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24th Jan 2012 - How to Choose the Best Yoga Mat (Part 2 of 2)

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(Continued from Part 1 here)

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4. Texture and Stickiness

Well, texture and stickiness are two sides of the same coin. They serve a similar purpose of keeping you from sliding and slipping all over the mat while doing poses such as the Downward Dog. The difference between the two qualities is that texture may result from the property of the material itself or by creating patterns on the surface of the mat that act like physical barriers to slipping, whereas, stickiness is a result of suction quality that may occur when a vacuum occurs between the surface of your hand/feet and the surface of the yoga mat.

Usually textured surfaces are found in mats made of jute, rubber, cotton etc. Sticky mats are usually made of PVC, TPE or similar materials (they may be made from other materials as well). When making a decision which mat to purchase, you should also consider that Yoga includes a wide variety of motions and poses. So one the one hand, a textured surface may provide superior grip even when you are dripping in sweat, but on the other hand, if the texture is too rough to the feel, it may also prove uncomfortable in some of the restorative poses. Some companies are now producing double sided mats to tackle this issue.

Similarly, sticky mats may be smoother to the feel but may require frequent cleaning as such mats are only sticky when they are clean.

5. Eco and health-friendliness

This is an important consideration for many yogis/yoginis these days. Practice of yoga goes along with a certain set of values and taking care of the environment and planet is one of those values that yoga enthusiasts care about. There may be multiple aspects to eco-friendliness. First may be the level of waste and pollution that is produce during the production cycle of the product. Second may be the level of recyclability of a yoga may after its usable lifecycle. In general, yoga mats made from natural materials such as rubber, jute, and cotton fair much better in terms of their level of eco-friendliness than synthetic materials such as PVC.

There are also some health concerns related to certain chemicals and compounds (e.g. phthalates, dyes) that may be used during the manufacturing phase of a yoga mat, especially synthetic mats made from PVC etc. People who are allergic to latex should also ensure that the rubber mat is free from latex. Usually latex-free mats are made from recycled rubber.

6. Price

Last but not least, we can’t ignore the price of a yoga mat. If you are a beginner in the Yoga world, you may wish to start out with a lower cost yoga mat just to get a better feel of the practice of Yoga itself. Once you are more experienced and are better aware of which yoga style suits you best, you may go on to buy a more expensive and reliable mat for long-term use. Usually, synthetic mats made from PVC are in the lower price range, whereas, eco-friendly mats may be towards the higher price range.

Happy Yoga Mat hunting!