Best Yoga Mats
Is getting fit and healthy one of your 2021 goals? If you decide to pick up yoga and think that any yoga mat will do, pls read on before you start. As the saying goes, good tools are prerequisite to the success of a job. A good yoga mat to a yoga practitioner is just as important as a good knife to a chef. It makes all the difference to the way you practise, physically and mentally.
Here is my collection of Yoga Mats
The 3 Things That Matter
Yoga is about mind and body connection. When you practise, you want to be able to stay focused and be able to connect your mind with your body and your breath. This is where a good yoga mat comes in – you want the mat to do its job supporting you so that you can focus on nothing else other than your own practice.
As a yoga practitioner for some 40 years, I have gone through my fair share of mats. There are 3 things that I look for in a mat:
- Anti-slip surface or a sticky mat. It is always the number 1 priority for me. You need a surface that can remain grippy even when you sweat. Imagine you are gliding everywhere on the mat. Not only that you may be prone to injury, you will also find it hard to concentrate. When that happens, you will lose focus and/or even get frustrated, ruining the peace that you try so hard to cultivate from your practice.
- Support. A good mat will support your spine when you are sitting on your seat bones or doing supine poses (lying on your back). When a mat is too thin, you may feel your own weight pressing down on the vertebrae (the bony structure along your back) – not unlike sleeping on marble floor. Not only that it is super uncomfortable, you may also end up injuring your back. At the same time, you don’t want the mat to be too thick. Otherwise you will find it hard to stand on or balance. While we are all structured differently, I personally prefer a 5mm mat for my bony spine. But most would agree that 4.0+mm may suffice.
- Weight. You also want a mat that is heavy enough that it stays firmly on the ground when you move. Even though a lighter mat is more portable to carry around, the benefit of a heavier mat that grounds you outweighs (literally) the benefit of the trade-off.
My Favourite Mat
There are so many yoga mat manufacturers out there that we are totally spoiled for choice. Some of the more popular ones include Decathlon, Alo, Lululemon, Manduka and Liforme. Since most of these brands have manufactured various mats, instead of comparing any particular model, I will share with you my most favorite mat and why!
You will find most of these prominent mats offer similar features – extra long (185cm), extra wide (68cm), good support (4mm to 6mm) and non-slip surface. I have used various mats ranging from $10 to over $250. Even though price tags do not necessarily warrant the quality of a mat, I do struggle to find a mat under $60 that meets my criteria. One thing that is absolutely true is that once you have found a mat that works for you, there is no going back. On average, I buy 2 new mats a year. I admit, I am just vain and greedy. More than often, I can’t help succumb to the temptation of new color or design. But it is also true that the mat surface is most grippy when it is brand new.
Among all the mats that I have tried, I have to say I love Liforme mats the most. I love the way it grips. It can totally live up to the name of a ‘sticky’ mat – I feel like a gecko on the mat. The surface also absorbs sweat well so I never have to worry about slipping even when I am dripping. However Liforme mats only come in 4.2mm thickness and weighs 2.6kg (except for their travel mats which are even thinner – 2mm). The tradeoff of the 0.5kg (a 5mm natural rubber mat of the same size usually weighs about 3.1kg) is mostly welcome, especially when I have to carry my mat around going from one class to another on foot or by public transportation.
The added benefit of a Liforme mat is its alignment system. I usually prefer the design of my mat clean and simple but the alignment lines are very useful. They help me find my center and also are great for alignment cues. I love their Happiness Yoga Mat and White Magic Yoga Mat.
What About Cost?
Any of the 4+mm premium mats that I mentioned above easily cost over $100. If you are a regular practitioner, the cost is well justified. But it may not be a cheap investment for beginners. That being said, I would still strongly advise against the $10+ mats you get from Watson. Or any inexpensive so-called Pilates mats. Please note that the mat requirements for Pilates are different even though in beginners’ eyes, Pilates and yoga may seem to be close enough to be cousins. If you are not quite ready to splurge on yourself yet, it is worth checking out the 3mm or 5mm natural rubber yoga mats from Decathlon. They are priced at $50 and $60 respectively, which is good value for money for beginners.
Anything Else I Need?
There are other toys that you may be interested to add to your yoga starter kit. I will savor that for the next article. Stay tuned!
This article has not been sponsored by any brand. Products were independently selected by the author based on her experience. You can find more about Grace on – ForeverNow Online. She offers free 60 mins trial for all new members