Which yoga mat is best for starting out? If you are new to yoga, you have maybe only experienced yoga mats that have been borrowed from your local yoga studio. Borrowing a mat before you go to the expense of your own mat is ideal if you are just starting out with yoga. But once you’ve been to a few classes, you will likely fall in love with the happy endorphins that yoga rewards you with and you may want to develop your own regular practice. It is then that you might want to consider purchasing your own mat.
There are so many yoga mats to choose from these days Should you just buy one of the cheaper mats? Surely they must all do the same job; they provide a non slip surface for you practice yoga on? This is not necessarily true, some yoga mats provide more traction (grip) than others, some are actually not very non-slip at all. The used grubby yoga studio mat (that is probably not very pretty and possibly a little smelly), is actually very grippy and your hands and feet stay put during poses. It is only when you purchase your own mat that you may find your hands and feet sliding in opposite directions during downward facing dog. Yikes! It’s a horrible feeling for any yogi, but especially a new yogi who is just learning all the poses! A slippy mat makes all the poses even more difficult! Not what you need at all!
The reason that yoga studio mats tend to be so grippy, is that they have been very well used so they are well ‘worn in’. PVA mats wear down from repeated use which actually provides a bit more traction. When you buy a new mat, it is usually a lot more slippy than a used one (depending on the material). Beginners mats, which are usually budget mats, usually made of PVC, tend to take a lot of breaking in. Manufacturers may advise you to wash it in the bath/shower and allow it to dry over the washing line, as this can provide a bit of ‘wearing in’. Yoga teachers may advise you let your kids play on it or to leave it on the floor in your home for a few days so it gets a bit of traffic over it. I tried scrubbing mine with a sponge to wear it down a bit. Unfortunately none of these things worked for me, my mat was still super slidey. I bought another mat, again PVC but it had more indents in the material and looked and felt like it would be provide more grip. I tried it out briefly at home, it wasn’t too bad. Then I used it at my yoga class where I built up a bit of a sweat…my hands and feet where sliding everywhere, I might as well have not bothered with a mat at all!
Then I heard of chalk for yogis hands; it absorbs the perspiration on sweaty palms so technically, any mat should be grippy. This was actually provided by my local yoga studio, I saw other yogis going back and forth to use it so i gave it a go. Unfortunately the grip that the chalk provided was short-lived, it didn’t help my slippy situation for long, after one or two down dogs I had to reapply. Personally, I didn’t like this option at all…lots of stopping and starting to reapply the chalk was very disruptive to my practice. A friend suggested yoga socks, basically socks made specifically for yoga (or other barefoot activities) that are gripped to provide non slip soles . Personally, I like to feel grounded during my yoga practice and much prefer the barefoot feel, so for me, this didn’t work well either.
After around four different budget type mats of different design and texture, all promising to provide a non-slip surface, I still hadn’t found one that provided the grip that I required. So I decided to try a more expensive option, I reviewed loads online and on Amazon, I asked friends for their opinions and found a mat that I loved! I loved it so much, I bought two of it; one for the car, rolled up and ready for class, and one for home, rolled out and ready for use (I have found I am much more likely to practice daily if my mat is rolled out and ready for use), feel free to have a look at my other posts on setting up and area in your home to practice yoga (or meditation) .
So, after trying out lots of budget mats, I found that you really do need to spend a bit more if you want a decent mat. If you are looking for a super grippy mat (which most beginners are), you will probably have to spend a bit more than the £15-£30 price bracket that most budget mats cost. The mat that I choose was a Yogibare yoga mat. It is the best priced non-slip mat; it cost around £50 including postage. Seriously, it is completely non-slip, no matter how much you sweat! They are made from natural rubber and eco-friendly polyurethane, which provide a ‘Griptech’ surface. They are a little wider and longer than an average yoga mat so you get a little more space to practice (great for busy yoga classes where mats are only a few inches apart). They are 4.2mm thick, so decently cushioned to provide comfort but not overly so that it affects your balance.
I purchased a red one but it is stocked in black and grey too. They are easily the best non-slip mat that I have used; I would definitely recommend them to beginners who know they enjoy yoga and want to commit to a regular practice. It won’t disappoint you.
Purchase it here on Amazon. It has been tested by real yogis and yoga teachers and has great reviews from both.
There are lots of yoga mats on the market, you can even find them in your local supermarket sometimes, but most budget mats usually aren’t non-slip (despite what the manufacturers claim!). You will probably have to spend a few more pounds to get a decent one. Don’t worry though, if you decide to give up yoga (or you just want a newer version of mat), you can always sell your old one on ebay, I have seen used yoga mats sell pretty well online. You are likely to make around half your money back.
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