The Best Yoga Mats
Let’s talk about yoga mats! While the practice of yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years, however, the “practice” of using yoga mats is pretty new! Due to its popularity and high demand, yoga mats have started to become a much-needed necessity. Whatever your yoga style is, we’ve decided to break it down and provide the best 10 yoga mats from quality to affordable to find the right mat for you so you can have the best Asana. We examined the best in comfort, stability, portability and body, and Eco-friendliness – the qualities that really matter. So relax, and get ready to say “OM-Yeah” to one of these great choices! No matter what your yoga style is, our top ten list has something perfect for everyone.
- Clever Yoga Mat
- Liforme Yoga Mat
- Balance From GoYoga All-Purpose
- Heathyoga ProGrip Yoga Mat
- Square36 Large Yoga Mat
- Aurorae Classic Extra Thick
- Aurorae Synergy 2 in 1 Yoga Mat
- Gaiam Print Yoga Mats
- Reehut NBR Exercise Yoga Mat
- Sivan Yoga Mat
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Yoga Mats
1. Clever Yoga Mat
Extra wide, extra long
Non-toxic, eco-friendly material
Comes in a variety of colors
Excellent padding and cushion
Explore your limits with excellent grip on a body friendly, non toxic yoga mat. The LiquidBalance mat means a sweat-proof, comfortable experience. No-slip features keep you in tact, while eco-friendly materials keep the environment in tact, too! Don’t forget the stylish, on-trend carrying bag!Read more
A natural rubber base keeps the ends of the mat from rolling and disturbing your flow. Soft to the touch cushioning feels great beneath you, while your joints enjoy superb, densely engineered thick padding. Never slide on this specially designed surface with great traction. Feel free to get sweaty without losing your grip. At 72.8” x 26.8” you’ll enjoy luxuriously long and wide comfort while still uber light for portability. Don’t forget the travel mat version, for road trips or as a topper. We love how easy it is to keep clean - thanks to antibacterial materials and a quick dry surface, the Clever Yoga mat is swiftly renewed with mild soap and water. Now that is clever!
We love that this mat is comprised of sustainably harvested and processed natural tree rubber. Feel the eco-love with this 100% biodegradable wonder mat. And with no toxic chemicals, PVC or latex your yoga is a healthy practice for you in every way. Clean polyurethane for quick dry and heat-bound layers replace toxic glues or other chemicals.
Higher end, but worth the investment. Comes with lifetime guarantee. Can easily be used for other exercise like core and ab work as well.
2. Liforme Yoga Mat
Intelligent Markers system
GripForMe no slip engineering
Available in multiple colors
Mapping system is not removable; some may prefer a mat without guidance
The Lifeforme Yoga Mat boasts the one-of-a-kind “GripForMe” material which will match whatever moves you bring to your practice. Use the “intelligent makers” for guidance with all your positions - assisting form, ability and ultimately strength. All this and pretty too.Read more
You can’t miss with the intelligent marker design embedded into the Lifeforme Yoga Mat. Feel your yoga asana practice truly come into alignment with this revolutionary mapping system. A guidance that keeps your body centered as you experience your best practice, you can’t help but feel your mind follow as the guesswork is removed and a total focus on movement and meditation becomes primary. Trademark “GripForMe” material promises a no-slip, ultra grip experience no matter how slippery or sweaty your practice. Couple these outstanding features with dense cushioning and stability and we’re certain we’ve got all your poses covered with this contender.
At a mere 5 pounds, the Lifeforme Yoga mat is quite portable. Lightweight doesn’t translate to less material. At 72.8x26.8 users enjoy an extra long, extra wide long mat suitable for your Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow or Hatha practice - or any other type of yoga you love. Using a strong, eco friendly rubber base and additional cushioned felt means a sturdy yet comfortable support system which results in a very, very body friendly mat.
High end price point but the unique design, navigation and cushion are best-quality.
3. Balance From GoYoga All-Purpose
Excellent wicking and slip resistance on both sides
Decently large surface area
Comes with convenient carrying bag
Some toxic materials may be present
Not the most durable
The BalanceFrom GoYoga All-Purpose mat is no shrinking violet to your warrior - pose, that is. With slip-resistant materials on both sides, not only will you stand firm no matter your position, but this mat will, too, no matter the flooring beneath it. Add lots of foam cushion and wicking material and your mind and body are ready for an undistracted, safe practice!Read more
Trademark technology offers a moisture free practice with wicking properties that you keep you feeling dry, and your body free from injuries caused by slippery falls. A half inch of extra thick material also works to keep users comfortable - and also less likely to experience hip and joint pain more often related to practices on less cushioned surfaces. All sizes and shapes will love the long and wide (71x24) dimensions of this mat, filled with a dense foam material that helps to absorb the shock of some poses. All of this with a 2-year warranty!
Slip resistant dual sides make this a body-friendly mat. Feel safe to freely explore your Treestand pose without concerns of your map slipping beneath you. We love the free strap for carrying ease, too!
This is one of the most affordable yoga mats on our list and it comes with plenty of useful features that really make it a steal.
4. Heathyoga ProGrip Yoga Mat
Built-in alignment markers
Large surface area
Non-toxic and non-slip materials
Available in two colors
Just a little pricey
Perfect for any type of yoga, but ideal for hot yoga where some mats may falter. Patented materials mean the greater the moisture the greater the grip. So get Down(ward Dog), and get sweaty without the slippy!Read more
A uniquely designed eco-polyurethane ultra slip-resistant surface with additional wicking technology means that while your sweat rises, your slip's won’t. Feel confident in your poses with this uber grip material. Morning meditations are cozy and comfortable with excellent cushioning - long term this means healthier joints, too. Whether your style is Vinyasa, Bikram, Hot Yoga or something else, you’ll have enough comfy cushion and grip to explore your personal best.
Your body will love the way this non-toxic mat feels, and so will the environment. The polyurethane construction is sure to stay put and the markers are laser engraved so they don't contain any heavy metals. It is PVC-free and recyclable 100%.
This mat is a just a little pricey, but the performance is fantastic and holds up even during activities like hot yoga. It is versatile, comfortable, and has overwhelmingly positive customer reviews.
5. Square36 Large Yoga Mat
The larger size is ideal for home gym and many types of exercises
Non-toxic, safe for hardcore practice
Helps protect your flooring
Made from natural rubber
Overwhelmingly positive customer feedback
Mat will need to be used multiple times to achieve greater traction
A yoga mat that does double duty as an exercise mat, fit for high intensity workouts? Yes, please! Highly durable material renders this mat indestructable - you'll love it for your asana or your hardcore workouts.Read more
At double the size of a standard yoga mat, the Square36 measures 6x4 feet providing luxurious space for all of your moves. It also performs double duty as a workout mat for other types of exercise including Zumba and Piyo, with its well-designed, stable materials. In spite of its large size, the mat weighs a mere 7 pounds making it easy to transport from home gym to office, vacation or anywhere else you want to zen out or work out.
Created with high grade, non toxic materials free of Silicone, Latex and Phthalates, feel confident that your practice is chemical free. The Square36 pairs well with other mats featured by the manufacturer. Coupling the Square36 with the S36 Cardio creates an excellent platform for home based workouts with a broader scope. Comfy cushioning and awesome grip keep your body well aligned and protected from rough surfaces.
Although the price point on this mat is a little high you're mostly paying for the convenience and size of the mat itself, so it's justified. Luckily, with this high price, you'll also be getting high-quality materials and performance.
6. Aurorae Classic Extra Thick
Non-toxic, natural materials
Printed icon for focal point
Available in lots of different colors
Some may take issue with less cushion
For Yogis who like cushion without density, the Aurorae Classic is an excellent choice. Some prefer just enough thickness for joint protection while still accessing a floor grip for balance poses. Offered in a rainbow-range of colors, you’ll love the hues, too!Read more
The Aurorae mat is 72x24” long, making it a suitable choice for all shapes and sizes. Take it anywhere and get sweaty: the mat is super lightweight and odorless! A perfect combination for any yogi who means business when they practice and like to take their practice anywhere! Durable materials make it a nice selection for Pilates or aerobics, too. Don’t forget the free, non-slip rosin. Nice bonus!
We love the extensive testing these mats have undergone to ensure user safety. They are non-toxic with no phthalates, phenols, PAHS, latex, silicone or rubber. Let your body feel the bliss and worry not about harmful chemicals interfering with your wellness! The Rising Moon Focal point icon lets users stay concentrated escalating a meaningful practice, and powerfully omitting distractions. With icons in illuminating colors, you’ll definitely find yours! Love the way you feel entirely during and after your practice on this fabulously friendly contender.
The price tag attached to this mat is very affordable and reasonable considering the quality.
7. Aurorae Synergy 2 in 1 Yoga Mat
Great for hot yoga
Dual-sided microfiber towel materials
Does not come with sling
It’s tough to find a better match for your high intensity, uber sweaty workouts. The Aurorae Synergy Yoga Mat-Towel intelligently fuses a lush microfiber towel for a slip free practice. Perfect for Hot Yoga, or fast flow routines like Kundalini kriyas, Vinyasa or Power yoga.Read more
The need for additional towels has been eliminated with the creation of this patented yoga mat and towel combination. Beautifully stitched together, and offered in several calming hues, we love the aesthetic and the action this mat can endure. Odorless, lightweight and wait for it... machine washable! If that doesn’t create a calming effect we aren’t sure what will! Add 5mm of luxurious cushion for joint protection and comfort and extra long and wide measurements for all shapes and sizes. Let the Bikram begin!
Comprised of only natural, clean chemicals, the mat in no way hinders your journey to good health and wellness. Oeko-Tex tested and approved, no rubber, phthalates, latex or silicone. Because the mat is free of toxic product, you can feel confident that your health and the environment’s wellness are equally respected. Don’t forget Aurorae’s “Namaste” warranty, which lets customers return the mat if for any reason or at any time they desire to do so.
The price for this mat is pretty middle of the road compared to the rest of our selection and considering its versatility the price is pretty reasonable.
8. Gaiam Print Yoga Mats
Amazing reversible designs
Dimensions average, not a perfect match for every body
Elephants, sundials, and lily shadows are just some of the bohemian aesthetics to jumpstart your yogi state of mind. We can’t stop thinking about the endless list of lovely mat styles and hues that Gaiam offers. We’re certain you’ll love them as much as we do!Read more
We can’t stop bragging on the beautiful colors, patterns and design features that Gaiam has created. Yogis enjoy a healthy mind/body practice and there’s nothing like a luxurious mat to help inspire the moment. Relax into the comfortable, textured non-slip mat and worry not about mishaps during strenuous poses. With excellent traction, feel confident your mat will stay in place so that you can, too. So lightweight and tear resistant, you can take your artfully created mat anywhere, anyplace for yoga anytime. Bonus free yoga workout download? Yes, Please!
Body friendly materials make up this well cushioned mat. And we love that it’s free of phthalates, DHEP, DBP, BBP, DRP, DINP, and DIDP which can all have harmful effects on you and your environment. Go downward dog and beyond and worry not about your health - or Mother Nature.
These wonderfully colorful mats are pretty affordable, sitting at the mid to low end of the price point spectrum. If you're shopping on a budget you could easily snag one of these guilt free.
9. Reehut NBR Exercise Yoga Mat
Variety of colors
Includes carrying strap
Double-sided non-stick texture
Some may prefer less cushion
The Reehut yoga mat is your perfect companion for rigorous workouts! Love that is comes with its own carrying strap so you can practice your yoga on the go! With excellent features that let you sweat without slip, push yourself while your tear-resistant mat stays all the while in tact. Namaste!Read more
Relax or work hard on your Reehut yoga mat. With a ½” of comfy cushion comprised of NBR materials, you’ll love the way your colorful mat responds to your body. Worry less about joint or hip injury, and enjoy the benefits of poses on posh materials. The texture provides excellent grip on many surfaces, so take your practice out of the house, into the hills or wherever your heart desires. And with the included sling, portability of this lightweight wonder just got even easier!
Eco-friendly, comprised of non-toxic chemicals, you’ll feel healthy and well spending time on the Reehut yoga mat. Tear resistant and high grip materials are accessible without environmental harm. This extra long and wide mat is your perfect companion for yoga, Pilates or picnics. We love that it’s so versatile and boasts excellent patented powerhouse gripping without chemicals. Feeling the Zen of that great combination!
This is probably the least expensive option in our selection, a great grab for anyone looking for a super affordable yoga mat that they can take anywhere.
10. Sivan Yoga Mat
Roll up and secure, use the attached strap
Available in multiple colors
Not the most durable
A Yoga mat which gives durability combined with comfort and functionality. The upper surface is cushioned and the mat has an anti-slip capability, this mat is very good for all types of exercises and for yoga. Nice lightweight product with designed in anti-skid ridges, NBR foam which is durable, the mat features an extra thick dimension and measures in at 71 inches long, 24 inches wide and 1/2 an inch thick.Read more
This is a thick mat at half an inch in thickness, protecting your key joints during yoga or other exercises while the high-quality foam holds the shape well. The ribbed surface is innovatively designed and textured to be non-slip on either side, offering a good combination of comfort and stability that allows you to focus on your most balanced stances yet.
The body of the mat measures seventy-one inches in length, twenty-four inches in width and a full half inch for comfortable thickness. The construction is low-impact when it comes to the environment and has very good durability and is easy to wipe or wash clean. You can easily tote this mat around with you using the included carrying strap.
This mat might be a little more basic but that also means it is affordable, offering all the necessary amenities at a reasonable price.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The use and performance of a quality yoga mat can be broken down into three traits: comfort, stability, and portability. By examining these we predict which yoga mats will really be a good fit for both seasoned and first-time yoga users.
Seeking the best mat that is comfortable for your needs is a good place to start. Several components factor into a mat’s comfort, and we’re diving into them all! The first to consider is thickness. You can find a lot of different thicknesses of yoga mats today, some so thin that they don’t even feel like you’re standing, kneeling, or posing on anything. Basically, they’re a good floor covering. For new yogis, this doesn’t offer enough support, for those who have been practicing for years, most people need some thickness to cushion their movements. That being said, a mat that is too thick will also be difficult to pose and hold poses on because it will be overly cushioned. Too much cushioning will have too much “give” and be soft for most people. However, exception for this might be for people who are seeking an overly soft mat for the added challenge of engaging their muscles to hold the poses in a dramatic way. For the general population, a yoga mat somewhere in the middle is best and most mats sold in a middle range in one of three levels of thickness. These levels are one-fourth of an inch thick, one-eighth of an inch thick, and one-sixteenth of an inch thick. Mats that are one-fourth of an inch are usually on the more expensive side. They will however, offer some support, but plenty of cushioning. Depending on your preferences they also might be the most comfortable option for you, with the added thickness it will make it harder to roll up and harder to transport.
Mats measuring one-eighth of an inch are actually the most sold mats around because they offer a decent amount of cushioning and comfort. They are sturdy and supportive enough that they really help the yogi hold those difficult poses without too much extra effort. These mats are easier to roll up and easier to transport from place to place. Lastly, mats that measure one-sixteenth of an inch are getting dangerously close to providing barely any comfort at all. Knowing to be especially painful for individuals who have knee problems who are practicing yoga on wood, concrete or, hard floors. That being said, some people do prefer them because it DOES allow them to feel the floor better. It helps give them a sturdier base and understand how to balance and disperse weight when they are trying out complex poses. These types of mats are also fit virtually in any space and they are easy to take along with you if you’re traveling.
Stability of a yoga mat is all about how well the mat can grip the floor, and the real stability test comes when you are sweating or the air is humid and you are attempting some seriously challenging poses. In the middle of a hot yoga headstand, the last thing you want is for your mat to lose its traction and support and send you tumbling over. Levels of stability will differ depending on the material and texture of the mat because these are the two factors that play the biggest role in determining a mat’s grip and stickiness. Furthermore, the thinner the mat the more stable it will be.
For the most part, thicker mats, though they offer more comfort, are going to have so much cushion that they make it harder to balance and thus you are made less stable. Stability is an important factor to consider, especially when you take into account where exactly you will be practicing your yoga. Sometimes, the dark stuffiness of a yoga studio or gym exercise room just is not going to cut it, and you feel the need to take your practice outside. Outdoor yoga sessions can be wonderful, but also less stable depending on the terrain you choose. The ground might be rocky or uneven, and you might even want to practice on a hillside or incline. If that sounds like you, then one of the grippier, stickier mats that provide more support will be what you need.
Portability is all about transportability, and how easy it is to quickly roll up the mat, stuff it in your bag, over your head, or under your arm, and hit the road. This is especially important for the yogis who have a packed schedule and have to jump immediately from event to event without being able to go home in between. The thinnest measurement of thickness (one-sixteenth of an inch) will be the easiest to roll up, the easiest to carry, and the easiest to stow away.
Mats of this thickness have their downsides when it comes to cushioning, comfort, grip, and support but they are definitely the easiest to transport so if that is your number one concern, go with an easy to pack mat! The thicker the mat, the less easy they are to transport. Similarly, extra long yoga mats are going to be less portable than shorter ones because there will be more mat to physically roll up, which will mean a bulkier mat to stuff away in your bag or to carry. (But, of course, if you are super tall and you absolutely just NEED a long yoga mat, you will likely have to sacrifice some transportability in this case). An added bonus of many of the mats on our list is that they are actually conveniently sold with a carrying bag to go with them.
Your yoga mat will only be as good as its materials and there are a few different varieties you may see while you're shopping. Many of our options are natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly.
Yoga mats are made using a variety of materials. The most common materials that you will find yoga mats sold in are those made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride, or a popularly and widespread sold plastic polymer and otherwise commonly known simply as just vinyl), rubber, cotton, foam, and jute. Mats made out of PVC tend to have the smoothest texture, and the least amount of physical ‘grip’ but are definitely still sticky. Still, some yogis may find that they have to work harder to maintain balance, alignment, and support. But mats made out of PVC are typically cheaper, last way longer and are easier to clean and take care of (the main downside and complaints from consumers about PVC are that they are not biodegradable or made using sustainable efforts).
If you like the PVC mats for all reasons except their lack of environmental friendliness, then a foam mat is the way to go. Performance wise, they are very close to PVC mats in the way of how much stickiness they offer, though foam mats can also feel way more cushioning when you get into thicker thicknesses (so if you do not want a lot of cushions but want a foam mat, go with a thinner thickness measurement). Be careful if you have a latex allergy though! Foam mats will make your allergies flare up. As far as grip, stickiness, texture, and eco-friendliness are concerned, rubber made mats fare very similarly to foam mats (and the same holds true, unfortunately, for setting off any latex allergies).
The only real difference you will see between the two is that foam mats tend to offer a little more cushioning, and thus, a little more “give,” especially in the thicker mats. If you want to take a step back in time and practice yoga like some of the originals, opt for a cotton mat. Cotton mats tend to be thin and are usually put on top of other mats. They also do not wick sweat super well but they ARE easy to clean, easy to transport, and definitely environmentally friendly. Finally, jute mats are very similar to cotton mats: they usually measure very thin, fold up nicely into your gym bag, and offer great traction (especially when lain on top of other mats) but the jute root is a more fibrous texture than cotton and, subsequently, will offer even more stickiness than cotton
If you are practicing yoga, whether it is because you are a long time, hardcore yogi skilled in the exercise’s many different forms or because you need a classroom atmosphere and someone leading you through the poses in order to get a good post-run stretch and work out some of your achy joints and muscles, you likely care about the well being of your body, the well being of others, and the well being of the earth and environment. If you value sustainability and Eco-friendliness, then taking up the sport of yoga should not mean you have to sacrifice your values!
Fortunately, our list of yoga mats offer some great products that are made from both body and Eco-friendly materials. It is helpful to know which materials are known to be more sustainable produced than others. As a general rule of thumb, mats made from PVC vinyl will have the most “harmful” substances in regards to the environment and are the least sustainable made mats. That is because PVC is not biodegradable so will sit in a landfill for a VERY long time, and can be very expensive to recycle. However, mats made out of recycled rubber and jute most similarly match PVC mats in affordability and grip, texture, stickiness, and support but are much more Eco-friendly options. Cotton is also an Eco-friendly material.
If you have a latex allergy, then you will likely develop an allergic reaction if you practice on a mat made out of PVC or rubber. Some practitioners who are allergic to leather claim they break out in hives and have trouble breathing (that is not related to just exercise-induced heavy breathing!) when they use rubber or PVC mats. If you are allergic to latex, play it safe and opt formats made out of cotton, wool is another great choice if you practice a more meditative form of yoga, but wool mats don’t hold up well in super sweaty yoga sessions.
Whether price is the first or last thing you look at, the price point is often the final deciding factor on whether or not a product is worth buying.
From super cheap mats that you can pick up at any old retail store to very high end, very expensive mats from some of the best-known manufacturers and private yoga studios around the world, there is bound to be a yoga mat that fits your budget. Our list takes into consideration price, and we have strayed away from offering you the super, super cheap options that are just not worth your money at all but have provided you with relatively well-priced options that are more than just a bargain, but that hold their own against other more expensive brands in terms of performance. As far as actual price is concerned, the mats on our list range from $15 all the way up to $200. That might seem like a lot, but do not just immediately write off the more expensive mats!
If you are just starting out with your yoga practice, choosing a mat may seem overwhelming. We suggest you keep it simple if you are a newbie – don’t spend too much and get a mat that is super supportive. If you are more experienced in your yoga practice, you will better understand how different features of yoga mats will negatively or positively affect your practice, and it is probably worth it to invest in a great mat.
Other Factors to Consider
Purchasing a yoga mat may be a wise decision even if you are not particularly interested in yoga itself because the mats are highly versatile and can be used in a number of ways and for many other forms of exercise. If you are looking for something to support and cushion your more intense, circuit cardio sessions, then a yoga mat is a great option. It can be used to assist in such heart-pumping exercises as mountain climbers, push-ups, planks and other exercises that have your hands on the floor, as well as lower body workouts like squats and lunges. Yoga mats are also used commonly in Barre classes, especially when you take the Barre class to the comfort of your home. Plie squats and movements on your tip toes can be hard to do on the surface of a bare floor alone, but doing them atop a yoga mat will help add some stickiness and grip. If you are looking to get a great ab workout and blast your core with sit-ups, crunches, v-ups, or side planks, make sure you have a yoga mat for support and stability! And finally, you will benefit by having a yoga mat to practice other Eastern exercises similar to yoga, like tai chi and pilates.
Certain forms of yoga need different yoga mats. For instance, if you are into hot yoga, then you know that you often leave the studio feeling great, but also super sweaty. In order to maintain the integrity of your yoga mat, you are going to need one that wicks moisture well (so, in other words, definitely not a cotton-made mat!). A bonus would be that it comes with a towel! It should also be made out of a material that is easy to clean and stands up to water, sweat, and moisture.
Hot yoga (or Bikram yoga) is a more intense practice, as are other western yoga practices that emphasize strength and the workout over the traditional Eastern yoga that encompasses more calming, meditative yoga forms, then you will need a mat that works in tandem with helping you build strength and hit your poses. The yoga forms in which time between poses is smoother, longer, and more relaxed and which focus on breathing and centering will still require mats that assist your poses and have the right stickiness levels for such poses, but you also might benefit from a thicker mat with more cushioning.
Frequently Asked Questions
This may seem like an obvious one, and you likely already know the answer if you are searching for yoga mats, but if you don’t, then it is a good place to start! The more you understand about the practice of yoga, the better you will be able to deduce which yoga mat is right for you! Simply put, yoga is a type of unitive exercise discipline that, in its true form, emphasizes not only poses and postures, but thoughts, breathing, meditation, and relief from self. It is the emphasis on poses and postures that make it an “exercise” but yoga encapsulates so much more than just that. There are actually hundreds of forms of yoga to choose from, but the most popular ones include vinyasa yoga, hatha yoga, Bikram yoga, yin yoga, ashtanga yoga, and restorative yoga.
Vinyasa yoga is the classic “workout yoga” because the time between poses doesn’t last long and movements are synchronized with breathing, and often put against more upbeat music (if you are practicing in a class). Hatha yoga focuses on balance – and not just physical upright balance, but finding a balance between movements. “Ha” translates to the sun and “that” translates to the moon, and similarly to the balanced juxtaposition of the sun and the moon, hatha yoga practitioners work to find the balance between forceful movements and flowing energy. Ultimately, the focus of is on asanas, or postures, and to strengthen and find proper alignment, but also be slightly more meditative than vinyasa. Bikram yoga takes the swiftness of vinyasa yoga, but limits the total number of poses to 26, and puts it in a heated room.
This means a higher heart rate, and more sweat (so if you are interested in more of a calorie-torching practice that still helps release the mind, this is the style for you). Yin yoga is similar to restorative yoga – it is a lot slower than other forms, with more time between poses and an added concentration on breathing (often performed in seated or lying positions). Ashtanga yoga is a great option for both beginners and for experienced yogis because it uses just six positions in repetition. Each position is connected to the others through breathing, but Ashtanga focuses on perfecting the poses until they are near perfect. Finally, restorative yoga is the perfect option for those who are really looking to take it slow, wind down and ease the mind and get a decent stretch and energy flow throughout the bodies. This is a great option for runners, especially, who need the calming but fluid benefits of yoga.
Yoga is about more than just stretching, posing, and balancing. It is rooted in eight “limbs” which encompass the entirety of the practice. These eight limbs are Yama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dhyana, and samadhi. Yama refers to one’s ethical and moral standards. It refers to the basic rules and principles which we personally choose to live by. Specifically, the five Yamas are nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, continence, and covetousness. Niyama refers to self-discipline and the order with which we surround ourselves. The five Niyama are cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, studying sacred scripture, and surrendering to a higher being. Asanas are the physical components of yoga – the poses, the body, etc. It is what we typically think of when we think of “yoga” from an exercise perspective. Pranayama refers to breathing, and specifically, controlling one’s breathing.
Pratyahara refers to internalizing our practice, meditating, and drawing inward away from the world. Dharana refers to concentration, which is closely associated with the other limbs of pranayama, asana, and pratyahara. Dhyana takes the principles of pratyahara such as meditation and concentration and puts them into the context of an uninterrupted flow of relaxing energy. Finally, samadhi refers to joy, ecstasy, and total aliveness that comes with being properly aligned, fully engaged but completely meditative and at peace, which one can achieve over time through repeated yoga practice.
We explained above that asanas are one of the eight limbs of yoga and the aspect of a yoga practice that you probably most commonly think of when you think about yoga. Asanas refer to the actual bodily poses involved in yoga. They are more than just stretching or strength building exercises, but are purposeful in centering and aligning the body, and creating a meditative flow of energy between the body, mind, and spirit. They can be relaxing but still difficult, and increase flexibility, strength, and stimulation of the circulatory and immune systems. Different forms of yoga are centered around different asanas, but some commonly known asanas are the headstand, the cobra, the downward facing dog, and the warrior pose.
Yoga mats are one of those exercise tools that might come with a bit of “sticker shock”. Most people know that, if they want to purchase a quality pair of running shoes or athletic attire, they will probably pay over $100 in most cases. But when you think of a thin rectangular piece of rubber, you generally do not expect it to cost you almost $200. However, some of the better mats on our list will run you $150-$200. But you are definitely paying for quality, and that’s a good thing! These mats have superior integrity and will last you for years while staying in tip-top shape. If you are a serious yogi or looking to really take your practice to the next level, investing in a more expensive but quality mat is definitely worth it.
One of the great things about yoga mats, especially well-made ones, is how easy they are to clean and maintain. As far as washing your yoga mat is concerned, there are several options for you to choose from. The first is simply dousing it with soap and water. This can basically be any soap (though a detergent soap will clean it best) but be careful not to use too much, or risk leaving an oily coating atop your mat. Four parts water to one parts soap should do the trick! There are also special mat-sanitizing solutions that you can choose from, but some of these solutions, while they will definitely rid your mat of all bacteria, use harsh chemicals and the residue left behind might be harsh on your skin.
You can always make your own at-home solutions, as well. A great option is a simple water and baking soda mixture or mixing essential oils and water. Finally, some yoga mats (especially those made from cotton) can be thrown in the washing machine along with your other dirty clothes. Just be sure to use a gentle cycle and definitely avoid the dryer! When it is done, roll it up, squeeze out the excess water, and then let it air dry.
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- Which Type of Yoga is Right for You?, LiveStrong Blog Article, Sep 11, 2017 ,
- 10 Home Exercises You Can Do with Just a Yoga Mat, Health Fitness Revolution Blog, Sep 16, 2016 ,