If you're looking to try out yoga, you'll need a mat. But if you're wanting to cultivate a regular practice, it's important to think very carefully about which you buy: "When we first begin a yoga practice, we are looking for a sanctuary to slow down and breathe. It needs to be a place that you recognize as your time to slow down," Vinita Laroia, a 300 RYT-certified yoga and meditation teacher with over 20 years of experience, told Insider.
Considering you touch your yoga mat every time you practice, this item can create that familiar space as soon as you step onto it, whether you're unrolling in your living room, a studio, or while traveling away from home.
It may seem like all mats are the same, but materials, durability, thickness, non-slip grip, and other subtle design changes between mats can help or hurt your unique movement patterns, Kasia Gondek, PT, DPT, CSCS, physical therapist at Fusion Wellness and Physical Therapy in California told Insider. This can affect everything from creating unusual aches or pains in a pose to making your hour-long sweaty flow pure frustration if your feet and hands are constantly slipping out of place. (At the end of this guide, we go into a lot more detail about everything you should when considering the best yoga mats of 2021.)
As a 200RYT Hatha yoga teacher with over 10-years-worth of practice, I have a ton of first-hand experience testing out dozens of mats over the years, as well as an endless list of input from fellow yogis about which mats they love (or regret purchasing). To help make your purchasing decision easier, we rigorously tested a number of the top yoga mats on the market and compiled this guide to the best yoga mats of 2021 to find the best mat depending on your priorities, from perfect pose alignment to the use of sustainable, earth-friendly materials. Some of the mats included in this guide are ones I still continue to use daily.
What's more, the right yoga mat can actually help prevent injury by cushioning pressure points like the knees, lower back, and hip bones, Kasia Gondek, PT, DPT, CSCS, physical therapist at Fusion Wellness and Physical Therapy in California told Insider.
Less joint pain can improve your activity tolerance during your yoga practice, allowing you to spend more time improving your mobility, flexibility, and strength in the areas you need it most," she said.
Even the most able-bodies person will feel a different level of comfort between an uber-minimal or cheap mat, and a quality one at standard thickness. If you have any sort of joint pain, upgrading to a thicker mat (4mm+) will give you a world of relief.
Curious to know more about the best yoga mats of 2021? Check out the full article at: Business Insider: The 9 best yoga mats of 2021, according to yoga teachers.