All yoga mats are definitely not made equal. The mat you choose is individual to your experience, and will age differently over time. Getting the right fit and feel can be a mission, especially since a lot of the better mats are only available online.
In this blog, we want to explore some of the textual, and design reasoning, behind your yoga mat choices, to give you a feel for the perfect yoga mat - long before you click buy.
Do you like your yoga mats to be hard or soft? Preference for yoga mats is different to how we like our mattresses or blankets, because a yoga mat is made for working out (and maybe some post-yoga relaxing).
Some people will prefer a mat that’s less fibrous, which is often a good idea if you’re exercising with a fair amount of skin exposed (as soft materials can rub). In the natural range there’s hemp and cotton, with the latter being a fair bit softer to the touch, all the way through to cork. If you don’t know what you prefer, try running you hand over some samples of material before you buy, and imagine that feeling over your entire body.
Some mats, like jute, are naturally more ‘rope-like’ in feel, and so are fairly tough, while fibrous. However, for some this gives off itching and causes skin irritation - as does cotton, or even hemp. If you know you’re likely to be affected by a certain cloth material, perhaps your best bet is a natural rubber or cork, which doesn’t have those same fibrous properties.
Ideally, whatever mat you choose, you want at least 10cm of wiggle room, lying down, between the edge of the mat and any part of your body. This should give you a good indication of the size of mat you want - ideally it should be just a little bit taller than you.
You’ll want to be keeping your limbs equally aligned during your practice to find balance - not easy to do by eye! The best mats will have these lines drawn on, which help you position your feet and hands during poses.
Most mats you buy will easily roll up into a cylinder, or fold to be put away nicely. Some will even come with straps you can use to keep your mat from unfolding whilst stored away! And don’t let the sound of cork put you off - it’s actually a very flexible, crack-proof material, when treated right, which folds just like any other.
Unfortunately, we all have a tendency to sweat a bit when we’re exercising - and while it’s great for cooling the body off, it can mean we’re left cleaning up some fairly icky mats after! Plastic mats are notoriously hard to clean, as they just absorb the sweat. Luckily, natural mats are usually quite easy. Depending on what you buy, you should just be able to wash (with cotton or hemp) or wipe down (with cork, jute or rubber) your mat afterwards.
This one is entirely subjective, but we recommend, to really harmonise with your yoga experience, a real earthy tone, such as sienna. This will help you to balance with your natural practice and create some awesome vibes on the mat.
Mats don’t last forever - they’re not supposed to! People commonly replace their mat each year. You may choose to keep yours longer and, with good washing and storage, it might just last you years. But eventually those stretches and poses will wear the mat down (or your cat may do it for you with their claws!)
In that case, you should really look to choose a mat which you can dispose of properly. Mats such as jute or hemp can be broken up and mulched fairly easily, while cork and others can naturally rot away. However you bury or reuse your mat, make sure it’s safely out of a landfill when you do.
There’s lots to consider when buying a new mat, as each really is individual to your overall yoga experience. This list here is meant as a guide, covering the main points when mat shopping - but you may find others you want to add or expand on. The process of finding the right mat is truly subjective, and depends on how your skin feels against certain surfaces.
At Eartha, we try to make our mats tick all the boxes we can, by being naturally sourced and biodegradable as well as comfortable and durable. We specialise in cork mats, and with cool positioning lines and earthy, warm and cool colour tones, to aid the mood of your yoga practice. If this sounds appealing to you, why not have a quick glance at our range - available on our store.