BY NICOLE SIACCA
MAY 25, 2016
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 14 years, so I’ve spent quite a few hours on different yoga mats. Although much of my practice is Vinyasa based, I’ve also studied Ashtanga, in addition to taking many hot yoga classes, as well, and my personal practice veers towards slow, sweaty and athletic. Below, an overview of my knowledge on yoga mats, including my personal opinions and findings; browse at your leisure and enjoy!
Are different types of mats better for certain practices?
Yes, indeed. If you have a sweaty practice, I would suggest Lululemon the Mat. It’s always a reliably sticky surface and can contend with buckets of sweat. If your practice is not neccessarily SUPER sweaty, I’d recommend a Manduka ProLite or Jade Harmony, (bonus: JadeYoga plants a tree for every mat purchased!).
What is the difference between the mat thickness options that are available?
Generally speaking, the thickness level of a mat varies from 1/16 to 1/4 of an inch. The thickness can play a role in stabilization. For example, trying to balance on a thick mat with a lot of cushion may strain the wrists and/or knees, which can lead to injury. A mat that is too thin may not provide enough cushion to hold postures that bear weight on a joint.
When someone is choosing a mat, which thickness level is the most ‘universal’?
Universally speaking, I’d go with 1/8th or 1/4th inch mat. It is very much about your body, your overall preference, and of course, comfort.
For people who travel often, is it worth investing in a lightweight mat in addition to their normal mat?
If you are a jet setter and want to take your mat with you on the road, it helps tremendously to find a light weight mat. I owned a Stella McCartney mat for Adidas that I used for years before I purchased a Lululemon travel mat. I find the Lululemon travel mat to be VERY lightweight with little to NO cushion at all. Again, preference is key.
And finally, my favorite mats in the following categories:
Green Mat: The Affirmat. I love this brand and the culture/message they’ve created. Every mat is 100% earth friendly. The affirmations are beautifully woven on the top of the mat. All mats are non toxic, eco PVC jute blend. They are pthalates free, latex free and metal free. My favorite affirmations are “I am Love, I am Enough and You are Wonderfully Made”.
Luxury Mat: The Manduka Black Mat Pro. This mat is heavy duty, extremely well made and durable. The Manduka products have been featured time and time again as the premier yoga mat on the market.
Budget Mat: Gaiam Print Premium Mat. You can find this mat for about $30 at many different retailers. It comes with a lifetime warranty and in various colors and prints.
Best Overall Mat: Lululemon “the Mat”. As much as I sweat, I find this mat to be the best overall. The more sweaty/wet the mat becomes, the better it works. Another wonderful quality about this mat is that it is heavy and gives just the right amount of cushion while allowing for a sense of grounding. I recommend this mat to all my personal clients because I have found it to fit and surpass my needs.
Off The Wall Mat: Alexander Wang for H&M [pictured above]. This is my wildcard mat. I was working with a lovely Thai actress, and she walked in with a brand new mat I’d never seen before. It was black with the AW emblem all over it and remarkably sticky, super lightweight and provided the perfect amount of cushion. I was obsessed with it. Before she left to fly back to Thailand, she gave me her mat- greatest surprise gift ever!- and I use it almost daily. I have yet to find another and I’m working on letting go of my “attachment” to this fabulous yoga “gift”.