Yoga is an excellent exercise routine that helps to increase strength, stamina, and flexibility and promotes overall mind and body health. It also takes very little to get started with yoga, but a yoga mat is an essential item.
Yoga mats are available in a few different sizes, and it’s a good idea to choose one that suits you so as to make your yoga experience enjoyable right from the start.
What size yoga may do I need?
Almost all yoga mats are 24 inches wide. This is usually plenty of width, even for bigger people. It offers enough room to maneuver or turn to the side with a few inches to spare. Wider mats are available, but that extra width is almost always unnecessary.
A standard yoga mat is 68 inches long, but 72 inches is another common size. Extra-long mats with a length of 80 or 84 inches are also available. When you’re selecting a yoga mat, a good rule of thumb is to pick a mat that’s 3 inches longer than you are tall.
This helps to ensure that neither your head nor your feet will hang off the mat when you lie down, which not only makes floor exercises more comfortable but can also be crucial for performing some moves correctly.
For most people, a standard size of either 68 or 72 inches will work very well. If you’re over 6 feet tall, however, you might want to go with a longer yoga mat. In fact, longer yoga mats can be used by anyone who feels they’d like a bit more room.
The only thing to remember is that a longer yoga mat can be harder to fit into a small space, and this can make things challenging if you’re taking a class with several other people.
How thick should my yoga mat be?
Almost all yoga mats are between 4 and 6 millimeters thick. Anything thicker than this is not really a yoga mat but is instead a gym workout mat. Thick mats might sound like a nice idea, but they can make balancing or stretching difficult, as stability is more important for these moves than padding.
People who spend most of their yoga practice upright or working on more challenging poses or balances often prefer a yoga mat that has a thickness closer to 4 millimeters. A thin mat offers more stability.
People who are doing more seated or lying down poses might want to opt for a mat closer to 6 millimeters, as stability isn’t as important for these poses, and the mat’s thickness will give a little extra cushioning.
Yoga Mat Materials
Yoga mats can be made from a variety of materials. Rubber mats are the most popular. Mats made of PVC are often the least expensive, but they don’t tend to last as long, and they can have harmful chemicals in them.
Instead, natural rubber mats are generally preferred, particularly if the rubber is harvested sustainably. These mats use rubber made from rubber trees. Natural rubber mats are durable and offer excellent grip.
They also have antimicrobial properties, so they may not develop smells as quickly as a PVC mat would.
Jute mats are another popular choice, as they are largely made of sustainable, natural materials. Jute mats have one side that’s covered in either PVC or polymer environmentally friendly resin, also called PER.
PER is a better choice environmentally than PVC, and it’s also lacking some of the harmful chemicals PVC can contain.
Cork yoga mats are very environmentally friendly, as harvesting cork doesn’t harm the cork tree. Like jute mats, cork mats are often coated in natural rubber or another rubber material to make at least one side non-slip.
Cotton and hemp are two other natural materials that are frequently used to make mats. Be sure to choose mats that are made of organic cotton, as inorganic cotton farming can be harmful to the environment.
Cotton and hemp mats, like jute and cork mats, have one side that’s coated in another material to give it a non-slip surface.
TPE is another popular yoga mat material. TPE, or thermoplastic elastomers, is a blend of polymers that are easy to mold. TPE is more environmentally friendly than PVC, as it doesn’t cause as much pollution, but it can’t be recycled.
TPE mats are generally less expensive than other natural material mats, and they’re easy to clean. TPE is also often used to coat one side of a jute, cork, hemp, or cotton mat.
Ethylene-vinyl, or EVA, is also sometimes used to make yoga mats. This is a very durable synthetic rubber material that isn’t prone to cracking and is very easy to clean. It’s often used to make flip-flops and gym mats.
EVA mats are a bit thicker than normal yoga mats, but they may flatten out or stretch after repeated use.