how a great yoga mat can change your practice


The practice of yoga is about uniting: breath and movement, body and spirit, and in my own personal practice - a yoking to Jesus through worshiping Him on my mat. Depending on your personal intentions, there are endless benefits to be found through regularly practicing yoga. Yoga is a discipline that can change lives. And it has changed lives. But today, yoga is also for sale, especially in the western World. Marketing has put its own spin on yoga, with all the supposed "must haves" to be a legitimate yogi, studio, or practice even. So how does one sort through the mire and find the authenticity that is within the market without the agenda?

Its important to remember that all of the accessories that go along with yoga, while they may enhance one’s practice or offerings, are not necessary to receive the benefits that this amazing, ancient practice offers. Today's vision of a yogi wears fashion suited to class and life, as well as expensive mats and gear promising to insure one's experience. So where do we draw the line? What is actually needed and beneficial as opposed to what is just extra - duping us to buy more in order to "look the part." In essence, the materialism side of yoga seriously opposes the principles behind its true nature, but that is not really the point of this post. That is for the yoga practitioner/consumer to sort out within themselves, as many of us (myself included) struggle to  fight the desire to buy that new and unnecessary pair of leggings to add to an already exceeding collection. Though I will agree, sometimes it may feel necessary. At the end of the day, it may just be that we need more of the actual practice in our lives to really get back to a healthier understanding of where these things fall on the priority scale. But all of this to say, I really do advocate and recommend that having a well-made, quality yoga mat is extremely beneficial to really enjoying and enhancing just about everyones yoga practice.

As a long time student, I have seen a massive difference in my own practice after switching from a $20 mat to one that is higher quality and made of real, natural rubber. I remember when Downward Dog seriously became ENJOYABLE after I made the switch! My hands were no longer slipping nor my muscles tensing in an effort to hold the pose. This for me was magical! As a yoga teacher, I have seen a dramatic change in the practice of my students' after they have switched to a higher quality mat as well. In fact, I would go as far as to say it completely transformed the practice of a few of my students. So if you are on the fence about getting a well crafted mat to improve your practice, I highly recommend it. But with so many choices, where do we start and how do we choose? What are the 'best' mats and which one is right for you? Since we all have different needs and our practices widely differ, this will factor into choosing the best suited mat for the job. Personally, I don't really promote one brand over another, because I haven't tried enough of them to compare for myself. In my own practice, I have thoroughly enjoyed my Manduka-Pro Light for years! It is well crafted and made of high quality, natural rubber, offering great grip and enough thickness for my joints. But there are so many great mats out there. Thats why I think reviews like the one I am about to share are so helpful for finding the right mat. In this case, a review resulting from a team of yogi's testing for one month the best deal, quality, durability, comfort, and portability so that we as consumers can get unbiased comparisons. I hope this can help take some of the confusion out of buying the mat of your yoga dreams, without breaking the bank. Read on for what went into making this mat review so thorough. You may want to factor this in when buying your next mat!

Finding the best yoga mat for your practice

Walk into any yoga studio and you’ll see a myriad of beautiful, brightly-colored mats that add vibrancy and color to class. But is there more to your yoga mat than meets the eye? The team at breaks down what makes a great yoga mat (and what to avoid) for your practice.

Grip: Mats need to be made of materials that facilitate strenuous sequences without any slipping or sliding. Nothing distracts from your flow like falling over or having to constantly reposition.

Comfort: This isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think of heading to class, but a yoga mat can truly make a difference for yogis with sensitive joints. For those who experience pain in their feet, palms, hips or knees, opting for a softer mat can help reduce the impact that some asanas have on their body. Beware of supersoft, super squishy options, however, as these can interfere with your balance and take away from your class experience.

Maintenance: Do you ever forego the after-class mat spraydown? Be careful, as yoga mats are known to collect sweat and dirt after weeks, months, and years of use. Mats come in either open-cell or closed-cell construction — open-cell mats are great at absorbing sweat and being grippy, but also soak up dirt and hold it in, making them harder to clean. Those who have little time for mat maintenance may want to look for a closed-sell option, which is easier to wipe down and keep clean.

Ultimately, the best mat is a personal choice that comes down to far more factors than just these. For more information and to see which mats perform well, you can check out the full guide here: