It's decided, you get into yoga! We can only congratulate you on this initiative. Indeed, yoga is an ancestral discipline with multiple benefits. Be careful however, for an effective session, it is essential to choose your yoga mat carefully! Thin or thick? Big or small? Round or rectangular? Cotton or rubber? These are a thousand and one questions that jostle in your head. Don't panic, in this article we help you find the ideal yoga mat!
Why choose a real yoga mat?
When you first start yoga, it is tempting to find an extra mat. An old bath towel, a friend's gym mat, or the decorative mat in the living room... all of these options certainly seem practical and economical!
Naturally, everyone is free to do what they feel is best, according to their means. However, there are many reasons to buy a real yoga mat. For good reason, the yoga mat is not a useless gadget! On the contrary, it is an essential accessory.
Indeed, the yoga mat is fully designed for this practice. Contrary to many other mats, it combines several specific characteristics. It is these details that will allow you to really carry out your session in the best conditions.
The yoga mat's primary objective is to avoid imbalances and falls. It therefore has a safety function. It also offers a perfect comfort allowing you to let go more easily.
Let's see together precisely what are the characteristics of a good yoga mat?
Buying a yoga mat: the important criteria
A yoga mat should be neither too thick nor too thin. If it is too thin, you may not be able to perform your movements comfortably. However, if it's too thick, you won't feel enough of the floor under your body, and this will interfere with some of your sensations.
Similarly, a mat that is too thick can cause imbalance in certain slightly acrobatic positions. The right middle is therefore the ideal solution! A good yoga mat is about 4 to 6 millimeters thick, depending on your preferences and your usual practices.
Also, note that your physical condition is taken into account in this choice. For example, if you are pregnant or have joint pain, choose a 6 mm mat instead. On the contrary, if you suffer from back pain, choose a 4 mm mat instead.
Either way, listen to your body. Test several models, and choose the one you feel most comfortable with. It is very important to be totally comfortable in order to practice yoga in the best conditions.
A dimension adapted to your movements
Depending on the type of yoga practiced, the movements performed can be very diverse. While some practices require only a few gymnastic figures, others require a lot of space. It is therefore important to adapt the size of your mat to your way of doing things.
It is always better to choose a mat that is too big than too small. The size of a yoga mat must be adapted to all your movements. It would be a shame to finish your exercises halfway on the tile floor because you saw too much ...
To choose the right yoga mat, select a model that is at least a few centimeters longer than your waist in length. In width, you should be able to lie with your arms spread out without your hands sticking out of the mat. Always allow for a few centimeters wide.
Some people are afraid to take a carpet that is too large for fear of not being able to carry it easily. However, big doesn't necessarily mean heavy. A yoga mat can be big and light! For example, it can easily be folded in 4 in a bag. Yoga mats are usually 1mm thick.
A non-toxic and non-slip material
Yoga is above all a physical exercise. Effort often means perspiration. Hands and feet tend to slip easily after a few minutes of practice. The mat can also adhere poorly to the floor, and slip in turn.
These inconveniences undeniably disrupt the smooth running of the session. They can even lead to falls and injuries. It is therefore very important to choose a quality mat with a natural non-slip material.
First of all, avoid cotton mats, which are much too slippery. They can however be reserved for very soft yoga like yin yoga or hatha yoga. PVC, jute or wool mats are also to be avoided.
These are generally very slippery, not very durable, and sometimes even not very respectful of the environment and animals. We prefer cork or natural rubber, with, if necessary, a small towel underneath to optimize the non-slip aspect.
Also note that PVC yoga mats contain toxic substances. Few people know this, but this type of mat contains phthalates, which are carcinogenic toxins, as well as heavy metals, which are the cause of various chronic diseases.
All these undesirable substances can easily infiltrate the skin, especially with repeated use. It is therefore essential to find a yoga mat that is non-slip, ecological and respectful of your health in the long term.
What price to put in a yoga mat?
On the market, it must be admitted, the offers are very varied. It is possible to find a yoga mat at barely 15$ as at more than 50$. The difference is huge! It is therefore quite normal to ask the question: what is the right price for a yoga mat?
Of course, we will all be tempted to go for the most economical accessory. However, we have to be wary. Indeed, a discount yoga mat may seem attractive, but may be of lower quality and not last in time.
So, if you are obliged to buy a yoga mat every 3 months, the sum can quickly become consequent. In the end, isn't it cheaper to buy a more expensive but durable mat than a cheaper and ephemeral one? This question deserves to be asked.
We live in an industrial and productivist society which invites to consume more and more at the lowest prices. However, it would perhaps be preferable, in various fields of our life, to grant ourselves 1 true quality product than 5 mediocre products.
Favouring ethical products
Beyond quality, which is an essential point, ethics is also something that should be taken into account. It is important to know that when a product is very cheap, it generally comes from poor countries where workers are exploited for the benefit of big brands.
For example, it is not uncommon for discount yoga mats to be made in China or Bangladesh. It is therefore always better to buy your yoga mat from a small, passionate craftsman rather than from a multi-billion dollar chain store.
If you really want to buy your yoga mat from a single brand, look for committed brands. You can also sometimes find good second-hand products at lower prices.
Either way, make a purchase that reflects your values.
How to maintain your yoga mat?
Once you've bought the ideal yoga mat, it would be a shame to ruin it with a bad routine. In fact, like any product, a yoga mat can be maintained! Don't worry, it's nothing very complicated, just a few good habits to take!
During each session, your yoga mat can get dirty. With perspiration, bacteria accumulate, and are even sometimes responsible for bad odours. It is therefore recommended to disinfect your yoga mat after each use.
For this, you can perfectly concoct your own disinfectant based on natural ingredients. For example, a mixture of white vinegar combined with a few drops of lavender and lemon essential oils will do the trick!
Some yoga mats can be washed in the washing machine. If this is the case, it will be indicated on the instructions. However, if there is any doubt, it is best to avoid it. The washing machine, especially at high temperatures, can damage your yoga mat.
The same goes for the tumble dryer of course. Some materials have a very poor heat resistance. To avoid some irreparable damage, it is always better to let your yoga mat dry in the open air.
Note that, in any case, by regularly and scrupulously disinfecting your mat, you will need very little extra washing. Therefore, take great care of your yoga mat on a daily basis so that it will be your ally in the long run!
Conclusion on the choice of a yoga mat
Now you know all about the characteristics of the ideal yoga mat. Don't hesitate to check one by one all these criteria when making a purchase.