Your ideal yoga mat probably isn’t the cheap waffle weave mat found at most big box stores. An inexpensive mat won’t hold up for those who plan to practice several times a week. Your chaturangas and sun salutations easily create holes in the surface and the texture will start to wear, creating something akin to a Slip ‘N Slide.
We want to pair our practice with a durable, stylish, easy-to-clean, and eco-friendly yoga mat. The perfect mat won’t distract you from your practice; but rather, bring you closer to it, allowing you to enjoy your downward dog without having to worry about sliding across the floor.
There are several options when it comes to finding the right yoga mat for you. In this post we’ve reviewed what’s trending so you’ll be better able to find the best mat for your practice and personal preferences.
The Classic Sticky Mat
These mats are made from a PVC material with a slightly sticky surface that will help you to grip your mat, and your mat grip to the floor. While PVC may be affordable, it’s not the most eco-friendly option. PVC contains toxins that don‘t allow the mat to be recycled. This means that when you need to throw it out, the mat will sit in a landfill. Additionally, over time the PVC will release [dioxin](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride#Dioxins, a cancer-causing substance.
These mats have more options when it comes to thickness than other mats on the market. You can usually choose from ⅛” (3 mm) to ¼” (6.35 mm) mat depending on your preference. The thicker mat will give you a little more support, but the thinner option is lighter and can be great for travel.
If you’re new to the world of yoga and want to give your practice a trial run before investing in a higher quality mat, these are a great option. If you’re already a seasoned yogi or are looking for something more environmentally conscious, there are a few other options available!
The Natural Mat
These mats are exclusively made out of biodegradable materials like cotton, hemp, and jute (rough fiber made from the roots of plants). Unlike the PVC mats, these are great for the environment! (No more worrying about your mat releasing any gross toxins!) These mats are known for their absorption, so you know you won’t spend an entire hot yoga session in a pool of your own sweat. Traction is not ideal when it comes to cotton and hemp mats, though — jute mats are slightly better, but the rough texture isn’t the right fit for every yogi. The best part of cotton and hemp mats: they can be thrown straight into the washing machine. This is a big plus because you know you won’t be touching dirt and germs everytime you lay out your mat.
Because these mats are made out of natural, biodegradable materials they are not very thick. If you’re practicing on a hard surface such as wood this can be very uncomfortable and may not properly protect your joints. While super convenient for travel, consistent practice will quickly wear them out.
For the natural yogis out there, these mats are a decent option. They’re made of renewable resources, easy to wash, and they absorb sweat nicely. Jute is the longest-lasting of the natural materials, followed by hemp, and then cotton mats; however, it is important to keep in mind none of them are known for their durability. If you struggle with injury or have sensitive joints, we highly recommend looking into other mat options.
The Best of Both Worlds
Each of the mats I’ve covered so far have their pros and cons; some aren’t eco-friendly but are extremely cushioned and supportive, while others are super eco-friendly but hard on your joints. What most people want and need is something that falls smack dab in the middle…
Big Raven Yoga Mats are an example of a mat that fits right into that “middle” category. These mats are made out of 100% biodegradable natural tree rubber. Just like the natural mats these mats won’t be pumping yuck out into the world for years to come. But, unlike cotton and hemp mats, a Big Raven Yoga mat will still grip to the floor, keeping you firmly in place as you transition from asana to asana. The surface of the mat is a colorfast, microfiber synthetic top. That’s a lot of words to dissect, but the gist is that you’re getting a mat that grips to your hands and feet, is smooth to the touch, and will retain its color in all conditions (even the washing machine!) (And don’t let the word “synthetic” scare you off — our synthetics are made from recycled — and recyclable — polyesther.)
These mats are 5mm thick, so a little under ⅕”. It’s a bit thicker than some of the other mats on the market, but those few millimeters can change your life! The Big Raven Yoga mat will cushion and support you on all types of surfaces: hardwood, concrete, beach, forest — you name it!
Not only are Big Raven Yoga mats eco-friendly and super supportive, each one features amazing one-of-a-kind artwork. You can put the mat in the washer and the design will stay just as vibrant as the day you took it out of the box. With six different collections, each with a distinct personality, it’s easy to find a design you’ll love!
The Final Verdict
At the end of the day…
A yoga mat should be a lot of things, but most importantly, you should love it. Your mat should make you excited for your next class and itching to roll it out week after week. Overall, I prefer a mat that lands somewhere in the middle of the pack, something that’s supportive, eco-friendly, and 100% machine-washable. While Big Raven Yoga mats are a bit of a luxury investment, their durability is worth the extra price.
No matter which type of mat you choose, I hope you‘re able to gain a clearer picture of what type of yoga mat fits your own personal practice, and that you’ll love for years to come!