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The best yoga mat is free from phthalates (that terrible smell that off-gasses from cheap yoga mats) and won’t slip when you get sweaty. While plenty of folks buy/use a $7.99 yoga mat and live happily ever after, I prefer well-known yoga brands that specialize in yoga mats, props, etc.
Where Can I Buy the Best Yoga Mat and Accessories?
I highly recommend Manduka (which means frog in Hindi) and Gaiam. Both of these companies have been around for quite a while, cater to yoga folks, and have a wide selection of eco-friendly mats. Both websites have customer ratings and reviews for each yoga mat, so you can decide which one will best meet your needs. Gaiam has an excellent yoga mat guide covering any question you might have.
How Thick Should My Yoga Mat Be?
Yoga mat thickness is measured in millimeters and might be the most important criteria to consider before your purchase. Also, the thicker your mat, the more it weighs.
Yoga mats range from 1 to 8 millimeters thick, with 3 millimeters being the standard measurement. Thickness can be a trade-off between weight and comfort. Although, I think a thinner mat helps me to lift myself off the surface when I hold a pose.
My favorite yoga mat is the Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Mat. It’s 1.5 millimeters thin, so thin it’s possible to fold it in squares and put it in a laptop bag, and made from natural rubber. I also like how its thinness motivates me to “lift” myself of the mat when I perform floor poses.
Also, the thicker the mat, the harder it is to perform balance poses. If you’re mainly doing meditation, such as Yoga Nidra, thick mats are wonderful.
What Length Should I Choose?
Travel mats are a bit shorter, regular mats are standard, and extra long mats are always clearly described as such in their descriptions. The length of your yoga mat depends on a few factors.
You might need an extra long yoga mat if
- Your feet hang off a standard mat during Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
- While doing yoga you find yourself running out of room as you move from pose to pose
Remember, extra length means extra weight.
The Convenience of Yoga Towels
Yoga towels are awesome and lay over the full length of the yoga mat. Instead of buying your own mat and carrying it around, you can do yoga on the mat at the studio; let your towel make the surface your own. When I lay my mat on concrete, I like to place the yoga towel over my travel mat to make it more comfortable.
Photo credit: Taf Ng