Having a yoga mat has become an important staple when it comes to practicing yoga. You typically won’t find someone without a yoga mat, and sometimes people will have extra tools like yoga blocks and straps for assistance.
Why are yoga mats important? Yoga mats are important because they assist with stability, prevent sliding, provide comfort, and give a sense of grounding and safety.
You’ll want to know how to go about getting your own mat, as well as all the benefits and assistance that a yoga mat can provide. Continue reading through this article to find out more about the importance of yoga mats.
Yoga Mats Offer Benefits from the Beginning
As with many inventions that end up becoming big hits, the yoga mat came into existence to solve a problem that one of yoga’s most historic teachers had due to surgery early in her life.
Yoga International tells the story of Angela Farmer, who made a name for herself in the yoga community by dedicating over 40 years of her life to teaching the practice. Early in her life, she underwent surgery that left her unable to sweat from her hands and feet.
As a result, she came across a carpet factory that had pieces of underlay. Angela looked at the underlay and got the idea to use it under her feet to have more traction and stability during her yoga classes. The next time she returned home, her dad helped connect her with a friend of his who just so happened to own a carpet factory. Once Angela told the idea to the owner, they immediately got to work and produced the first official yoga mat.
What started out as a fix to her own problem quickly became commonplace amongst yoga teachers and participants. Although you might sweat from your hands and feet just fine, the yoga mat has been a tremendously beneficial aid to all those who practice yoga.
Benefits of Using a Yoga Mat
There are a handful of benefits to having and using a yoga mat. They can help provide a safer experience for you during your class, but it can also be a healthy way to practice proper hygiene. Below is a list of some of the most significant advantages a yoga mat can provide:
- Increase traction and grip: With all the various moves in yoga, you’re often finding yourself gripping the floor (or mat) with your feet and hands as stable pillars. You don’t want the mat or your body sliding during a relaxing session.
- Personal safety: Having a stable and reliable yoga mat will keep you safe. Unwanted sliding and slipping might cause you to lose your footing and balance, which could result in you pulling a muscle or falling over.
- Added comfort: It is not very comfortable to lie or stretch on a hard surface; this can distract you from being present in your practice. Mats vary in thickness for added comfort based on your preference.
- Adds to ambiance and environment: Having a yoga mat provides a sense of personal and sacred space to the student. Some believe that having a yoga mat is also a form of respect to the practice.
- Adds to proper hygiene: Gyms and yoga studios typically have extra mats, bricks, and straps that others can use and sanitize after class. Even with sanitizing, the more you can reduce the potential for exchanging bodily fluids with someone else, the better.
- Stay warm in sitting and lying poses: If your yoga classes tend to be on a harder surface, it’s likely that it might not be the warmest either. Having a mat can keep you warmer when in a corpse or lotus pose with more of your body on the ground.
Whether you need a little more grip to help with stability and balance or don’t want to swap sweat with someone else, acquiring a decent yoga mat is low-cost and will give you a great return on your investment. Once you start using a yoga mat consistently, you won’t want to go through a class without one.
How to Find the Right Yoga Mat for You
There are various types of yoga mats ranging from length, thickness, extra tread for more grip, and texture of the mat. You want to find what will suit you best based on your comfort and experience level.
Here are some factors to consider when searching for a yoga mat:
Cushion and Comfort
If you want extra cushion and comfort, then you might want to consider a thicker mat to help take some of the load off any sore joints or tender spots you may have throughout your body. There is a pretty wide range of thickness levels, going from 3mm up to 15mm. We recommend the Clever Yoga Mat, as it’s somewhere in the middle of providing enough cushion without compromising support or stability.
Where you do most of your yoga can also play a factor in the kind of mat you ought to buy. If you practice in a studio with a hard surface, you might want more thickness. If you practice outside on top of the grass, you might not need as thick of a mat since you’ll have some give with the grass as well.
Yoga Mat Design
It is very common for yoga mats to be accompanied by a specific design on top of the surface. Though this may seem like a small thing, lots of those who practice yoga want to enjoy what they could be looking down at for up to an hour. We recommend the Yoga Design Lab Yoga Mat if you want to add something more to your practice.
Length and Width
Length and width also matter in yoga mats. Since everyone is built differently, you’ll want to pick out a mat that is the proper size. Based on some of the positions you might be doing in class, you could find yourself taking longer and broader stances, and you don’t want your feet to have to leave the mat and potentially lose the benefits of having one.
If you’re not comfortable in the yoga class, you won’t enjoy it or be as present as you should be while in the middle of a meditative exercise like this. Like a football or baseball athlete who wants to be well-adjusted to their equipment so nothing feels out of place, a yoga student or instructor will want that same sense of unity with their mats.
Yoga has been growing in popularity for years and seems to finally have a wider acceptance across all types of individuals and athletes. There are countless benefits from participating in a regular yoga practice. You can increase mobility, flexibility, strength, breathing, self-control, and awareness.
Having the proper equipment like a yoga mat can help you enter a different space with your mind while entering a different space with your body. It’s like stepping into a different little world filled with relaxation and peace of mind.
Stop tossing the idea of getting a new mat back and forth, unsure if it’s really worth the investment. Go ahead and do yourself the favor of getting the most out of your yoga practice with a yoga mat.