What to look for in a Ma...
In a mat.
A Yoga Mat.
Choosing the right yoga mat is like picking the right man - get it wrong, and shit gets, slippery, fast.
Firstly, let’s just clear up a rule that applies to every scenario, no matter where you practice - the cheaper mats that smell of PVA and Synthetic glues are NOT GOOD for you, your practice or the environment.
You might think that all yoga mats are created equal and that anything over £20 is a joke - but I can assure you that this is not the case. On cheaper rubber mats your hands will slowly slide out from underneath you in a prolonged and torturous manner, like that scene first fall scene from Cliffhanger where Stallone drops Sarah and his life turns upside down from there.
While slipping on your yoga mat might not be quite as dramatic it's frustrating none-the-less and probably not conducive to a relaxing or even effective yoga class.
So if you’re willing to invest a little into your practice, I can’t recommend enough, investing firstly into a very functional and practical yoga mat.
I’m here to hopefully eliminate all the confusion around making your choice, based on the type of yogi you are, catering to different circumstances and scenarios:
The travelling Yogi
Yoga mats these days are heavy and let's face it, that shape is not the most ergonomically friendly to carry around. No matter how functional your Lululemon ‘yoga’ bag is - it still manages to knock some poor lady in the head when you’re turning around in a busy tube (clearly speaking from experience here aren’t I?!).
The Jade travelling yoga mat is good for the environment (made from natural rubber and they plant a tree for every mat sold). It’s easy to carry by hand, and in my experience, it’s the best performing travel yoga mat that also magically provides a decent amount of cushioning (something that isn’t as common of travel mats).
Who this isn’t for: I indeed can’t think of ANYONE that wouldn’t benefit from this mat. I think it’s fantastic and I’ve had mine for over six years - I use it both at home, at the beach and when I’m going to yoga studios. If you’re looking for a thicker mat that just lives in your home, then this possibly isn’t the best choice, but it’s also not the wrong choice.
You can find them here:
The Hot Yogi (be it a hot yoga class or you just sweat a sh*tload in yoga)
If you’re going to be wet for 85% of the class be it your own sweat or the humidity levels caused by other peoples sweat, it would be more beneficial to practice on a towel like material, rather than plastic or plastic-like substance. Enter the towel based eco mat. This mat is designed to soak up sweat and is the mat I used when practising on Bondi beach after a sunrise swim (sigh - those were the days).
Who this isn’t for: If you are a dry yogi or non-hot yogi. When this mat is completely dry it can be slippery - and when I say slippery, I don’t mean in the same way as a cheap, un-environmentally friendly plastic mat. Instead, in downward facing dog, your hands will sort of jerk out from underneath you. You can fix this, by wetting down the mat with a spray bottle, but it can be distracting to the yoga practice if you continually have to wet it in between sun salutations. In saying that, these mats are always so beautiful and look great on my lounge room floor - they never cease to inspire me to practice.
You can find them here:
https://artogi.com/ (my gorgeous friend started this company, commissioning various artists to design a bespoke piece of art for the mats. They unify the idea of yoga and art).
https://yogaeverywhere.com.au/collections/yoga-mats (another friend of mine from Australia who take the beautiful birds eye images that are printed onto these eco mats. It means that I get to practice on Bondi Beach when I’m at home in London).
The Homely Yogi:
If your practice is mostly in the comfort of your own home, you’ll want a sturdy, non-slip yoga mat that provides enough cushioning for heavy or even pointy bones (like mine). The B-Mat is my go-to home yoga mat. The company makes a broad range of mats varying in length and thickness, so it’s entirely up to you, but because I practice on Floor Boards, I prefer it to be both long and thick (we’re still talking about yoga mats right? Yes, we are.)
B-Yoga Mats are a pretty impressive Canadian yoga mat company, and their mats are Azodicarbonamide Free (which is that toxic ‘yoga mat’ chemical that is also often used in fast food bread - thankfully banned in foods here in the UK).
For anyone that slips in downward facing dog, this mat has got your back (or hands and feet in this case). It feels like you have Spiderman hands and no matter how sweaty your hands there is minimal chance of slippage.
Who this isn’t for: Again, much like the Jade mat, this is suitable for most scenarios. However, it might not be necessary for yogis practising Bikram, as there is no downward dog or sun salutations in that sequence and y’all just need something to soak up the copious amounts of fluids and minerals you are losing.
You can find them here:
Method Movement in Chelsea sells these mats (if that’s easier for you to get to) http://www.methodmovement.co.uk/