Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gearing Up for Iyengar Yoga: The Right Yoga Mat

Your yoga mat is the single most important accessory in your yoga practice. A good mat provides the cushion you need to comfortably hold a pose and the traction to keep you from slipping. But as Iyengar yoga is so strongly grounded in proper technique and correct body alignment, choosing the right yoga mat is even more critical.

Traditional, or sticky, yoga mats are available in a variety of styles and sizes. When practicing Iyengar yoga, a standard 1/8” inch thick mat will likely offer enough padding to maintain even the more advanced poses. If you’re a little newer to Iyengar, though, consider a 1/4” thick yoga mat for added comfort. Granted, you may feel a little less connection to the floor, but the extra cushion can make many poses a bit easier to hold.

Also make sure to choose the right material to suit your needs. The most common yoga mats are made of PVC, or vinyl. Standard PVC mats deliver a solid mix of traction and durability, but are also easy to clean and maintain. Or you can choose from the growing selection of eco-friendly yoga mats. Mats made from environmentally-safe materials, including jute or natural rubber, have become very popular in recent years and are a great alternative to PVC.

So if your yoga practice is limited to a few classes a week at the local yoga studio or park district, a basic yoga mat will probably be fine. But if you’ve stepped up to Iyengar and are trying to ease the symptoms of chronic pain or increase your flexibility, then do your homework, shop around, and invest a little more in a better quality yoga mat.