We've all been there. The random assortment of fitness scraps section at Marshalls or TJMaxx. That yoga mat is only $12.00!? What a bargain!
I am a champion bargain hunter but I am here to tell you that investing in a quality yoga mat is an investment in you! This is a situation where you pay for what you get. The $12.00 mat is wonderful if you are just getting in to fitness and not quite consistent with your practice. Sometimes it sits in the trunk of your car for 2 months but sometimes you use it 2 times a week. Awesome place to start, no doubt. If you have a consistent yoga practice, and by that I mean you loyally go to yoga even just once, let alone twice, thrice or more a week EVERY week, you should invest in a quality mat. Your practice will indeed change for the better. I know it sounds silly, I had the same thought many years ago but now there's no turning back and here's why.
The bargain mats are typically made of PVC or some type of plastic as well as a mixture of other low cost petroleum based things like foam. What that means is that these are not very durable but, moreover, as soon as your hands or feet get balmy (so like 10 seconds in to your yoga class) you start to slip and slide on the plasticy surface compromising your alignment and also putting you at risk for an injury. These types of mats can be deceivingly cushiony but as soon as you step on it, it squishes flat and does not provide support. Eventually the material breaks down and literally crumbles apart. Also these materials are not environmentally friendly which as a yogi, but also as a decent human, you should at least consider. Overall when you are not distracted by slipping down your mat or your knee pressing uncomfortably in to the hard ground, you can instead focus on you and your breath which is the whole point of yoga.
My recommendation is a mat made of some type of more natural material like rubber. I think Jade makes a really great mat that is just the right amount of cushioning that also holds your hands and feet in place even during a sweaty practice. For the dudes and extra tall ladies out there, it's also great to customize or invest in a nice long mat for your longer legs. Jade makes mats in larger lengths at 74" and for the really long leggers there is an 85"option. I gifted my guy a 74" Jade mat for his birthday a few years back and he, as a casual yogi, will attest that slipping and sliding is no longer a concern for him.
I've been seeing more yogis going for cork mats lately which look pretty cool but also showcase many benefits. Cork is an incredibly sustainable material source. Did you know that each tree can produce cork for about 200 years?! The material is naturally water resistant, antimicrobial, & biodegradable. Plus they are also light weight so easy to take on the go!
Getting a better quality yoga mat will last you a lifetime provided you don't constantly run it over with a truck or let an alligator chew on it. Several companies like Manduka do advertise lifetime guarantees on their products. I have had my Manduka mat for 12 years and it's a little tank! Many of these companies also tend to be community conscious by committing to donating proceeds to community yoga programs or even planting trees for each purchase.
DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED MY PRICE TAG. Remember I said earlier you pay for what you get? The quality will make a difference! Do some research, wait for some sales. Keep in mind this holiday season that shipping may be delayed so if you are gifting for someone else, be sure to leave plenty of time. Occasionally I get discount codes and I will share them with my email subscribers especially before the holidays. On the regular I recommend checking out www.yogaoutlet.com for great deals/sales on yoga mats, blocks, clothing and essential oils. They are usually Rakuten friendly so get that cash back! Happy shopping!
Feel free to DM me @AlesandAsanas with any questions or other yoga gear needs. Head to AlesandAsanas.com to subscribe to our mailing list for updates and deals.