New to yoga? It’s perfectly okay to grab the first mat you see in your local big-box store and get started. Any mat will provide a barrier between you and the floor and help keep you in place—an adequate start, like when your parents gave you their old Honda Civic. It got you from place to place juuuuust fine.
Ready for the upgrade? Or just enjoy looking at every purchase from all the angles? Read on, because there are a whole lot of details you can ponder when it comes to choosing a yoga mat.
How well your mat holds you where you want to be is a premier factor it its effectiveness. Unfortunately, there’s no stick-factor rating system to alert you to a mat’s grippiness, and so it’s not an easy thing to discern before you buy.
If you find your mat is more slippery than sticky, there are solutions! Mats are treated when they come out of the manufacturing process, and you have to fight past the preservatives to get to the stick. This happens over time, or you can hurry it along with salt or vinegar methods.
As for greatest stick, in general: PVC mats tend to be stickier than other materials, and texture helps. Find yourself a nubby, PVC mat, and you should be held in place like cotton to Velcro.
If part of a yoga mat’s job is cushioning the floor, then thicker is better, right? Maaaaaybe. Depends on how you use it. If you travel a lot, a super-thin, foldable mat might make more sense for you. Thinner also may be better if you do a lot of balancing poses. Getting closer to the ground gives you more stability.
If comfort is your primary concern? Go thick. Mats range from 1/16- to 1/4-inch thickness, with the standard falling at 1/8-inch.
Because grip is important, most mats are made from ultra-grippy PVC. The more active your preferred yoga style, the more stick is gonna matter. But, hey—if you’re a devotee of yin yoga, or some other more meditative form, grip isn’t going to be a big deal.
PVC may still be the go-to materials, but plenty of sustainable options exist. Many of these use some combination of natural rubber and manmade materials. Others rely on cork or jute. Here you can find a detailed description of eco-friendly yoga mat choices, along with specific recommendations based on grip, eco-friendliness, durability, and more.
The snazz in us bows to the snazz in you.