How to choose your yoga mat?

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Your yoga mat is a place, not an object

The first thing that hit me when I decided I would write about choosing yoga accessories was that my yoga mat is not an accessory. My mat, with its human-sized space is a shelter. I come here to calm down, battle with internal and external obstacles, to relax, become stronger. What I learn here I take with me everywhere. Now let’s find your place, your mat where you can experience all this.

How to choose a yoga mat?

We have different bodies, demands and practices. How can I help you, unknown to me? I will give you questions to ask yourself while choosing. I also give you some guidance where to start looking based on your answers.

Let’s see the basic aspects.


What to ask yourself:

Do I have sensitive joints?

Do you often do balancing poses where leg support is important or is your practice restorative, close to the ground?

How much space do you have at home for your mat?

Do you often take your mat with you on the go?

If you have sensitive joints a thin mat (1-3 mm) can be uncomfortable for your knees and ankles. On the other hand these mats occupy little space, are light and maybe fit into your suitcase when your travel.

On the other end of the spectrum are extremely thick mats (10mm and more). If your practice is restorative and close to the ground and you often use your mat only for meditation then thick mats can work for you. However if balancing poses are your thing then be mindful that it can be difficult to do poses on thick mats where you stand on one leg. Not surprisingly thick mats occupy more space in your home and can be tricky to carry with you on the go.

Do you practice multiple styles of yoga? Most of us use 4-6mm thick mats. These are both comfortably soft and let you keep your connection to the ground. They won’t fit into your suitcase but you won’t have trouble taking them with you to the studio.


What to ask yourself:

Do I enjoy if my mat has a texture or do I prefer if it is smooth?

How important is grip for me?

How important is choosing an eco-friendly mat for me?

Most entry level yoga mats are made from PVC. These mostly have a smooth surface, are light and durable, on the other hand they are not really eco-friendly. These are often the cheaper options, during whose fabrication and usage toxic substances may be released. Check this with the manufacturer before buying. Regarding grip you will encounter anything between resembling an ice-skate rink and super-dry glue.

An eco-friendly alternative to PVC is natural rubber (if you are latex-sensitive then avoid this), organic cotton, jute and corkwood. Grip is highly important if you prefer dynamic practices or you tend to sweat. For me natural rubber worked best from the eco-friendly mats. These may have a bit of a “rubber-ish smell” which disappears after a few usages.

With corkwood, cotton and jute mats the grip comes from their natural texture. I personally love the touch of natural materials, they bring warmth and comfort into my practice. If possible, touch and try out the mat before buying it.


What to ask yourself:

What’s my height?

How often do I carry my mat with me?

Ideally you should fit comfortably on your mat in savasana (lying on your back, your arms and legs stretched out). Most standard mats are 185cm in length but don’t worry if you are taller as most manufacturers have mats in bigger size.

The material and size define your mat’s weight so if you carry it with you often then take this into consideration. Again thickness is a factor here and a thicker mat occupies more space even if rolled up.


What to ask yourself:

How often do I practice?

How specific are my expectations?

The price of yoga mats ranges from a few thousand Forints to super expensive luxury category. The more specific demands your demands the more expensive your mat will be. If you regularly practice yoga then it’s worth investing in a good quality mat which can serve you for many years. Consider a mat for 20000 Forints which you use twice a week for 5 years then a practice will come down to only 40 Forints.

Environmental factor

What to ask yourself:

Is sustainability important for me?

The ecological footprint of PVC mattresses is the biggest. There are many natural alternatives from corkwood to natural rubber and a lot of manufacturers do even more for the environment.

Me and my yoga mats

My story began with a mat I bought at Decathlon for 3000 Forints which I used until in tore. It lasted for years and I travelled the world with it. I believe your mar is an important part of your practice but what really counts is your practice itself. In the sand at the beach, on the carpet in your living room, in your terrace.

You need to know that he proper mat can really add to your yoga experience. Safety, comfort and stability. A space that is yours. I practice yoga professionally so I use three mats regularly. 

Yoganic Corkwood Mat

Made from natural materials, a perfect 5mm thick (for me), takes up a small space and they plant trees from 10% of the profit. 

I also like the signs on the mat which help me easily recognize if I’m asymmetric in a pose and correct myself. The mat elicits a warm and peaceful atmosphere, it’s my shelter for my slow evening practices and my daily meditations.

Black Moon Phase Mat

Beautiful, powerful design, made from natural rubber with a strong grip from day 1. When I go for an exhausting practice this mat is my choice.

Manduka Eko Superlite Yogamat

My faithful partner during my many travels. It occupies no mor space than a jumper, it’s lightweight, has a great grip and is my trusted friend only 1.5 mm thin. Although I need a thicker mat for my daily practice but this one is unbeatable for travelling. What amazes me is that after a lot of usage in extreme locations (rocky beach, desert, concrete rooftop, gravel) it shows no signs of wear.


How to choose your yoga mat?