Updated: Dec 1, 2020
If you only have one piece of yoga equipment you need a mat. But there is an astonishing array out there. What factors do you need to take into consideration?
Type of material. As a yogi you will need to be conscious of this. Check for eco-friendly mats made from natural ingredients or synthetic materials made with eco-friendly processes and ingredients that are NOT harmful to people or the planet. Sadly not all mats are the same: some synthetic ones still contain harmful dyes and chemicals.
Grip You may need to hold you downward dog so it is essential that your hands and feet remain in place! You need a mat that can support each pose with a good, solid foundation, without slipping. These mats are commonly known as ‘sticky mats’.
Thickness. The thicker the mat the more cushioning it will provide will also provide more comfort, as well as insulation from that cold studio floor! Beware of thick mats that slip and, even worse thick mats that stretch when you are trying to perfect your Warrior 1!
Size and weight If you're tall, make sure you get a longer mat, or you risk stepping off it and hurting yourself. If you walk to a class and carry your mat, I don't recommend a thick one. It will start to feel heavier and heavier with each step you take, so go for a standard weight. or lightweight.
Visuals You can choose plain subtle colours or bright ones according to your personal taste and you may be drawn to a pattern. Mats with a design on can sometimes be helpful because they can help you remember the correct alignment of the feet in some poses and there are some beautiful patterned mats out there particularly those with a mandala.
Style of yoga For Hatha yoga you can use any type of mat whilst other vigorous types of yoga such as Ashtanga Vinyasa probably need a mat that can take more impact from the yoga poses you will be practising.
TOP 3 STICKY MATS
1. LEMON ZEST'S BEST CHOICE FOR PRICE, PERFORMANCE, QUALITY AND ECO
The Ekotex Eko Sticky Mat
The Eko Sticky Mat is available in four great colours: Violet, Storm, Ocean and Leaf and all of them look beautiful. Ekotex really do have a good eye for design and they get my top vote also for sustainability. This mat is delivered safely with no paper wrapper, and zero single-use plastic. Each mat is delivered with a small, recycled card insert with product information. This has been tried and tested by my students and all recommend it as soft but also very grippy even from the start. Ekotex is a great company, based in Edinburgh who are doing their bit to help the planet.
This mat was featured in British Vogue's Shortlist, it is developed using a more eco-friendly material than a standard sticky mat and it's great for beginners. You can buy it on its own or as part of the Ekotex Home Bundle or Ekotex Essentials bundle. It's excellent value for money and a very smart choice for you and and the environment.
Ekotex sticky mats come in 4 lovely subtle colours
2. BEAUTIFUL COLOUR, DESIGN AND PERFORMANCE- GOOD ECO CREDENTIALS
The MLife eco-friendly beginners yoga mat
The MLife eco-friendly beginner's yoga mat is another great choice. It, has a 4mm thickness to ensure comfort and has been designed in partnership with yoga experts from around the world and has a beautiful design which looks like a Mehndi (henna) print. You can also rest easy in your Savasana knowing that no ozone depleting materials have been used. It is latex free so great if you suffer from allergies and manufactured free from the most harmful phthalates. MLife is actually one of the most popular brands mats in Europe, it grips well and I picked it for its attractive and unusual colour. Mlife is a reliable brand with great credentials.
MLife mats and eco-friendly
3. ECO-YOGA RANGE OF UNUSUAL AND NATURAL COLOURS- 100% ETHICAL
Eco-Yoga is perhaps the most iconic ethical yoga mat made of jute and rubber
If you have a little more money available, this yoga mat is the iconic choice for the ethical consumer. It was probably the first UK ethical yoga mat, produced for the first time in 2003, way ahead of the curve. The ecoYoga mat is highly acclaimed in the yoga world as they are made according to the yogic principle of Ahimsa (non-violence) to the planet, so you can rest assured that they do not have hidden ugly origins. They are made from specially woven jute fabric, are biodegradeable, machine washable and feature a rubber underside for grip.
BEST MAT FOR PREGNANCY YOGA
The Bump Mat- by Tara Lee
Best mat for pregnancy yoga and if you are injured
This mat is the ultimate when you are doing pregnancy yoga and won Gold Award in the Mother & Baby Awards 2018! It has a centre line to help find alignment and a dual surface- pink or grey. It really does not slip and has a thick cushion to give the ultimate comfort and support. Many people go on to use this mat once they've had their baby and you can also treat yourself to it if you aren't pregnant. It so comfortable for long Savasanas and restorative yoga and gets a lot of votes for cushioning if you have an injury. You can also rest assured you aren't going to slip in poses with longer holds. There's reason why this mat has won an award and it was designed with Tara Lee who is a yoga teacher so knows what she is talking about. You can get this luxurious item at Ekotex and it is well worth the extra money. In buying it here you are also supporting an ethical family business.
BEST EXTRA LONG MAT
The Rishikesh Premium Yoga Mat
Rishikesh also have a great reputation and you may like to get an extra long mat for home practice and comfort. It's also fantastic if you are tall, so you know you won't step back onto a hard floor in your sun salutations! It feels luxurious and thick and is shock absorbing. It's a sticky mat but feels bigger and better. In fact, it is the world's biggest selling studio mat and it's so good you can get it in grey, to match everything. Very much a colour of now! I've used it in more than one studio I've been in and it has a 'professional' vibe. It's free of phthalates and toxic ingredients in general and is tested according to strict OKO-TEX standards. If you can afford it and want comfort and luxury from your sticky mat, this is definitely one to consider.
BEST MAT MADE FROM NATURAL MATERIALS
The Cork Eco Yoga Mat
If you don't want plastic, even if recyclable, think cork. A cork mat is the best option if you suffer from allergies to latex or PVC and it really does give a natural feel to your yoga space. Though they cost more, they will probably last longer. As a material, cork is much easier to clean than plastic, has anti-bacterial qualities and will only ever need a quick wipe down, whereas at some point you will probably need to put your plastic yoga mat in the washing machine. Cork mats also feel very robust and you never feel you are slipping on the floor when you use one, though I have found it's sometimes a good idea to have some chalk around, especially in the summer when your hands are sweaty and you want to stay in downwards dog. What stops it sliding is that the underside s made of non-slip natural rubber and I love the flower of life design on it, with a line to help your alignment in Warrior II. If I were in the market for a new mat, I think this would be my personal choice. It's high quality, will last for years, attractive and a joy to practise on. Maybe I will treat myself to this soon. This is a very beautiful and practical choice.
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT MAT
The Aimerday Pro Non-slip eco friendly mat
This is not a well known name, but it is a lovely light mat and easy to carry around. Although it is very thin, it offers cushioning to the feet and is extra long. I bought this mat in 2018 as an eco-friendly option. It's made of recyclable latex-free, phthalate-free TPE material so disposing of it will not cause harm to the environment, though it does not have a certificate for its production. If I was buying it now I would definitely have checked that! It's easy to transport if you are on foot so could be a useful addition and it has a very attractive marbled design, which looks good with everything. It does not slip, as the under side of it is ridged and so stays put on the floor, even on polished wood. It does tend to curl up, even though I have had it for over a year now. I do recommend it but feel if I were to buy a mat now, I would rather look at the buying choices above, to be sure of an ethical purchase, and support local UK businesses and products made in Europe.
I really do hope this guide has given you options and insights into how to make a good choice when buying a yoga mat, especially if it's your first mat purchase. May it get sweaty and serve you for a long time in your practice!
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