Choosing a yoga Mats
Yoga mats come in many different types. The different types of yoga mats vary in their level of Stickiness, thickness, and shock absorption, type of material, size, weight colour and price. It is worth considering these factors before you chose the best mat for your yoga practice. Your choice of yoga mat will probably be influenced greatly by the type of yoga you practice.
Choosing the best yoga mat
First you should consider what type of yoga you wish to practice.
Padded comfortable yoga mats
If you are going to practice very gentle yoga, and you are quite overweight, then you may like to consider a very padded mat, that will be comfortable if you are mainly practicing ‘lying down’ yoga postures or sitting postures rather than the stronger standing yoga Asanas.
These types of ‘padded yoga mats’ are often used by Satyananda yoga teachers or some Kundalini yoga teachers who have older beginner type classes. The mats usually consist of two parts. The inside of the mat is usually made of foam which is about 1 inch thick, and an outer removable cloth covering which can be taken off to be washed.
It is very difficult to find a place to buy these mats and most yoga teachers have theirs specially made for them. They buy a piece of 1 inch foam which is about 6 foot 6 inches long and about 2 foot 6 inches wide. They buy material which has a good grip such as strong velvet. And give it to a curtain maker to make a removable cover for the piece of foam. Velcro is the best way to seal the outer cover closed.
These mats can be great fro older people who may be practicing a lot of lying down postures, as the foam gives good comfortable support for the back and spine.
The disadvantage of these types of yoga mats is that they do not offer as much grip as a normal non-slip yoga mat.
Non slip yoga mat or Sticky mats
These are the usual type of yoga mats that one sees in most yoga classes or for sale on most yoga shop websites, sometimes called a sticky mat.
They offer good grip which is useful for standing postures and postures such as the downward dog where ones hands need very good grip.
It is very important that one’s hands get good grip and do not slip in these postures. By getting good grip, one is able to push back strongly and get correct alignment of the spine. If ones hands start to slip, often one has to compensate and try to tense the fingers more to hold on, and often one does not get the correct extension of the spine resulting in a curved back.
Your mat must have good grip
So one of the most important factors in choosing a good yoga mat is that one gets good grip with the mat.
One factor that affects our grip on the mat is the amount that our own body tends to sweat during the practice.
If one practices Ashtanga yoga or some other form of very strong energetic yoga, then one is likely to sweat a lot more than if one is practicing a more gentle form of yoga such as Sivinanda yoga, or gentle hatha yoga.
Each person sweats to a greater or lesser degree to the next person. If you sweat a lot, then you should choose carefully the type of yoga mat you purchase.
If one sweats a lot, as the sweat falls on the yoga mat it tends to make the mat somewhat slippy, making it more difficult to get a grip. And the slippiness increases as the amount of sweat increases.
Some people who practice ashtanga seriously, (by which I mean their practice is over 60 minutes long) the amount they sweat increases during the time they practice, often use two mats.
They begin their practice using the usual sticky mat which is especially good for sun salutations and the downward dog.
As they begin to sweat more, they then cover the sticky mat with a canvas mat which gives more grip as it becomes wet with sweat.
Some people use non-slip towels which are placed over their non slip yoga mat. These towel type mats absorb the sweat and tend not to get slippy as one sweats more.
Some non slip mats work better than others when sweaty
Some sticky mats, especially the newer more expensive Eco-Tex mats which are sold as environmentally friendly, can get slippy as one begins to sweat more.
Some people do not sweat much even when they practice strong ashtanga, so they may wonder what I am referring to.
However, if you are one of those unfortunate practitioners who find that your hands slip as you begin to sweat….. it may be worth considering trying a different yoga mat.
Wash your sticky mat when you buy it
Most sticky mats are covered with a thin film when one buys it new. You won’t notice this unless you know what to look for. The first thing to do with any new yoga mat (not the rubber ones or some of the harder thicker mats) is to wash it in the washing machine at about 40 degrees Celsius, with no washing powder. And maybe wash it 2 or 3 times in a normal wash cycle.
Then dry the yoga mat by placing a bath towel beneath the yoga mat, and another one of top of the mat. Roll this sandwich up as tightly as possible to squeeze out the excess water. Then hang out to dry in a warm place for about 2 to 4 days.
And the more use you give your yoga mat, the more sticky it will become.
Places to buy yoga mats online
If you live in the UK or in Europe you may wish to but from the Yoga Shop UK at
Check out the ‘extra’ yoga mat which is very good quality and reasonable in price
And no i don’t get any commission 😉
I wish you well with your practice.