Yoga has become increasingly popular in today's society. For a lot of people, yoga serves as a retreat from their busy lives.
If you’re looking to get in on the trend and reap the benefits of practicing yoga, one important thing you need to have is reliable yoga equipment. The most important thing you can have is a good quality mat that can help you enjoy the benefits of yoga to the fullest.
If you don’t know where to start when looking for the right yoga mat, this article can guide you. This article outlines the importance of yoga mats and what factors to consider when shopping for your yoga mat.
But before delving into that, you must first know the benefits of yoga and how it can help you enjoy a healthier and happier life.
Yoga: An Overview
The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word “yuji, which means “union.” More specifically, yoga refers to the union of body and mind.
But, this doesn’t mean that yoga is only beneficial to your mind and body. Yoga is also about the unifying of breath, energy, and soul.
Yoga is an exercise that aims to connect the mind, body, and spirit. This is achieved through meditation, different body postures, and controlled breathing.
Because of the health benefits associated with this practice, therapists recommend the addition of yoga to their patient's medical and surgical therapies.
Benefits of Yoga
For several thousand years, yogis have been preaching the mental and physical benefits of practicing yoga. As the practice became more popular, researchers have taken a closer look at the effects of yoga on a person’s mental and physical health.
According to experts, yoga helps improve balance, flexibility, strength, and endurance. It can also help people cultivate mindfulness through meditation. Read on to know some of the other health benefits of practicing yoga.
Yoga relieves back pain
Yoga is as good as basic stretching for easing pain and improving mobility in people with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
If you suffer from back pain, gentler types of yoga, like Hatha or Iyengar, can help. However, it’s recommended to check with your doctor before starting a type of physical activity if you do have an existing back problem or other serious medical condition.
Yoga enhances strength, balance, and flexibility
Yoga involves slow movements and deep breathing exercises. This increases your blood flow and warms up your muscles.
Yoga exercises also include holding a pose for a couple of seconds, which can help you improve your strength and flexibility.
Yoga gives more energy and brightens your mood
Practicing yoga can provide you with increased mental and physical energy. It can also increase alertness and enthusiasm and helps you manage negative feelings.
Yoga can help relieve arthritis symptoms
A review of 11 studies showed that gentle yoga is effective in easing the discomfort from tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis.
Practicing yoga regularly can help keep muscles toned, joints flexible, and weight under control. These are things that can help arthritis patients manage pain.
Yoga can improve heart health
Practicing yoga every day may improve heart health by reducing levels of stress and body-wide inflammation. Yoga can address some of the factors that contribute to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight.
Physical activity, breathing exercises, and meditation, all of which are used in practicing yoga, are all known to help resolve cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Yoga can help promote good sleep
Researchers observed that bedtime yoga can relax you and can prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Doing relaxing postures, such as the forward fold and lying on your back with your feet up the wall can help you relax shortly before bedtime. These asanas or poses can help calm your body and your mind.
Restorative yoga is also highly recommended for those who want to get a good night’s sleep.
Yoga helps in stress management
According to the National Institutes of Health, yoga can help you manage stress. NIH also stated that yoga supports mental health, weight loss, mindfulness, healthy eating, and quality sleep.
What Is A Yoga Mat Used For?
A yoga mat provides extra cushioning and traction while doing yoga. The first official yoga mat was developed in 1982 by a yoga teacher named Angela Farmer. Since then, the yoga mat has become a staple of most people’s yoga practice.
A yoga mat makes it easier to practice yoga asanas safely and comfortably. The mat resembles a simple sleeping mat and it functions as a non-slip, soft underlay during yoga practice.
This mat typically measures around 72 inches long and 24 inches wide. But, manufacturers created wider variations to support a wider range of activities. In terms of thickness, yoga mats can range from 2 millimeters to 7 millimeters thick.
Yoga mats usually have padding for comfort, grip, and hygiene reasons. Read on to know the importance of using yoga mats while practicing yoga.
Importance of Yoga Mats During Yoga
Reduces chances of injury
Although usually recommended as a relaxation technique, yoga can be rigorous at times. As with any exercise, doing something wrong can result in a potential injury.
Slipping is the most common cause of injury when doing yoga. Using a sticky mat can address this issue and reduce your chances of injury while stretching.
If you’re new to yoga, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable while holding a pose, stretching, and breathing. This is common especially for people with knee and joint conditions.
With a good yoga mat, you can feel more comfortable during the practice. High-quality yoga mats can meet the needs of every individual, regardless of their condition.
Keeps your body warm
With a yoga mat, you can stay warm because you don’t have to do yoga on the cold floor. A yoga mat can help you keep your energy flowing without getting cold.
When practicing yoga, it is important to have a stable surface where you can stretch and hold poses without the fear of slipping.
Yoga mats can provide added stability while you’re stretching, which is one of the best reasons to use them. The fabric has padding which can make yoga easier whether you're lying on your stomach or on your back.
Helps set up poses correctly
The main goal of practicing yoga is to stretch your muscles to their bounds while slowly building strength. It is very important to concentrate on distinct focal points while working on different poses for you to enjoy the benefits and avoid injury while practicing yoga.
If you’re relaxed, comfortable, and not constantly worried about injuring yourself while practicing yoga, you can be more focused on doing the poses correctly. A good yoga mat can help you achieve this focus.
Defines your space
Having a yoga mat can help you define your space. If you’re practicing yoga at home, the mat creates a controlled space, which can help you relax and be present in your body.
Typical Materials Used for Yoga Mats
Yoga mats come in various styles, colors, and patterns. Some manufacturers made mats from eco-friendly materials, while others designed products that are convenient to carry around and use anywhere.
Most manufacturers make yoga mats from one of four types of materials:
PVC – Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Considered as the all-rounders of yoga mats, PVC yoga mats are made from Poly-Vinyl Chloride resin powder and anti-tear fiber.
PVC mats absorb oil and sweat, making them good for gripping. However, this also attracts more bacteria, making them challenging to clean.
Because PVC is durable, you can move your yoga sessions outdoors or in heated rooms with a PVC yoga mat. The material is also elastic, making them easy to roll or fold.
One of the downsides of buying a PVC yoga mat is that it contains phthalates. Phthalates are substances mixed with plastics to increase their flexibility and durability.
The substance is also associated with having negative environmental effects during the manufacturing process of yoga mats. Phthalates are also linked with some health problems, including diabetes, endocrine disruption, obesity, and low immunity.
But, because PVC yoga mats are extremely durable, buyers usually don’t throw them away and replace them.
TPE – Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)
A thermoplastic elastomer, or thermoplastic rubber, is a new material being used to manufacture yoga mats. It is a copolymer class or a combination of polymers.
TPE is light, soft, odorless, and isn’t slippery. Yoga mats made with TPE are easy to clean and are resistant to certain microbes.
Compared to yoga mats derived from PVC, TPE yoga mats are more eco-friendly since they have increased recyclability. They’re also more flexible than PVC yoga mats.
However, TPE yoga mats aren’t durable and can dry out after some time.
Nevertheless, TPE yoga mats are popular in the US, Europe, and China. The demand can be attributed to the high performance and high environmental protection the product offers.
Rubber yoga mats are biodegradable, making them eco-friendly. Rubber mats also provide a good grip and absorption. Yoga mats with rubber have a balanced density. They aren’t too hard, yet not too soft.
Rubber yoga mats are manufactured with sustainability in mind, using natural rubber grown from renewable, rubber trees. Because of this, rubber mats are preferred choices when it comes to yoga practice. They are also anti-microbe, making them easier to clean.
One disadvantage of buying rubber yoga mats is that they can be heavy. But, this can be optimal if you’re practicing yoga at home.
If you’re allergic to latex, you may get an allergic reaction from rubber yoga mats. Rubber yoga mats are also pricier compared to TPE and PVC yoga mats.
Some yoga mat manufacturers use cork from the cork oak tree. This tree regenerates its stripped bark, making cork renewable and environmentally safe to use.
Cork is also resistant to bacterial growth, making cork yoga mats easy to maintain. The material’s antimicrobial properties kill germs and bacteria while preventing odors.
Cork yoga mats are also lightweight and portable, which makes them ideal for those always on the go. You can easily fit them in your car and lug them to and from your yoga studio.
Another advantage of choosing cork yoga mats is the products’ durability. Cork is durable and offers a lot of traction, whether wet or dry. When wet, cork mats offer additional traction compared to PVC, TPE, or Rubber mats which all get slippery.
At Corq Yoga, we use materials from the Quercus suber tree, which lives up to 200 years old. We also use sustainable and eco-friendly methods to harvest materials. Visit our website now and find out other benefits of using cork yoga mats.
How To Clean Your Yoga Mat?
Soak your yoga mat
Fill a huge basin with warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of dish soap for every 1 gallon of warm water you use. Once the water is bubbling from the soap, soak your mat in the water for 10 minutes. This can help remove oil and germs stuck in the mat.
Wash the mat with a soft cloth
Use a soft washcloth to scrub the mat thoroughly on both sides. Do this until you’ve removed any visible dirt on the mat.
Rinse your mat in clean water
Rinse your yoga mat with clean water. You may have to do this step several times to ensure that all the soap is completely drained away. You can stop when the water from your yoga mat is clear.
Remove excess water from your mat
Take a towel and dry the surface of the mat until most of the moisture is absorbed. After doing this, lay the mat on the ground and place a dry towel over it. Roll the mat with the towel to get rid of the remaining moisture in the mat. Do not wring your yoga mat to dry since that can damage or tear the mat.
Hang your mat to dry
After rolling your yoga mat with a towel, hang it up on a cloth hanger or your towel rack and wait for it to dry.
The material of your yoga mat is the most important factor you’ll need to consider when shopping for a yoga mat.
How to Choose the Right Yoga Mat
When buying a yoga mat, it’s important to buy a product that suits your priorities, lifestyle, values, practice, and budget.
Beyond having the color and pattern that you like, your yoga mat has to be storable, stable, comfortable, and portable. It’s also recommended to buy an environment-friendly yoga mat.
These properties of your yoga mat are all affected by how the mat is made and what material was it derived from.
To help you in your shopping journey, read on to know the important things to consider when buying a new yoga mat.
The material your yoga mat is made of affects the product’s texture, durability, stickiness, moisture absorption, eco-friendliness, and sponginess,
Most standard yoga mats are made of vinyl or PVC. Natural and recycled rubber, jute, organic cotton, and cork are among the more earth-friendly options.
But, if you’re allergic to latex, you should not use yoga mats derived from natural rubber. Thankfully, there are plenty of latex-free options for yoga mats out in the market.
Sticky mats help keep you from slipping and maintain your pose as you move. If you’re struggling to stay in your poses during your yoga exercises, you might need to replace your mat.
The thickness of your yoga mat is an important factor to consider when buying a mat.
If the mat is too thin, you may be uncomfortable when holding poses. On the other hand, too thick yoga mats may be difficult to carry around.
You need to consider how much room you have to store your yoga mat. You also need to remember how important portability is, so you might want to think carefully before buying the thickest options.
If you have to travel with your mat, you should opt for thinner and lighter yoga mats. But. if you practice yoga at home, it may be smarter to buy thicker mats.
The texture of your yoga mat affects how much slipping and sliding you do while holding poses. Texture also contributes to the overall feel of the mat, which is an aspect of comfort.
If you’re bothered by using mats made from non-recyclable materials, you can use earth-friendly mats. Some manufacturers use cork or natural rubber to make yoga mats. These mats may also include natural materials or components like jute or organic cotton.
Basic PVC yoga mats are typically more affordable. But, if you want your yoga mat to have patterns, premium thickness, antimicrobial properties, you may have to invest more money. Yoga mats that are eco-friendly also tend to be more pricey.
After taking into consideration the thickness, material, texture, stickiness, eco-friendliness, and price of the yoga mat you want, you can now think of the design and style you want. Take your pick of colors, patterns, designs, and prints.
Check Out Yoga Mats From Corq Yoga
At Corq Yoga, we make our collection of yoga mats using premium cork, sustainably harvested from Portugal.
We’re confident in declaring that cork makes the best yoga mats. The material has several properties that are perfect for manufacturing yoga mats, including:
- Easy to Clean
- Extra Cushion
Looking for your next yoga mat? Shop with us now and enhance your yoga experience with our high-quality cork yoga mats!
Ultimate Guide to Yoga Mats FAQs
Is it necessary to use a yoga mat for yoga?
You can do yoga without a yoga mat. But, before you try this, you must first know the advantage and disadvantages of not having one. Your need for a yoga mat ultimately depends on the type of yoga you want to practice and your padding, space, and hygiene needs.
What is the best material for a yoga mat?
A yoga mat made out of PVC can endure your use for more than a decade. However, PVC yoga mats aren’t eco-friendly. If you’re looking for more environment-friendly options, choose yoga mats made from rubber or cork.
What is the best yoga mat for beginners?
For beginners who’ve just started taking yoga classes, they can choose a mat that's about ⅛ inches thick. These mats are optimal for those who want a strong, flowing practice. The mats provide solid contact with the floor, which supports stability during a variety of poses.