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Need A New Yoga Mat? Here Are 5 Things To Consider Before You Splurge

So! You've gotten started on your yoga journey (YAY you!) Whether you're hitting up yoga classes in your fave studio or fitness centre, working on your personal yoga practice at home, or ready to take off on your first yoga retreat you may be wondering "does my mat REALLY make a difference in my yoga practice?" In my personal experience, YES! It absolutely does...and here's the low down

If you are using a mat that you picked up for under $20 on Amazon, at your favourite big box store or sporting goods store, it is probably made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which contains toxic additives (phthalates, stabilizers, flame retardants, heavy metals, lubricants, and loads of other chemicals) You may have noticed a funky smell coming off of it when you first rolled it out (ew!) Definitely not the best thing to be inhaling while working on that deep yogic breathing. That brings me to the first thing to consider when purchasing a new yoga mat...

1. MATERIAL A yoga mat made with a low grade, man made material like PVC will lack durability. After a while you may start to find bits and pieces of it flaking off while you practice, and having the icky toxins touching your skin isn't awesome. Finding a mat made out of a more sustainable material like natural rubber, cork, or jute may be pricier, but in my honest opinion 110% worth the splurge! You might also find that a cheap-o yoga mat slips and slides around as you move, and it might not be quite as cushy on your knees when you come into a tabletop position....This brings me to our second thing to consider...

2. DENSITY Finding yourself a denser yoga mat will provide the cushion that is SO important when we are flowing, balancing, or just looking to unwind our minds after a long, hard day. The extra density means the mat will be heavier, which means it will STAY PUT while you are moving and grooving so no more slip sliding around! While you are doing your shopping, you will find yoga mat thickness is measured in millimetres, typically between 2mm and 6mm. You may be thinking "the thicker the better" which is kinda true, but this brings us to our next factor of consideration...

3. PORTABILTY Will you be using your yoga mat mainly at home? Will you be using it to travel and need it to pack down into your carry-on suitcase? Will you be using it for both home and studio practice? In my experience, the thickness is great but theres a small (very small) downside. I have a 6mm Manduka Black Mat Pro that I have had for at least 7 years (its a gem, and it only gets better and more worked in with every use) Let me tell ya - I. FREAKIN. LOVE. THIS. MAT! BUT, I loathe lugging it to and from yoga classes because I find it's heavy and awkward to pack around. I have a 3mm Lululemon mat that I find rolls up nice and small, and its easy peasy to pack under my arm or in my tote bag. My advice? Home practice, you can go as thick as you like. If you are going to be bringing your mat for home and studio yoga, invest in a 3-4mm mat for packability purposes. If you are travelling a LOT, and need a mat that can get really compact there are specific "travel mats" on the market, however you will be sacrificing those cushy feels. Speaking of cushy feels, something else you may want to consider is...

Now you're all up to snuff on what makes a yoga mat a GOOD yoga mat...You're next question might be "how much is this going to cost?" Well, let's unpack this shall we?

4. COST Do you need to spend an arm and a leg to get a GOOD yoga mat? Absolutely not. You CAN spend $100+ to get a mat and know it will be kick ass, but if you're on a budget you can still get a kick ass mat that you love to use while spending a fraction of the price. Do your research and shop around! Even more importantly, ASK around! Chat up your yoga homies or yoga teacher and see which mat they use and why they love it! Once you figure out what you really, really want START SHOPPING! If you are open to buying a mat second hand, you could take a cruise through Facebook Marketplace, and keep an eye out at discount stores like Winners or Marshalls. I found my awesome Manduka mat I mentioned above for $50 at Winners and each Lululemon mat I have purchased was a "We Made Too Much" bargain of around $39. I have had to replace 2 Lululemon mats over the years, and that brings me to my last point...

5. QUALITY If you are buying a high quality item, you expect that it will last. I believe that entirely rings true for almost everything and yoga mats are no different. If you are purchasing from a company who creates yoga mats using sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing practices this will of course, cost more than something that can be easily and cheaply mass produced in a sweat shop (side note: please stop buying things from Shein!!!) If you buy from a company that manufactures with integrity you can be sure that you are getting a quality product that will last you a lifetime.

Happy shopping!

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