The most basic and essential piece of equipment that is needed in the practice of yoga is a good quality mat. A yoga mat is one thing that everyone needs, from beginners to yoga to the most experienced practitioners.
Yoga mats vary widely from the cheap ones available at any discount store to the ecologically friendly, and often expensive, brands sold in some studios and online. A cheap mat will do the job and can be found for under $20.
Some yoga practitioners, particularly those attempting to lead a natural and chemical free lifestyle, refuse to use the cheaper yoga mats. One problem is the quality and thinness of the material. Another problem is the chemicals used in creating the mats.
Natural yoga mats can be found that are made of natural materials, such as cork. While these are great from an environmental and health standpoint, they are expensive. In addition, they often don’t hold up as well and won’t last as long as cheaper mats.
Rubber is one natural material that is both durable and sustainable. While these are more expensive than the cheap yoga mats, they will last longer than porous natural materials.
One thing to consider is how often you practice yoga. The more use the mat will get, the more important it is to select a material that will stand up to heavy use and not fall apart after four classes.
Another thing to consider is your personal level of dedication to yoga. Have you never taken a class in your life? Then you may not want to invest the money in an expensive mat until you are sure you will stick with it. On the other hand, if you’ve been practicing for a while and love it, you may be more willing to spend a bit more. Sometimes good deals can be found online, some with free shipping.
Other factors to consider include body size and the style of yoga. For example, taller people will want a longer mat that will accommodate their size and allow for performing the asanas correctly and comfortably.
The type of yoga is also important, since more strenuous forms may require a thicker mat. Your yoga instructor is a good source of information and advice if you aren’t sure what you need. The final consideration is your own preference. The material, style and color should fit your personal preference, since you will be the one using it on a regular basis.