Friday, April 16, 2010

Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for You: Price and Budget

As you can imagine, the price range of quality yoga mats can be as wide as the selection. You can spend as little as $15 for a standard vinyl mat at the local sporting goods store or more than $100 for a high-end mat in a studio boutique. Again, though, your budget will depend on your specific needs, style, attitude, and practice.

The bottom line? You typically get what you pay for. Whether you’re a seasoned pro and spend hours a week on your practice or you’re brand new to yoga, your yoga mat is an investment. Take your time, do your research, experiment with different sizes and materials and, above all else, don’t skimp on quality.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for You: Materials, Texture and Eco Friendly Yoga

For a variety of reasons, the materials used to manufacture your yoga mat can make a big difference in your practice. You want maximum comfort, cushion, and stability. You’ll need the right non-slip or absorbent surface depending on your style of yoga. And if you’re looking for an eco-friendly yoga mat, you’ll have plenty of options.

A Material Issue. Not long ago, most yoga mats were made of PVC, or vinyl. Conventional vinyl mats do have advantages. They provide ideal traction, have just enough of “give,” and are easy to clean. Vinyl sticky mats offer a slight texture, which also helps to prevent slipping, and a softer feel than others.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives. What if you practice yoga and are concerned about the impact on the environment? While PVC mats aren’t biodegradable and may end up clogging landfills, you do have options, all of which have pros and cons. Jute yoga mats, for example, have become very popular among the eco-friendly set and are made of natural plant fibers. They tend to be a bit pricier, though, and have a harder, more organic texture than traditional mats. Natural rubber yoga mats provide excellent grip, cushion and durability. But if you’re allergic to latex, stay away.

The Feel of Cotton. Depending on the specific style of yoga you practice, a cotton yoga mat might be perfect for you. Cotton mats are extremely comfortable and absorbent. And the mat of choice for that hot yoga class or simple meditation. They won’t replace a vinyl or eco-friendly sticky mat, though, as cotton mats tend to slide around on hard floors.

When deciding on the right material in your yoga mat, consider both the practical implications and your personal preference.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for You: The Right Size

Browse the yoga mat selection online or at your local yoga studio and you’ll notice that most are the standard 68” long and 1/8” inch thick. But dig a little deeper and you’ll likely be able to find the right combination of length, thickness, and weight to match your needs.

Size Does Matter. While a standard 68” mat will do for most of us, you may be a little taller or just want some extra length. Shop around. You’ll find yoga mats in lengths up to 80” and be surprised at the difference an extra long mat can make.

A Little More Cushion? With any yoga mat, it’s important that you feel a connection to the ground and keep your balance, especially during standing poses. But if you ever find yourself stacking 1/8” mats because of an injury or you just want a bit more cushion, consider upgrading to a 1/4” thick yoga mat. Thicker mats are becoming more common and are relatively easy to find online.

Weighing In. You’ll likely never give much thought to how much your yoga mat weighs. Unless, of course, you travel a lot and don’t want to lug a heavy mat around the airport. Or even around town. Travel yoga mats are becoming more than just a niche in the market as more people take their yoga on the road with them. Most are only 1/16” thick and can be pretty easily folded and tossed into your carry-on bag. Despite the obvious trade-offs of less cushion and durability, travel yoga mats make sense for both road warriors and local travelers.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to settle for a standard-sized yoga mat. Experiment a little, understand your options, and take the time to find just the right mat for you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for You: Types of Yoga Mats

As the yoga movement has grown over the years, so has the selection in yoga mats. It wasn’t that long ago when your choices were limited to a handful of colors in the standard PVC-mat. Things have changed. But while mats are now available in a wide variety of sizes, materials, and styles, there are still two basic types of mats.

A traditional, or sticky, yoga mat prevents slipping and helps you stay aligned as you move from pose to pose. Sticky mats are used in the more common forms of yoga, including Hatha and Iyengar, that focus on physical postures. Many yoga studios will let you use or rent a basic yoga mat during classes, but you’ll probably want to invest in your own.

Cotton yoga mats have become increasingly popular with the trend towards physically demanding yoga styles---such as Bikram, or hot yoga, and Ashtanga---in which you’ll end up sweating quite a bit. Cotton mats will better absorb perspiration and keep you cool, but may slip a bit on hard floors. Incredibly comfortable and cushy, they can also be stacked for shoulderstands and are ideal for meditation, restorative yoga and pregnant moms.

Whichever variation of the sticky or cotton yoga mat you choose, take your time and find the mat best suited to your taste, comfort, and practice.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for You

So it’s time to buy your first yoga mat. Or you just want to replace the one you’ve been using for years. In either case, do your homework and make sure you choose the best yoga mat for your individual needs.

The right yoga mat can give you the stability and comfort you need in even your most challenging poses. But remember, everybody’s different. Worried about that nagging back pain and need a little more cushion? Looking for a mat that you can bring along on the road? Maybe you just signed up for a hot yoga class at your local yoga studio and want extra absorbency.

And let’s face it. At the end of the day, your mat is a reflection of you. Whether you opt for a functional sticky mat, the most eco-friendly material, or the latest and most stylish pattern, you’ll likely be able to find the perfect yoga mat to suit your tastes and personality.

Shop wisely and consider your options. Over the next few posts, we’ll explore the key factors in buying the ideal mat: type of mat, size, material, and cost.