When starting a yoga practice you will find that the mat you practice on will have just a big of an impact as your actual practice. There are so many yoga mats for beginners out there that it can be confusing as to which mat is going to be best for you to start with. Depending on your specific needs and preferences, the yoga mat that works for someone else might not work for you.
Finding The Best Yoga Mats For Beginners
The reason your yoga mat is so important is because it is going to determine how comfortable you are in kneeling poses, how balanced you are in standing poses, and whether or not you are slipping and sliding all over the place if you sweat a lot. In order to find the best yoga mat for you it is important to consider the thickness, material, and texture of the mat so you can focus on your practice and not what’s going on under your feet.
Check out a couple of my recommendations here or keep reading to find the perfect combination of features that are going to work best for your practice.
Most yoga mats range from 1/16 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch thick. The thicker your yoga mat, and in turn squishier, the less footing you are going to be able to have in poses that require you to balance. You might favor comfort over balance in the beginning but as you advance on to more difficult poses a thinner mat will allow you to feel the ground better and keep your postures stable.
The mat that I currently use is 3/16 of an inch thick and feels very firm on the ground. I’ve practiced with thicker mats but I’ve found that it is hard to maintain my balance on a thicker mat when in balancing postures.
The type of material that your mat is made out of is going to determine how much give it has when you step on it, how long it will last, and how friendly it is to the environment and certain allergies. Most yoga mats are made out of vinyl which is going to last the longest and have the most give but are also made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is the most toxic type of plastic. Another thing to consider is if you have an allergy to latex then a rubber mat would be out of the question and a more organic type of mat would suit you best.
The texture of your yoga mat will play an important part in how well your feet stay planted on the ground when sweat starts building up underneath you. Keeping good traction during your practice is crucial to staying focused in the postures as well as being able to get deep into certain poses. Yoga mats with a rougher texture will provide for better traction but might lack comfort while a smoother texture might provide comfort but no traction.
I’ve personally tried a few different types of PVC mats that claim to be sticky to provide traction but end up making me slip worse than ever when I sweat. Even if there are manufactured bumps or grooves on the mat to provide extra grip, I’ve found the overall traction is determined by how rough or smooth the actual mat is. Jute or cotton mats are good if you are looking for both comfort and traction and can be a great option for beginners.
Keep Coming Back To Your Mat
Making sure that you are comfortable on your mat and able to focus on how your body is moving rather than what’s going on under you will allow you to get the most out of your practice. Once you get your mat situated to how you like it you will be able to better clear your mind from irritations that can stem from an uncomfortable practice.
No matter which yoga mat you decide to purchase the only thing that will allow you to reach your health goals – whether to lose weight, get rid of aches and pains, or just start living a more active lifestyle – is always coming back to your mat to practice. Beginning and sticking with a yoga routine can be difficult because of all the new positions that your body is going to be challenged with but it is necessary in order to find relief from whatever you are looking for relief from.
Starting a regular yoga practice is going to be one of the best ways to dedicate yourself to your practice and start making it a habit that you can’t imagine how you ever lived without.
Stick With It!