When I first started practicing yoga, it was exclusively in places where mats were provided. I never thought I needed my own mat, but one day I got stuck with a stinky one for a 75-minute class. Yuck.
I got my first mat for Christmas, as a gift from my parents. I was so excited!!
When I started YogaFit training (nine months ago), I received a new mat. My treasured pink mat was relegated to “spare”, which I now loan to students in my private classes. I use my YogaFit mat exclusively, and it’s already flaking like crazy. Flaking isn’t a huge deal to me – my dog Rocky sheds a lot anyway, and the mat bits just come off when I lint roll my yoga clothes. But I think I spend enough time on the mat to justify buying one for the first time.
There are two big things to consider when purchasing a new mat.
First: how are you going to reuse your old one? Throwing it away means it will take a bajillion years to degrade in a landfill – if it ever does. Luckily, I have all sorts of yoga plans in my future which means I will be hanging on to both of my old mats for the time being. I know they will come in handy some day.
Second: what is most important to you when it comes to a mat? Stickiness? Attractiveness? Size? Brand? Price? Since this is the first time I get to research my own purchase, I’m taking the task very seriously. I’ve decided my two most important qualities are 1) Eco-Friendliness and 2) Stickiness. I want to make sure new my mat is made in the least harmful way possible, and I want it to actually stick to the floor. Otherwise, I won’t use it and no matter how Eco-Friendly it is, it’s wasteful if it sits in the corner.
Eco Yogini has written a lot about buying an eco-friendly yoga mat: here, here, and this post about ways to re-use your mat. The most important thing I’ve found is that just because a mat says it’s eco-friendly, doesn’t make it so. Some eco-friendly mats still use TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer), which we have reason to be wary of (check my links to EcoYogini for more).
The mat I am currently considering is prAna’s Natural Yoga Mat. It’s made of rubber, which is more sustainable than man-made plastic. prAna is famous for their Revolution Natural Sticky Mat, but it’s so large that I just can’t bring myself to buy it. I teach in relatively tight quarters twice a week and there’s just no room for it! The Natural Yoga Mat seems to be my best choice.
What decisions go into your yoga mat purchases? Do you have a Natural Yoga Mat by prAna? Any mat brands to avoid?