How To Choose Your Suitable Yoga Mat 2

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Apart from materials explained in the first installment, this article will focus on the other dimensions such as size, grip and yoga types.

Different thicknesses of yoga mats

What size yoga mat is right for you?

Yoga Mat width is usually around 61-80cm (24-32inch), and the length has two choice ranges – around 173cm and 185cm (68-72inch). The basic principle is that the length of a yoga mat should not be shorter than your height and the width should not be narrower than your shoulder width. As for the thickness, it is another central factor in choosing a yoga mat in addition to the material. With such a wide variation from 1.5mm to 10mm, the key to the rationale behind different thickness designs is the consideration of both Comfort and Stability.

On one hand, the thicker the mat, the better cushioning effect for the joints and the palms of the hands and feet, meanwhile making the movements more comfortable. On the other hand, it will make it difficult for you to perceive the ground, and lead to lose stability, especially for standing poses. Just like the bed we usually sleep on will be very soft and comfortable, but if you stand on one leg on the bed, it will be difficult to balance, let alone perform asanas.

To sum up, different thicknesses should be chosen for different training stages:

1. Beginner – A medium thickness of 6-8mm is recommended to make the process of learning yoga more enjoyable for the first time.

2. Advanced – Recommended 3-6mm (which is also the most common thickness on the market today), for gradual adaptation.

3. Senior – Use a 1.5-3mm thin mat to fully perceive the ground and keep the movements stable.

Note: Some gyms have 10-13mm mats mainly for stretching training and abdominal exercises,in considerationof the cushion for the back, and reducing the pressure on the spinal joints during these movements. Also for practitioners with thin bodies, who has the less fatty muscle and other soft tissues, thus it is recommended to choose a yoga mat of 6mm or more to improve soft cushioning.

Is the bigger the surface grip of the yoga mat, the better?

colorful yoga mats

Although a smooth yoga mat surface can be more comfortable against the skin, we can easily slip on the mat and lose balance if not slip resistance. We tend to think that the stickier the mat and the gripper the surface, then the more slip-resistant it is. But the ‘high grip’ we are looking for is not practical enough for most people. Instead, we should be looking for the balance between grip and freedom of movement. In other words,yoga mats are not the more non-slip the better, an overly non-slip mat can affect the control of your movements and in turn hinder your yoga practice. For example, transitioning from a high lunge to a Warriorǁ pose requires a weaker grip, while doing a jumping movement (such as a handstand) requires a slightly greater one.

Tips: Professional advice on how to test a yoga mat for slip resistance is as follows.

Lay the mat flat, press the mat hard with the palm of your hand and then push forward. If the mat slides on the ground or your hand slides on the mat, it means that the mat is not very slip resistant and it is easy to slip and fall when doing exercises on it. Don’t choose it! Lightly push the surface of the mat with the palm of your hand to have appropriate friction force and a sense of resistance for good.

the best tpe yoga knee pads

The surface texture of a yoga mat is an important part of the anti-slip effect of a yoga mat. Different textures of anti-slip effect also differ. General texture can be divided into leaf patterns, bumpy dot patterns, textile patterns, serrated patterns, horizontal line patterns, etc. according to the various material characteristics.

First of all, suede mat, a textured surface with a textile texture (actually it is textile), is best for slip resistance. This is because textiles are absorbent and breathable, and also have a high coefficient of friction with the skin. The next is the TPE yoga mat represented by leaf patterns and serrated patterns, which is also designed to imitate the texture of the textile surface, so the anti-slip effect is also good. However, The PVC yoga mats are less malleable and can only be designed as a bumpy dot pattern surface with a relatively poor anti-slip effect. In addition, not only between the user and the yoga mat need to be non-slip, but also pay attention to the non-slip between the yoga mat and the ground. A yoga mat with a patterned base will have a better anti-slip effect. Overall, material, surface texture, and sweat all combine to influence the slip resistance.

How to choose a mat for your type of yoga?

Different types of yoga have different requirements for yoga mats. Here are the considerations corresponding to each type of yoga when choosing a mat.

Hatha Yoga covers a range of poses. Typically, Hatha Yoga is more of a beginner’s class, with no specific mat requirements. Beginners can learn various fundamentals such as basic postures, breathing, relaxation, and meditation. It is recommended that when you first start practicing, it is okay to practice on an EVA or PVC mat until you know exactly which advanced type you want to practice.

Ashtanga yoga is considered to be the modern embodiment of ancient classical Indian yoga, also often referred to as power yoga. This rigorous style of yoga requires a mat with a good grip. Natural rubber and TPE yoga mats are recommended to prevent slipping even when sweating. Yoga towels can also be used to increase slip resistance.

Vinyasa Yoga is derived from Hatha Yoga but with some differences. It focuses more on rhythm and flow. The faster-paced Vinyasa allows you to work through one asana after another. In this genre, it is important to practice asanas fluidly. It is recommended to use a slightly smoother mat, such as a PU laminated yoga mat or a cork laminated yoga mat.

Iyengar emphasizes alignment and balance, thus there is no need to have a thicker mat with an improved cushioning effect. It is recommended that a 1mm-3mm mat is fine. Also, it would be helpful if the mat had an alignment system.

Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga are very similar styles. Each type of yoga is performed in a room heated to a high temperature. There will be a lot of sweating, so a combination of suede rubber mats or yoga mats combined with a towel is highly recommended.

Yin yoga (aka Restorative)

When practicing yin yoga, you won’t be doing continuous yoga poses, instead, each pose has to be maintained for three to five minutes to stimulate the deep muscles. If the mat is thin, your joints will be very uncomfortable. Therefore, it is recommended to choose a mat of 5mm or more, such as a TPE and PVC yoga mat.

The other dimensions will be covered in the next installment.

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