Yoga Mats

Before I started learning yoga, I was curious why is there a need for yoga mat? Can’t we just perform yoga without a mat?  I started practising yoga with a normal mat (mat not meant for yoga) and within a short while, I’ve bought  3 more yoga mats of different made.

I’ve come to understand that yoga mat is to prevent injury during yoga practise by providing the following benefits:

1. cushioning – to protect your sensitive joints (e.g. knee caps) and bones (e.g spine) where you perform poses like Ustrasana (camel), Garbha Pindasana B (rolling on the spine), etc

2. posture grips –  to avoid sudden falls from poses and extreme stress on muscles due to slipping (loosing grip) off the floor

There are many different kinds of yoga mat available in the market. I’ve learnt that those simple yoga mats (usually cost less than $40 locally) uses simple rubber material which could not provide good gripping although it could provide sufficient cushioning. These mats will come with the following characteristics:

a. very soft materials – (i) less effort is required to compress the material and the impression made on the material will take a while to go away; (ii) it absorbs water and the impression made on the material when it is wet will remain until the water dries up, this means that the cushioning effect has gone on those wet areas

b. insufficient grips – some surface may looks and feel sticky but when you compress it with your thumb and you could easily rub you thumbs across the surface, it also gets very slippery when wet

c. non-durable – the soft beads of the material will come off easily after a short while

Such simple yoga mats will not provide you with adequate comfortness and protection from injury.

For beginner who is going to purchase a yoga mat, a general guidelines for your considerations will be:

1. above S$40

2. test the grip and material of the mat before purchasing by compressing the mat with your thumb and middle finger, you should require more strength to fully compress the material and the impression made on the material should go away almost immediately when you release your thumb, and you should also find it difficult to rub your thumb across the surface

3. choose at least 5mm thickness for comfortable cushioning

4. if you sweat alot during yoga practise, get a towel to place on top of the mat, because any mat when wet, the grip will get less efficient

5. if you are practising Ashtanga Yoga, get a heavier mat so that the mat will not move while performing Vinyasa

Lastly, yoga practice does not restricted on the mat, it can be done outside the mat as long as the poses or stretches can be done safely and comfortably.

(I’ve prepared many images but unfortunately I do not know how to insert images here…)