Updated: Feb 20, 2022
One of the many side effects of Covid19 is now that we Yogis need to have our own yoga accessories because we can no longer share them or use the ones at the Yoga studios for hygiene purposes. This can be overwhelming and confusing for a beginner. There are so many yoga accessories in the market blocks, rugs, mats, round/cube/cylinder pillows, straps, blankets, balls etc. There are so many types of yoga which require different accessories. So many materials. So many brands.
So should you just buy some random stuff you saw in a yoga studio after checking the minimum 4 stars criteria and quickly going through some random reviews?
No. Don't be a sheep. If you are a perfectly healthy person below the age of 60, you don't need any props/equipment. All you need is a good yoga mat. Yoga props were invented to help people who have special needs or suffer from disabilities or illness or had an operation, etc. But nowadays, whether you need it or not, yoga studios and yoga videos market the use of props.
That being said, lets quickly go through a super quick checklist which you should keep in mind while buying a Yoga mat.
(1) Grip Grip Grip!
Increased stickiness and texture reduces the slipping and sliding on the mat. Look for a rubber yoga mat that has a raised pattern or a cork yoga mat with a rubber back.
TIP: Best pose to check the grip is Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward dog pose). In this pose, your palms and feet must not slip on the mat.
In the market, you can get mat thicknesses from 3mm to 15mm. The standard thickness is 6mm. Thinner mats weigh less and are travel friendly. Thicker mats are more comfortable and gentler on your joints.
TIP: Best pose to check whether the thickness of the mat is sufficient is Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose or Diamond Pose). Feel the comfort level on your stretched feet. Try poses on the mat where you need to put pressure on your elbows or knees.
A standard yoga mat is 5.6 ft (173 cm) long and 2 ft (61 cm) wide, which may not be long enough if you are on the taller side. You may find your feet and head hanging off the mat when you lay down or even move into Astangasana. It is no fun to place your feet, palms or head on the dirty floor. Longer mats (XL-size) are readily available in the market for taller individuals and they are usually longer than 6 ft (183 cm). Better a little longer than a little shorter.
TIP: One must fit head to feet on the yoga mat during Shavasana (Corpse Pose).
If possible try before you buy. If you liked any particular mat in a Yoga studio, call them and ask for the brand, thickness and price range of their mats. A good Yoga studio will always be happy to help you.
Pay a little more and buy a good quality mat. A good quality mat makes your Yoga experience safe, comfortable and relaxed. Most of the yoga mats these days come with a Yoga mat carry handle, so definitely check for that. Last but not the least, according to your lifestyle and taste you might also want to consider the weight, eco-friendliness and style or design of the mat.