There are many different types of yoga mat so it's not usually too difficult to find one that suits your needs and budget. - we provide plenty of information below to help you find the mat that's right for you.
Years ago there were far fewer choices of mats when it came to size, colour, material, thickness and design - but things have changed now and yoga enthusiasts are really spoilt for choice.
It's worth doing a bit of research before buying a yoga mat - it's usually helpful to look at reviews of previous buyers of a particular mat you are interested in.
You should consider a few key questions before choosing a mat - for example, what type of yoga are you practising? Thicker mats are better suited to some styles of yoga. Do you practise yoga enough to warrant paying big bucks for an expensive deluxe mat, or will a basic and cheap mat be more than adequate for your needs? Do you want a mat made from environmentally-friendly materials? These are more eco-friendly but some of them will break down and wear out much more quickly than mats which are not so friendly!
You should bear in mind that price does not always determine quality. Some inexpensive yoga mats are much more durable and better than more expensive mats. It is all dependent on type and quality of the individual mat.
It's important to buy the type of mat that meets your overall needs so you can really get the best out of your yoga experience - in full comfort. It's also crucial to have a mat which is safe and won't slip otherwise you run the risk of injuring yourself during your routine.
The more content you are with your yoga mat, the more relaxed and comfortable you will feel - meaning your routine will ultimately be more fulfilling and rewarding.
Let's take a look at a few of the most popular types of yoga mat available to buy.
STICKY FOAM YOGA MAT: The classic sticky foam mat is perhaps the most common style found in homes, health clubs, gyms and yoga studios across the UK. These mats are fairly cheap to buy and have an excellent reputation for being slip-proof, meaning they are safe for doing a range of complex yoga poses. They are made of durable foam, which is provide very comfortable cushioning for your body, and feature a high-tack surface which increases their stickiness.
ECO YOGA MAT: Eco-friendly yoga mats have become more and more popular in recent years as many of us become committed to doing what we can to protect the world around us. Eco yoga mats are made from materials that are more environmentally friendly including hemp, nitrile rubber, TPE foam, PVC-free latex and biodegradable natural tree rubber. There are no toxic materials used in these mats which are still very much designed to provide the highest level of comfort and support. The Plastic Elastomer type of mat discussed below is also eco-friendly.
NATURAL RUBBER YOGA MAT: This type of mat is made of made of open cell, natural rubber material and falls into the eco-friendly category. They provide excellent traction, even when damp or wet due to perspiration and have greater thickness, density and durability than many more basic mats. These mats work well for yoga practices that are more vigorous and cause more sweating. Natural rubber is a renewable resource and this type of mat is completely biodegradable. If you purchase one of these mats you will be doing your bit to help protect and save our environment.
THERMO PLASTIC ELASTOMER YOGA MAT: This innovative design of mat does not contain PVC, latex and any other toxic materials, qualifying it for the eco-friendly category. These mats are slip-resistant, water-repellent, odourless, cold-resistant and offer excellent traction. They are available in a range of colours including sky blue, brown, yellow, green, brown, black, white, pink and purple.
TRAVEL YOGA MAT: A travel mat is the perfect solution for a yogi or yogini on the go! If you want to be able to practice your routines when you are away on a business trip or a holiday, then a travel mat is what you need. These mats can fold or roll up to a very compact size, making them easy to fit in a suitcase, travel bag or holdall. Many manufacturers have started producing range of smaller, thinner, lighter products to meet the demand for travel mats. This type of mat is are normally very light in weight and often made of cotton, which is excellent at soaking up sweat, thereby reducing the risk of slipping or falling. Other travel mats are made of natural tree rubber which offer excellent grip and are kind to the environment. A downside of travel mats is that because they are usually quite thin they can be quite uncomfortable to kneel on and can bunch up under your feet.
ORGANIC COTTON YOGA MAT: These mats have a comforting soft texture and absorb sweat easily. They are very easy to clean and are normally suitable for machine washing. They may not last as long as some other types of yoga mat because cotton fibres will break down and wear out more quickly. This type of mat is often user by those practising Bikram, Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga which can result in a considerable amount of sweating. Cotton yoga rugs are also a popular product. A cotton yoga mat supports virtually all yoga positions. Another benefit of this type of mat is that it will not retain any allergens or irritate your skin.
BAMBOO YOGA MAT: It would be easy to imagine a bamboo mat would have a hard texture - but quite the opposite is true. These mats have a comforting towel-like quality and a soft micro fibre surface. They are very absorbent and anti-slip. The wetter the surface, the more absorbent these mats become making them great for those who practice hot yoga or Ashtanga yoga, for example. Bamboo mats are biodegradable, machine washable and lightweight, making them a great choice for a travel yoga mat. A good quality bamboo mat will cost around £20 to £30.
CORK YOGA MAT: Many yogis have been converts to this type of mat which has superb anti-slip qualities and contains no PVC or harmful chemicals. Cork mats are eco-friendly and designed to offer optimal grip. Their soft texture makes them feel great under your knees, hands and feet. These mats are made from a renewable resource, in that the cork is harvested by stripping the bark of trees, which re-grows again naturally - there is no cutting down of the tree. The trees that provide cork are found in various countries including Spain, Italy, Morocco, Portugal and France.
JUTE YOGA MAT: These mats look and feel very impressive - their natural jute fibres make them more eye-catching that many other bland-looking mats. Jute is a natural vegetable plant and a sustainable resource. These mats are thin and lightweight, making them ideal for use as a travel yoga mat, but means they won't offer as much padding as some yoga enthusiasts would like to protect they bony knees and elbows! There are, however, some jute mats which have a bonded pure rubber underside which gets round this problem. It's also worth knowing that some brands of jute mat do not appear to have the same desirable level of stickiness as certain other types of mat.
ORGANIC HEMP: This type of mat is made of weaved hemp yarns which are very durable and hard-wearing. They have an impressive high level of elasticity and considerable tensile strength. Hemp mats are also highly regarded for their warmth and water-absorbency qualities. These mats should be washed carefully using a mild detergent.
YOGA MATS FOR CHILDREN: There are plenty of yoga mats that are specially designed for children. As you would expect these mats are smaller and have a high tack surface which offers a greater traction and slip resistance. Kids' mats also have a soft texture and deep cushioning that makes it easier for little hands and feet to grip the mat and remain firm. Children's mats are designed to be easy for young boys and girls to handle and manage. These mats are smaller than adult mats but they are still large enough to enable children to continue using them for a few years as they grow.
EXTRA LONG YOGA MAT: There are several extra large mats available which are designed for tall yoga students who require additional mat space and want to avoid having to cross over to the floor during their work outs. A typical size for an extra long mat is 30 inches x 78 inches, Some are available with the extra length but still maintain the standard width of 24 inches.. These mats are very durable, often made of natural rubber and offer an impressive level of stickiness. If you are tall, an extra long mat will allow you to avoid having to practice off the mat on a hard floor. The extra length will provide all the additional space you require to stretch, bend and reach as wide and far as you wish.