It is not recommended to perform yoga without using the right yoga mat. A yoga mat of the right texture, material and thickness helps you perform your asanas with ease. The thickness of the yoga mat should be such that it provides ample padding and yet helps you make a connection with the ground. A Pilates mat is generally thicker than a yoga mat and is not suggested for yoga, while a yoga mat can be used for Pilates. Similarly, you need to pick up the right yoga mat that has the right degree of stickiness. This prevents slippage while performing asanas. You need to establish a better grip with your body while performing these asanas.
If you perform gentle yoga, you need a mat with a higher level of grip. These gentle yoga asanas include Hatha, prenatal, restorative or yin. For these slower postures, you need to buy a mat that is between 5 to 8 mm thickness. Such a mat will provide cushioning to your joints. If your mat is too thin, your joints will pain while performing asanas such as the Crescent Lunge. But if your mat is too thick like ¼ inch, you will feel a greater level of cushioning and will not be able to connect to the ground. Such thick mats are not ideal for tree poses as they will make you wobbly. A standard yoga mat is generally around 1/8 inch thick. If you practice yoga while traveling, you can go in for the very thin varieties measuring 1/16 inches, as they are very light-in-weight and practical to carry.
A good material ensures a good texture, feel and durability. Pick a yoga mat that has the right amount of stickiness to the ground, eco-friendliness and cushioning. Regular yoga mats are made from PVC. The eco-friendly ones available today are made from recycled rubber, jute and even organic cotton. But if you are allergic to latex material, it is better to avoid the natural rubber mats. In such cases, a PVC mat is best. These last the longest. Jute and cotton yoga mats are the least durable.
A yoga mat should also provide the right amount of traction. If your postures require a lot of sliding and slipping, you need to opt for a material that is not too sticky. Textures available in yoga mats can be raised bumps, roughness due to jute material or softness due to PVC fabrication. You can choose a yoga mat as per your preferences. If you find PVC mats to be very slippery, you can go in for rubber, cotton or jute ones. You can also select those with a slightly raised and tactile design. This design prevents slippage and helps you stay put even if you sweat a lot.
You obviously do not want a yoga mat that makes you slide everywhere. You need something that provides some grip and helps you maintain your alignment. PVC yoga mats are ideal for this. A PVC provides the right amount of stickiness only when it’s clean. So you need to wipe the sweat and dirt after every use.
So, keep these factors in mind while buying the best yoga mats.