When you begin your yoga practice, there are very few things you really need, and many things that are optional. The most important item you need for a safe, enjoyable practice is a good yoga mat. Your mat should be “sticky” – meaning that your hands and feet should not slide on it, durable, and the right size for your body. Most mats that you purchase at big box stores are low priced but don’t provide adequate stickiness or a variety of sizes. A good mat is a smart investment and will allow you to enjoy your practice now and for years to come.
There are companies that specialize in making great quality yoga mats. Their mats are generally eco-friendly and made of natural products such as rubber. When searching for mats, remember that a high price tag does not necessarily mean a great mat. Search for mats that have consistent high ratings and read the consumer reviews. If you are a member of a yoga studio, ask your teachers or fellow students for recommendations. Some studios that sell mats may even allow you to try before you buy. Do your research – you will be glad you did.
Once you purchase your mat, be sure to read the instructions for care and storage. Most mats should not be left in a hot car. They should be washed with a cleaning product designed for yoga mats. There are also homemade recipes for yoga mat cleaners. My favorite recipe is one that uses distilled water, witch hazel, and lavender and tea tree oil. See the recipe below!
Yoga mats also come in a variety of colors and sizes. Although you may be tempted to purchase a “pretty” mat, make sure it also has the qualities of stickiness and wearability. “Pretty” won’t prevent your hands from sliding in Downward Facing Dog. A plainer, quality mat will.
If you are a tall person, look for mats that are longer. A typical yoga mat is 68” long. You may enjoy the extra length of a 71”, 74” or even 80” mat if you’re really tall. Most yoga mats are 24” wide, but again, you may like a 26” or 28” wide mat whether you are tall or not. Your mat is your playground – buy one that truly gives you space to play!
Two mat suppliers I highly recommend are Manduka and Jade. I’ve used mats made by both companies and they give you the full package of stickiness, durability, and a variety of colors and sizes from which to choose. PLUS they are eco-friendly! Prices range from around $60.00-$150.00. Remember…your yoga mat MATters! It’s an investment that will you will appreciate every time you practice.
Mat Cleaner Recipe
- 1 cup distilled water
- ½ cup alcohol-free witch hazel
- 10-15 drops of a GOOD quality lavender oil (I use doTERRA)
- 15-20 drops of a GOOD quality tea tree oil (same!)
Mix all in a glass spray bottle. Mist your mat, wipe with a clean cloth, and let it dry completely before rolling up.
Author: Mrs Lori Redlinger, Yoga Provider