important purchase.
What is the best yoga mat for beginners?
If you’re a complete newbie, it’s probably best to go for a cheaper option at first. This way, you don’t risk spending a lot of money, only to find you don’t get the use out of it. However, make sure you choose a mat with sufficient grip as this will make it much easier to hold each pose.
Which type of yoga mat has the best grip?
With its natural ‘sticking’ properties, it’s fair to say cork yoga mats are the winners here. We’ve already mentioned how their grip increases as you sweat, unlike most PVC alternatives which quickly become wet and slippery. So, if you enjoy a more vigorous yoga session, we definitely recommend cork.
Are expensive yoga mats worth it?
Investing in a higher quality mat means it’s more likely to last longer, so if you know you’ll be using your mat regularly, we believe it’s worth spending a little extra. However, it’s important to remember that expensive doesn’t always guarantee good quality. So, if you are thinking about splashing out a little, be sure to check the reviews first.
Is there a difference between a yoga mat and an exercise mat?
Generally speaking, exercise mats are usually thicker than yoga mats and are designed to cope with more high-impact exercise. Whilst yoga mats provide some cushioning, being slightly thinner provides more stability and a stronger connection with the ground, helping you to feel more secure in each posture.
Hopefully, this guide has provided a useful insight into what makes a good yoga mat. But remember, the best yoga mat is the one most suited to your own individual needs - so don’t just choose the one your friend is recommending! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our range of eco-friendly yoga products, including our cork yoga mats, yoga blocks, and our all-new cork yoga wheel. And for every purchase made, CorkYogis donate 10% of its profits to Destiny Reflection, a Kolkata based charity that supports survivors of sex slavery and human trafficking.