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What Should I Consider When Buying a Yoga Mat?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Whether you’re buying a yoga mat for your first or hundredth yoga class, there are several things to consider. First and foremost, be certain that the mat you’re buying is for yoga and not for Pilates. The Pilates mat tends to be much thicker, although for some, depending upon how much time you spend doing floor poses, it may be a better choice. If you’re doing a lot of standing poses, a yoga mat will serve you better than one for Pilates.

If you’re new to yoga, you might consider buying a standard, inexpensive, sticky mat. They are available at most discount stores or anywhere that sells exercise equipment.

The next step up is a mat made of natural materials, and mid-price range mats of jute or cork are often a good choice. If you’re environmentally conscious about what you purchase, you may want to choose one of these two. Cork yoga mats may be difficult to find, and they do tend to degrade quickly. They’re not recommended since they don’t last long, deplete a natural resource, and tend to be expensive.

Jute mats can be lovely to use, and many like the way they feel. They provide good friction and are found in a variety of colors. You will note that the average jute mat tends to get a bit smelly after a while and should be cleaned fairly regularly.

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For many people, the only choice material when buying a yoga mat is rubber, which is comparable in price to jute. If you work out in crowded yoga classes, rubber may not be the best choice, however. Crowded classes may mean the occasional touching of mats, or people touching your mat, and rubber is a latex substance that can provoke significant and life threatening allergies for some people. If you have a latex allergy, you should definitely avoid a rubber mat, and if your mat is touching other people’s materials, it may be more responsible to work with a jute mat.

All yoga mats require cleaning to keep them in good shape. The inexpensive starter mats, though they are called sticky, may not be so sticky in the beginning. If you have a front-loading washing machine, and your mat states it can be washed in one, this is the easiest way to get it clean. Hang it dry instead of drying it in the dryer. Alternately, you can first condition a new mat with a vinegar and water solution and a soft brush. Some people suggest using window cleaner to remove spots, but if you are going for health here, the chemicals are not a good choice.

When you are buying a mat made of jute or latex, principal means of periodic cleaning is to soak the mat in a bathtub about a third full with cold water, and then use a sponge to scrub away dirt. You can also spray down a mat with extracts of tea tree, which help to naturally clean and disinfect it. There are many yoga mat wipes on the market, which you may prefer for occasional cleanings. Note that a jute mat will probably require the most frequent cleanings since it tends to pick up the most odor from frequent workouts.

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fify
Post 5

I do yoga on a regular basis and I've gone through three latex yoga mats in the last year. I'm wondering if I should be getting an eco yoga mat now because I'm hurting the environment. I've noticed that eco yoga mats are more expensive though and I'm afraid that I will go through the eco one much faster than the latex one.

I'm confused about what I should do. Has anyone used both latex and eco mats and can give me some feedback?

donasmrs
Post 4

@feruze-- You know, I don't think it matters that much. All yoga mats absorb sweat and odor is bound to be a problem after so many uses. I don't think the kind of yoga matters for this, you can't really prevent the yoga mat from smelling bad eventually.

I think it's better to get a cheap yoga mat that you can dispose of when the odor problem arises. Getting a brand new yoga mat is better than constantly washing old ones. Washing also wears out the mat.

bear78
Post 3

How important is odor as a factor when buying a yoga mat?

Is it better o get a mat that can be soaked and washed or one that is just meant to be wiped?

wander
Post 2

If you are buying a yoga mat, does anyone know if there is any danger of the color of the mat rubbing off on to the floor?

I have seen some really nice, bold yoga mats in striking colours like red and pink. I would like to get one for home use, but am a bit worried that it might stain my pale wood floors.

I tend to sweat during my yoga sessions, so while I have never had a problem with mats at the studio, I am cautious to buy one for my home.

lonelygod
Post 1

For those with allergies or who sweat during their yoga sessions buying a cotton mat is an environmentally friendly and safe choice.

These mats are completely natural and are easy to wash. You can put them in a cold-water wash in your laundry machine and they will come out like new. Just be cautious with top-loaders though, as the mechanics in the machine could damage the mats.

Also, some people have trouble with slipping on them, as they don't cling to the floor the way rubber mats do. A good tip is to carefully mist your mat with some water before you begin. This will give you a good grip and you will be practicing as they have for ages in India.

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