In ancient times, the yogis in India intuitively knew that bodily posture profoundly affected a person’s state. They believed that tiny channels called nadis run through the human body, carrying a force called prana or life force.
And it was said that if these nadis were kept aligned, the prana flow would be smooth and unhindered, contributing to overall health. When these nadis get impeded, energy builds up, and we feel it as pressure.
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The idea of yoga is to counter these misalignments and bring the body back to its natural state. To do yoga comfortably, a good mat is an essential tool that a practitioner requires. There are diverse types of materials used to produce different kinds of yoga mats in the market, TPE, PVC, NBR, etc. This article will lay bare the different styles of yoga mats available.
We will go in-depth and talk about yoga mats like what you might use for hot yoga, just if you are confused about which yoga mat you should be using for your yoga practice. We will shed light on the different kinds of yoga mats available on the market durable. The price is not the only consideration when you are planning to purchase a yoga mat for a beginner or expert. You also want to take into consideration the types of exercise you will be using the mat for.
You should look into how long your mat is going to last, how eco-friendly your mat is, what is the thickness of your mat, whether your yoga mat is anti-skid, and if you sweat a lot, then it is good to buy a mat that will absorb a little bit of sweat as well. We will first discuss the different types of yoga mats available on the market and what they are made to avoid buying something potentially toxic and harmful to the environment.
PVC is probably the most popular type of mat material for yoga mats because it’s dirt cheap, extremely durable, and very easy to clean. PVC mats generally have a good grip and stickiness. The remarkable thing is that you can use them in almost any type of environment.
You can use them in yoga studios, take them outside, beach, rocks, grass, and it works perfectly. As I said, it’s straightforward to clean, take it into the shower, flush it with water, add a little bit of soap, and you are good to go.
As good as it sounds, there are lots of issues with PVC mats. The most crucial problem with PVC mats is the environmental factor. The production of PVC is a very chemically intensive process.
Studies state that PVC mats contain lead cadmium and other chemicals that can adversely affect your brain if you get exposed. The truth is that you can potentially become sick from doing yoga once in a while on a PVC mat.
Still, the problem is that these chemicals are used to manufacture a handful of products that you use every day, including furniture, car seats, shower curtains, shampoos, and nail polishes, which increases the risk of overexposure.
Suppose that is not enough to dissuade potential environment buffs from purchasing it. In that case, the fact that PVC is non-bio-degradable should be considered before buying PVC mats. Whenever you decide that it’s time for a new mat because you are sick and tired of your old PVC mat, remember that it will ultimately end up in a landfill for a couple of centuries.
They are skinny, so they might be fantastic on the floor because they don’t skid, and you might get a good grip, but they can be very thin. This might become problematic for people who have joint issues or looking for something with a bit more thickness. PVC mats are also not very durable. They can easily rip or tear and will quickly become useless.
If you’re looking for a yoga mat with a high durability level, you may want to pass on PVC and pick another material instead.
TEP stands for thermoplastic elastomer. It is a type of synthetic material that combines the features of rubber and plastic. Like PVC, TEP production is a chemically intensive process, but this material can be recycled.
TEP is also affordable, easy to clean, great to use indoors and outdoors, and will last for quite some time. TEP mats are manufactured using closed-cell technology, meaning that they will repel water, sweat, and repel dirt.
You never have to worry about getting these mats dirty because of how easy they are to clean. Feel to take them outside in your backyard or to a hot yoga class. You can quickly rinse off dirt or sweat with ease.
It is generally hard to control what kind of materials are going into your TEP mat. It’s a lesser evil when compared to PVC. The thickness of these mats is worth highlighting. The mat is about 10 mm. Anything from 0.6 upwards is excellent for cushioning for your knees. The thickness can also be an impediment when it comes to rolling the mat. They are tough to roll and carry.
NBR is a type of synthetic rubber, and these types of mats are usually very thick, around 10 millimeters or even more. Whenever you go to an average gym, you will probably find many NBR mats in the corner.
They are perfect for joint cushioning, so if you are someone who has any problems with your knees or with your wrists, NBR mats are fantastic for this. Furthermore, they are great for cold floors so, if you are taking a therapeutic class or want to stretch a little bit in a cold room, NRB mats are sure to keep you warm and cozy.
On the other hand, NBR mats are not ideal for short vinyasa classes or physically demanding classes because they are not suitable for balancing. Because of the thickness, you cannot feel the floor under your feet, so it may be hard to find your balance in some poses. They are also not the best mats for yoga that you can travel with.
Natural rubber mats are made from tree rubber and are considered non-toxic. These mats are biodegradable and reasonably durable. An excellent natural rubber mat will last you about two to three years, depending on how often you practice.
These types of yoga mats provide a good grip and the right amount of cushion. They are sticky, and they have excellent insulation properties.
Keep in mind that natural rubber has a very low sun and heat resistance, so if most of the time you are practicing outdoors, on a beach, or in a park where the sun is hot, it is probably not going to be the best choice for you. They can smell pretty bad out of the package, so you have to wait it out. The smell dissipates after a week or two.
These mats made from cork are a favorite amongst yogis. They are made of tree bark combined with natural rubber on the bottom for slip resistance. Cork is a fantastic eco-friendly material if harvested sustainably. It is renewable and biodegradable.
Most mats need breaking in as the synthetic mats where you have to wrap sold on to it or practice intensively for two weeks to rub off this oily surface on the top. If you are a fan of hot yoga or fast flooring classes where you sweat a lot, cork is impressive because the more you sweat, the better the grip gets, and it is excellent for working out on the beach or in the sun outdoors.
One of the few downsides of cork mats is some people may find them a bit tricky to clean. After all, cork absorbs the water and sweat. So, you may need an oil solution to clean your mat with from time to time. It needs some time to dry after washing, so give it a rest before rolling it up. Cheaper cork mats tend to chip and flake. If you want to invest in a cork mat, please do your research about the company and read the reviews because nobody wants flake mats.
Sometimes called yoguraks, they are made of cotton organic and hemp. These types of mats are usually handwoven by artisans instead of being made in a factory. They have a great natural texture and feel compared to even rubber. Many cotton hemp mats come in various colors and patterns that look amazing as a decoration for your apartment. They are relatively thin, easy to carry around, and they great for outdoor use because you can wash them in the machine.
Cotton and hemp mats are probably not the best choices for beginners. If you have never practiced yoga before or have never worked out a lot earlier, it’s best to avoid them because they are not as sticky as an ordinary mat.
They need a little more strength on your part in your fingers and your toes to keep yourself in those complicated poses using the strength of your body rather than keeping yourself in the downward dog using the stickiness of your surface. Keep in mind that cotton and hemp mats slide on smooth surfaces so, if you have a wooden floor or a tile, you probably need a natural rubber mat or any grippy texture to keep you from sliding around.
Jute mats are the newest type of yoga mat on the market. A few years back, they were very hard to come by. Nowadays, they are everywhere. Jute mats are probably one of the most environmentally friendly materials.
They are made of a renewable vegetable plant that needs no maintenance nor pesticides. It grows faster than bamboo, and the material is lightweight, it repels bacteria, and it is sticky. However, jute has a scratchy concrete surface so, if you have susceptible skin on your hands, you should keep that in mind.
Jute mats slide on smooth surfaces like cotton and hemp. Luckily, many companies who produce jut mats add a type of rubber to the yoga mat, for example, polyurethane, also call fake leather. It combines the plasticity of rubber with the strength of plastic polyurethane, which is highly durable, withstands heat, and is recycled.
Now you are fully informed about what to look for before purchasing a mat to begin your practice.