Created on: December 19, 2012 Last Updated: December 23, 2012
When it comes to choosing a yoga mat, there are actually more variables in selecting than just your average off-the-rack kind of mat. The right yoga mat must be functional, practical, giving you comfort and ease of movement when you are doing asanas (yoga poses). Most department or sporting goods stores carry standard yoga mats, but if you want something a step above the average, you may want to shop in a yoga studio that offers accessories, or a yoga specialty store.
Many commonly sold yoga mats are made from either plastic, rubber, latex, PVC. Some of these materials give off toxic fumes: To be more eco-friendly, you may want to choose a mat made of natural materials. If your yoga mat doesn't come with a label, you can purchase one with packaging that does have a label in order to see if it is PVC-free. Materials derived from jute or rubber are natural plant-based sources, rather than made with synthetic chemicals. Obviously, if you buy from a specialty store, it is likely you will be paying more for your yoga mat.
Yoga mats do not all come with a standard thickness. For comfort, a mat should be thick enough to cushion your feet, knees, hands, and wrists while doing static poses. Whereas a standard yoga mat is approximately 1/8" in thickness, there are thicker types. Look for dimensions when choosing the correct size for you. Anyone with joint issues should benefit from a thicker mat.
However, there is a downside to a thicker mat, as it can prevent a smooth flow of movement between yoga poses.
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