You may spend hours each week perfecting your Sun Salutations or practicing Crow Pose, but do you ever stop to think about what's keeping you grounded? Choosing the right yoga mat and caring for it correctly can significantly impact your practice. Here are my top tips for finding a great mat.
Many studios or gyms offer yoga mats that you can borrow or rent, which is a good option if you're on a budget. But if you're really serious about practicing yoga, purchasing your own mat is a good investment for a couple reasons. First, you don't know how often the community mats are getting washed. And second, energy is moved in a yoga class, and you don't want to be practicing on the same mat as someone who had a lot of clearing to do. I know this may sound "new-agey," but you want the energy of your mat to be clean.
Regardless, purchasing your own yoga mat is a sign of a disciplined yogi, and you will be more compelled to practice if you know you worked hard to pay for your mat.
I'm a fan of Manduka mats. They arent cheap they'll cost you anywhere from $42 to $85 but they will last forever. I prefer the black ones (the heaviest and most durable) but the company also carries a lighter travel version. If you're considering their eco-friendly mat, know that it's not great for strong vinyasa classes it's almost too sticky!
Aside from Manduka, most sticky mats are all the same quality. My advice? Find one with a cute pattern that compels you to practice. You should be able to find one for between $25 and $45.
Some people find that they still slip even on a good sticky mat. If this is the case, you might consider buying an Indian-made "ashtanga rug" (ask your local yoga studio about where to purchase one). I also recommend getting a Skidless from Yogitoes. Similar to a towel with grips on the underside, the Skidless sits on top of your mat and prevents you from sliding around. This works for even my sweatiest, most slippery students.
Depending on the amount that you sweat, wash your mat after every couple of uses. You can either wipe it down with something organic (such as tea-tree oil) or throw it in the washing machine. Just make sure to take it out before the spin cycle!
Yoga mats do not go in the dryer, so allow 24 to 48 hours for the mat to dry. If you practice yoga daily, you may want to own more than one mat so you aren't stuck with one that's semi-dry.