Picture this. You are in yoga class and the teacher guides you into a side plank pose known in Sanskrit as Vasisthasana. The class is heated and you feel the sweat pooling beneath your palm. Your supporting hand begins slipping and suddenly you feel your supporting foot beginning to slide off your yoga mat. Your back begins to arch so you try to compensate by rounding your spine to avoid further slipping. You have completely come out of proper alignment in this pose, putting yourself at risk for injury. Furthermore, your mind is now completely focused on how to keep yourself from slipping and falling. You are absolutely taken away from the mindfulness, steady breathing and the sense of calm you should be feeling. Can you relate?
I know I’ve been in this position before and in that moment, our first reaction isn’t to think, “Shoot, I should have gone with the high quality yoga mat.” Instead, we think to ourselves, “Wow, yoga is terrible. This is so uncomfortable… what did I get myself in to?!” We automatically think that yoga is to blame and maybe it isn’t for you. We fail to consider that perhaps if we had the proper equipment (in this case, a non-slip, high-quality yoga mat), we might not be in this position. And if we weren’t in this position in the first place, we wouldn’t have this negative mindset that is completely the opposite of what we are trying to achieve!
As a yoga teacher, I often get asked the question, “Is there really a difference between various yoga mats and why the big price fluctuation?” I want to raise my hands and shout heck YES there is! Instead, I politely explain that yes, there is in fact a huge difference between a good yoga mat and mats that simply act as a placeholder for doing your workout without offering any other benefits. A low quality yoga mat can actually create a more accident-prone environment and lead to injury. For safety reasons alone, a good mat is a great investment. More than that, though, I like to educate my students on what the benefits are in choosing a good quality yoga mat. By exploring the importance of a good mat, it can positively impact your yoga practice and help you feel a difference in no time.
Before you start thinking I have a biased opinion, I will admit that when I first got really in to yoga, I was using a $15 yoga mat from TJ Maxx for a full year, doing yoga nearly 5 times a week! Guys, I am a bargain shopper through and through. I will price check before I buy anything and am always looking for the best deals. In fact, I even used this cheap mat throughout my yoga teacher training while everyone around me had high-quality products. That’s is how stubborn I am. You see, at that point I didn’t value a good quality yoga mat because I didn’t understand the benefits it would offer my body and overall well-being.
Hear me when I tell you, when it comes to products that significantly impact your health, safety and/or body, do not skimp. Looking back, I definitely wish I hadn’t for various reasons, but mainly because my mat was causing physical injury in my wrists and knees.
In light of Pogamat launching yet another amazing yoga mat product this summer (with lighter designs and more padding), let me explain why it is so important to invest in a quality yoga mat and what to look for when purchasing your first mat or replacing your old one!
How I Personally Realized the Importance of Investing in a Good Quality Mat
I really noticed the importance of a good yoga mat when I started teaching classes at an apartment complexes offering yoga to its tenants. I had many students who were trying yoga for the first time or hadn’t practiced in a while. The apartment’s gym facility offered small lightweight exercise mats so newbies or those who did not own a mat would often end up using these. When I would forget my own mat, I would grab one of these mats for demoing poses. When using these mats myself, I realized how difficult it made getting into and out of poses and holding poses.
For starters, they were much smaller than standard size mats. The ability to do a pose and have both feet on the mat posed a greater challenge. Secondly, they were so lightweight and flimsy that they would slide all over the place. I started to notice that I was using muscles in poses that I wouldn’t typically be using, just to stay in place. I began to realize that when I was distracted trying to keep my hands and feet in place, I couldn’t really focus on all the other components that go into one specific pose nor fully reap the benefits of that pose. It was then that I realized what a big difference a good mat made. I now preach to my students to invest in themselves by purchasing a quality yoga mat.
Common Complaints Found in Poor Quality Yoga Mats
- Slippery surface even if you are not sweaty~ posing a danger if the mat slips out from under you or causes you to fall
- Poor durability~ mat starts to fall apart after 6 months or sooner
- Poor quality~ mat is stretchy and tears or rips in half during light use or in basic poses
- Pieces of the mat begin to come off~ a cheap mat will begin to come apart when your hands or feet get damp and stick to material
- Bad chemicals or formaldehyde-like odor~ does NOT dissipate over time
- Too thick~ makes poses unstable and difficult, or can cause joint pain
- Too much cushioning~ featuring the extra 1/2″ of cushion makes it harder to balance and ends up compressed and hard
- Bad materials used~ PVC and other materials are bad to come in contact with, ingest and bad for the environment
- Poor materials used~ causes squeaky noise throughout practice
- Poor packaging- leaves a sticky residue or permanent dents in mat
- No yoga strap included with mat
A Few Things to Consider Before Buying a Yoga Mat
I will begin by noting that yoga mats are not a one size fits all product. Everyone has different preferences and needs, therefore the yoga mat that is right for you may look different from the yoga mat that is right for your fellow yogis. Every yoga mat style and material caters to different needs and goals. Subtle design changes can either help or hurt your unique movement patterns and usual aches and pains in any pose.
Something that may never cross your mind when purchasing a yoga mat are the materials they are made of. Some mats contain chemicals found in the materials or in the production-making process. Cheap, generic mats are usually PVC mats with harmful chemicals like phthalates and other cancer-causing, bad-for-the-environment chemicals. You want to avoid these materials coming in contact with your skin or inhaling these chemicals as you practice.
***Pogamat prides itself on the eco-friendly, odorless products it offers, made of non-toxic synthetic materials (no latex, silicone, phthalates or toxins) and produced through eco-friendly manufacturing techniques.
Where you do yoga will also depend on the type of mat you use. Perhaps you have a mat that you use specifically for your home practice and another for the studio. If you prefer an at-home yoga practice, size and portability are not going to be an important factor to consider (see our previous post for the benefits of having a home yoga practice). In this instance, you’ll want to focus on padding and safety; size and weight will not matter as much. If you strictly practice out of a studio or somewhere outside of your home, size and portability are important considerations.
Before making a purchase, consider the type of yoga you will be practicing. If you will be focusing on yin and restorative classes where there will be less movement and weight-bearing poses, you may want something slightly thicker and more padded. Slip prevention is not as crucial. On the flip side, if you will be doing more Power Yoga, Bikram, or Hot Yoga classes where you are working up a sweat, be sure to choose a non-slip mat for good traction.
Also, if you are concerned about the length or width of your mat or just generally prefer a longer/wider mat, you may want to consider a longer length mat.
***Pogamat Wanted To Make Yoga Mats Available To Everyone Of All Sizes So They Made Them Extra Long And Extra Wide
Finally, wouldn’t it make more sense to make a one-time investment up-front and get a sturdy, premium yoga mat? Instead, buying cheap means your mat is more likely to wear out quickly or rip within months (or less). You end up purchasing multiple mats within a short amount of time and spending just as much as if you had made the initial investment up front. It makes more sense to bite the bullet and pay the extra money up front. Remember, you get what you pay for. After all, yoga is great because there aren’t many other equipment costs, unless of course you also want to sport the trendiest clothing. Hey, we’re not judging!
*** Pogamat offers a lifetime warranty on yoga and exercise mats against manufacturers defects in materials and craftsmanship. They stand behind the quality of their products and will replace your mat free of charge.
With all that in mind, let’s look at Pogamat’s products and see why their quality is second to none…
Pogamat Yoga Mat Options
The XL mat is single person mat that is made extra long and extra wide. The XXL cardio mat is fantastic if you’ll be practicing with a family member, friend or even your furry companion! These mats are fantastic for an at-home yoga practice, depending on how much space you have. They offer undeniable quality with their high density, anti-tear, slip resistant material. It is truly the sturdiest mat I’ve come across and is coined as a cardio mat for its extreme durability. You can even wear shoes and work out without damaging the mat!
This mat is everything when it comes to being able to completely hone in on your practice. You can focus your mind on getting all the benefits out of a pose because you aren’t worrying about slippage. You will almost immediately notice your practice getting stronger and your ability to hold poses for longer periods of time. Something to keep in mind is that these mats are quite heavy, weighing 8.5lbs for XL and 17lbs for XXL. This is why it is extremely durable but might not be ideal if you’re commuting to work with your mat. It’s also not as soft and cushy as Pogamat’s alternative mat options, so let’s take a look at those….
Pogamat’s yoga options also offer individual mats or the larger option for more space or working out with a partner. The Pogamat XL yoga mat is the most comfortable memory foam mat that you will ever use. It is soft and padded without jeopardizing durability and support! The yoga mats feature thick memory foam but stays within the desired level of thickness at 7mm (just over a 1/4″). They offer just the right amount of cushion without sacrificing balance. This mat offers incredible comfort & support to keep your body healthy and injury free. It also offers a two sided surface; the top consists of a soft texture for added comfort, extra grip and cushioning to protect your joints. The bottom features a large honeycomb groove anti-slip pad for grip and comfort.
There are the many things to соnѕidеr bеfоrе buying a yoga mat that suits your needs. At the end of the day, you want yoga to leave you feeling rejuvenated in both the body and mind. Be sure to check out Pogamat for a reliable mat that will go above and beyond your expectations.