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|17 Jun|4 mins

Why Not All Yoga Mats Are Considered Equal 

How to master the art of choosing your yoga mat to suit your needs. 

June 21st is International Yoga Day! So you’ve chosen between Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Kundalini — and when they say it’s a life’s practice they really mean it. You may have noticed that yoga mats come in different thicknesses and materials and choosing one can be a confusing task. Here we take a deep dive on all the burning questions and how to decipher which one matches your mindfulness vibe. 

(When in doubt just pick a super zen pattern you love.)

1. Thickness 

How thick your mat is very much based on what your yoga style is. 

6-8mm: Known as a premium mat, this super thick style is best suited to those who prioritise comfort during their practice and aren’t shy of carrying a little extra weight when travelling to and from the studio. The extra padding supports you in postures where your bones might be inclined to dig into the ground, especially helpful in restorative classes like yin that embrace more lying-down postures. 

4-5mm: The most commonly used thickness, also known as the standard yoga mat. Perfect combo for performance and portability. Ideal for beginners and regular yogis who like a strong, flowing practice with solid contact to the floor to help with stability during poses. 

1-3mm: These wafer thin mats make awesome travel mats given their easy rolling, folding and lightweight nature — while these provide ample balance making them great for tree pose given the close ground connection. Keep in mind there’s little to no padding which means your bones will be less supported. 

2. Material

What your mat is made of will overall dictate the other variables of it. 

PVC: aka vinyl is your standard entry-level that has long-lasting and high-performing qualities like comfort and stickiness. 

Foam and rubber: have similar performance qualities as PVC however are a more eco-friendly option with the only caveat being that both materials contain latex so opt for another option if you have any allergies. A bonus is that rubber is antimicrobial and antifungal. 

Cotton: is usually thinner than the above options yet is actually what traditional yoga mats were made out of. Commonly used stacked on top of other mats for more comfort. Cotton absorbs sweat well with grip increasing when wet but doesn’t offer the spray and wipe cleaning convenience that others do. 

Jute: Similar to cotton mats, jute is sustainable and resilient. Stacking on top of other mats is also preferred for extra support. As a more fibrous material it does absorb less moisture than cotton and the texture is rougher. \

Cork: Gaining a broader reputation for being a kinder to the earth material given that the Cork Oak Tree regenerates its stripped bark (making it a renewable resource). This natural material has antimicrobial properties and is lightweight making it ideal if you like to practice on the go. Equally durable and offers a lot of traction. 

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3. Grip 

This refers to how well your skin sticks to the mat. It’s more of a suction-like quality (rather than literal stickiness) that helps you hold your pose and maintain proper alignment. Ranking high in the non-slip is PVC and foam (however only sticky when clean so not ideal if regularly sweating) followed by rubber and cork. Jute and cotton have zero stickiness. 

4. Texture 

Very similar to grip, texture helps you maintain balance and alignment. Whereas grip uses suction, texture means a varied surface to prevent slipping and sliding. Without both of these more active forms of yoga (eg: power or hot yoga) can be tricky. To prevent sliding opt for rubber, cork, jute and cotton which will keep your poses secure no matter how much you break a sweat. 

Smoother mats like PVC and foam work well for restorative yogas like yin or meditation classes since you’ll be lying down for longer periods of time. In this case, thickness and comfort are higher priority. 

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