Yoga requires very few tools or pieces of equipment. In fact, apart from yourself and some comfortable attire, all you really need for a quality yoga session is a yoga mat. Although these flimsy foam strips look like they should cost $5 each, mats can be a pricy investment ranging from $15 to almost $200 if you’re getting a real high-quality mat. But what makes them so expensive?
Why are yoga mats so expensive? Yoga mats are so expensive because the materials used to make non-slip, long lasting yoga mats are costly. Cheap yoga mats are typically made with polyvinyl chloride foam (PVC). As a result, they are often slippery, easily worn out, and can damage the environment.
Read on to learn more about the various factors that cause yoga mats to be so expensive and why these mats are your best option over the cheaper, low-grade PVC foam mats.
Factors That Increase Yoga Mat Prices
There is a myriad of reasons why the high-end yoga mats most yogis recommend are so expensive. It is not unrealistic for individuals just starting their yoga journey to seriously question if a $100+ mat is truly necessary.
Here is a list of common factors attributed to the significant price of most yoga mats and why they are worthwhile investments.
Material is one of the most influential factors in determining a yoga mat’s overall cost. Cheap, low-grade yoga mats are typically made with polyvinyl chloride foam (PVC) because this material is inexpensive, lightweight, and moderately durable.
However, because of the cheap PVC foam, these mats tend to deteriorate relatively quickly and don’t provide much support in terms of the other factors on this list.
PVC foam is also not bio-degradable or recyclable in most cases, and so, when you’re done with your cheap yoga mat, you have no choice but to throw it out. Since these mats don’t naturally deteriorate well, they are far more likely to damage the environment than the alternative materials used in high-end yoga mats.
Environmental and user-friendly yoga mats are often more expensive because they are made from pricier materials, such as recycled rubber, jute, and organic or natural cotton. These materials are chosen for ultimate functionality and reduce environmental damage since they are often made of recycled materials and can be recycled again if necessary.
Maximum Durability, Thickness, and Comfort
Yoga mats can be used for a wide range of physical exercises. Some individuals strictly use this equipment for yoga poses and sessions that physically stress balance and flexibility. Others might use the mat as a sort of cushion for their workouts.
Because these mats are subjected to a great deal of impact and compression, they need to be extremely durable for maximum longevity. If the yoga mats aren’t made of durable materials, such as recycled rubber, then they are likely to collapse more quickly and provide a very minimum cushion for your yoga or workout sessions.
Most expensive yoga mats will stress having ultra-dense material designs that optimize cushion and comfort for their users. Apart from the material make-up, they can achieve this by choosing the best thickness for their yoga mats.
The typical high-end yoga mat is about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker. Choosing the proper thickness for your yoga mat is essential to injury prevention as well as stability.
Cheaper mats tend to be thinner than 1/8 inch, which means it is easier for you to damage your knees or other body parts that use the mat to mitigate impact. However, you don’t want your mat to be too thick, or you might have trouble keeping your balance since it inhibits your ability to effectively connect with the floor.
High-end yoga mats will find the perfect in-between regarding mat thickness while also ensuring proper cushioning for high impact activity and constant compression.
All of these design features tend to increase the product’s overall price, particularly if the company knows their yoga mat is extremely durable and will last you years, which is why many have lifetime warranties.
As is the case with any workout equipment, yoga mats can get pretty gross after an intense or fulfilling session.
Since you are likely to be sweating during your sessions and using different parts of your body to stand or balance on the mat, they can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria. This is especially true if users forget to clean their mats regularly.
Because high-end yoga mat companies know that most consumers don’t want to constantly wipe down their yoga mats after each session, they create high-quality mats with antimicrobial properties. This means the mat is designed to reduce bacterial growth within the material throughout its use.
This can also be achieved through the use of a closed-cell mat design. Ultimately, there are two types of yoga mat designs, open-cell, and closed-cell.
An open-cell design is typically used for cheaper mats and means that the mat is far more likely to be porous and absorb water, sweat, or other bodily fluids. Because these mats are so absorbent, you need to clean them thoroughly, or else they become a breeding ground for mass amounts of bacteria. However, of the two, this is the cheapest design.
A closed-cell design is far denser than an open-cell design, which means that it is less porous and has a more impervious surface. As a result, it is less absorbent, which reduces bacterial growth significantly. This design also makes these mats more durable, which is another reason it is used in expensive, high-end yoga mats.
Because most high-quality yoga mats opt for a closed-cell design to ensure maximum longevity, hygiene, and easy cleanup, they tend to be significantly pricier than cheaper options that prefer the open-cell design instead.
The final feature that can make an astounding difference in your yoga sessions as well as the yoga mat’s price is the mat’s grip.
If you’ve ever bought a cheap yoga mat, you’ll notice that they tend to slide around rather easily. This is often because these mats aren’t made with any sort of grip, so their foam material can’t keep a proper hold on the ground while you move.
Not only can this be irritating to have your mat sliding about every time you change an exercise or position, but it can also be extremely dangerous. There are some positions and exercises where individuals rely on their yoga mat to have a firm grip on the ground to help support their weight or hold.
There are also some instances where balance is key, and if the yoga mat is sliding, maintaining proper balance can be extremely difficult.
Many yoga mats are significantly priced because they are designed with a non-slip surface or some type of grip within the material to ensure the mat stays firmly in place at all times.
Not only does this help reduce wear and tear because the mat isn’t sliding about, but it also reduces the risk of injury and improves overall functionality. You’ll have a hard time finding a $100 yoga mat that doesn’t grip to the floor like a suction cup.
Not all yoga mats are expensive. You can find cheap ones that won’t cost you more than $20. However, yoga mats are rare in that there is very little range in their pricing. You either buy a cheap $20 mat or invest in a high-quality $100+ mat.
There is such a drastic jump because high-quality mats prioritize the environment, functionality, durability, comfort, hygiene, and safety in their designs. All of which increase their overall price significantly.
However, because these mats are so well-made, they are often worth the investment to have one high-end yoga mat that will last you 5+ years rather than buying a cheap one every few months for years on end.