How to purchase and care for a yoga mat.

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P1010845 1024x575 How to purchase and care for a yoga mat.

15 years ago, I took my first yoga class and borrowed a mat- it smelled like feet and I couldn’t stop thinking about the last person’s sweat touching my face as I folded into child’s pose.

I bought a mat on my way out, and haven’t borrowed one since.

Depending on what type of yoga you practice, there are many mats available:

eco-friendly, extra thick, travel weight, and anti-bacterial to name a few.

IMG 9439 2 200x300 How to purchase and care for a yoga mat.

Originally, yogis practiced on the floor, but mat choices are now the equivalent of ordering a tricked-out coffee at Starbucks.

For most regular yoga classes, such as Vinyasa, Anusara, Iyengar, or restorative yoga, you can use any of the mats I suggest here, it’s more of a preference when it comes to material, color, weight, and price.

What I will tell you, as with most things, you get what you pay for.

You can find a cheap PVC mat for 10 bucks, but it will smell toxic, you will slip all over, and it will start to rip after a month or so.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a mat:

How much do you sweat, how often do you practice, will you travel with it, do you care about the environment, what type of yoga do you practice, and how much can you spend?

The following is a list of my favorite mats to practice with- I know it’s excessive, but it’s my equivalent of a “working woman’s” shoe collection.

Kulae- Elite hot yoga mat: This mat is perfect for hot yoga classes, because it combines the function of a traditional mat with incredible absorbability. I love that you don’t need a towel on top. Thankfully, it’s also eco-friendly, so it won’t end up in a landfill. $77


IMG 0092 300x200 How to purchase and care for a yoga mat.Prana- Revolution eco-mat – Made without toxic glues, the mat is heat-laminated for added durability. This mat is wider than most, so it gives you more room to move around. It’s extra sticky, and gives great support. I love how it feels on your hands and feet in downdog. Be warned, it’s heavy. $89

 

Jade Harmony Mat- With this open cell, natural rubber mat, say goodbye to slippage, even when sweaty. This yoga mat “changed my practice” 9 years ago- it even keeps your
elbows planted in shoulderstand. $55

IMG 0075 300x200 How to purchase and care for a yoga mat.

Manduka PROmat- With a non-slip fabric–like finish, this yoga mat is luxuriously dense for unparalleled cushioning. It’s beloved by many yoga teachers for it’s cushioning, and it’s the only mat with a lifetime guarantee- who doesn’t love that! $84

IMG 0098 300x200 How to purchase and care for a yoga mat.

 

Lululemon ‘The Mat” -Made of natural rubber, with a polyurethane coating, this mat will prevent sliding through the sweatiest of classes. Luckily, the antimicrobial additive prevents mold and mildew- and it comes not only in black, but soothing pastel colors. $68

Hugger mugger Earth Elements- This mat is made of TPE and is non- toxic. Its soft surface provides great traction for any type of yoga, and because it has a great dry-sticky surface, your hands will stay put. $53

If you practice hot yoga, you’ll definitely want a towel over your mat once you begin to drip: How to purchase and care for a yoga mat.
Any towel will do, but I love the Magic Carpet from Spiritual Gangster-they come in the best colors and you don’t slide all over like on other mat covers.

Once that mat gets all sweaty, and yes- smelly, what do you do?

Most people suggest cleaning a yoga mat in the tub, which to me, is akin to wrestling an alligator.

Make your life easy, and if the label says you can, toss it in a washing machine- just make sure you put it on cold, and the HANDWASH setting.

Do not put it in the dryer, hang it up over your shower door, or outside in the sun. Otherwise, wipe it down at least once a week with mat spray, or tea tree oil and water. You can take this out of it’s too long

If you don’t own your own mat, I highly recommend reading this NYT article, advising against shared yoga mats, asap- it’s not just about smelly feet.

What to do with your yoga mat when it starts to “shed?”

  • Line your trunk with it to keep grocery bags and plants from spilling
  • Use it as padding under your knees when you garden
  • Cut it up and make “bases” for your kids in the backyard

Do you have a favorite yoga mat I haven’t tried, or a great way to recycle your old mat?

Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Danielle is the founder of Xen Strength Yoga with Weights and author of The Happiness Zone with Dr. Barry Sears; coming 2014.  Shes practiced/taught yoga for 15+ years and just launched an online yoga with weights teacher training.

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Comments

  1. says

    i’m guilty of buying pretty cheap yoga mats. i go through phases with going to classes so sometimes i go more frequently than others. i’m super guilty of not cleaning my mat… #imgross lol

  2. says

    Thank you for this. I pretty much look for a thicker mat (more cushion = easier on my knees) and buy what I can find around here as I live in a small city and there are not a lot of options. Now I know what to look for!

    And especially thanks for the suggestions on what to do with old yoga mats. :)

  3. says

    I got my first mat the day I first met Miz & her daughter. All of which were awesome. I didn’t realize there are so many options & I love the reuse ideas for retired mats. Thanks

  4. says

    I’ve been given two, so I didn’t have the choice but I think they’re both pretty good quality. I have to confess, I never thought about cleaning it! I guess that shows how often I use it… :)

  5. says

    Love all these tips! I just got my first yoga mat in a swag bag and was curious how to take care of it.

    Have a great weekend!

  6. says

    I have been really thinking about taking up yoga lately. I have not even started thinking about yoga mats and with your comment about borrowing one, I am thinking I definitely need to purchase one. I had no idea there was so much to consider when purchasing a mat. I was just going to go out and pick the mat that seemed most comfortable and appealing to me. Thanks for giving me more to consider when I do decide to go get a mat.

  7. says

    I bought a cheap yoga mat once, and then never again. I would say it is definitely worth it to invest in a good mat. I just never know what I need. I’m still new to yoga and to be honest I was just confused when I bought my first mat. This really helps! Thanks for the post.

  8. says

    Wiping down mats with a solution of half water half white vinegar is an eco friendly way of keeping them clean and fresh. Also, try sprinkling some baking soda in your gym bag to keep it smelling fresh.

  9. says

    I have a Jade Harmony Mat. I totally love it. Never heard of others you posted here. I have been doing yoga for 2 years now and I believe that if we really want to be fit, yoga is the best. In line with this, we need to have a nice yoga mat.

  10. says

    Since it had been a while, and my mat had been to a few hot yoga classes since then, I knew I needed something with a little more sanitizing power, but natural enough to protect my mat.

  11. says

    Great article, I think I might start with the Kulae, I’m new to yoga and looking forward to experiencing what it’s all about. I’ve been hesitant to try it because I’m a guy and what not but I think flexibility is important and helps in other aspects of fitness. Thanks for the help!

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