Let’s face it, there are many different types of yoga and there is no shortage of yoga mat choices out there. What makes a good yoga mat in one style of yoga might not be great in another style of yoga. In this article, we can help you to pair the right mat with your yoga style of choice.
First up, here are the yoga mat features that vary in importance depending on your yoga style of choice: weight, grip, absorbency, thickness/cushioning, how you wash or clean the yoga mat and toxicity of materials in the actual yoga mat itself.
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga with poses that are held for often what seems like an eternity, but in actual fact are usually under 5 minutes. This is also one of the most challenging aspects of the practice – it takes patience to be able to enjoy the pain and be able to relax into the pose. Because most poses are seated and held for extended periods, comfort and cushioning is key. Choose a yoga mat which is thick (3-4mm+) or put one of the studio yoga mats under your thinner yoga mat for double the comfort.
Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga:
Hot styles of yoga can vary from about 30-45 degrees Celcius, and with a high degree of humidity. The sequence of postures are repetitive and the classes are often over 60 minutes. Having a yoga mat that can stand the sweat and humidity can really impact your ability to make it through the class. Slipping and sliding in your own sweat will mean that you literally cannot perform the poses, which is not only distracting but frustrating. We recommend yoga mats that have high grip but double as a yoga towel, absorbing your sweat. Yellow Willow yoga mats have a high grip with their X-Grip feature, but also their soft towel-like surface means that any sweat can be absorbed, unlike a rubber yoga mat which can have you slipping and sliding on your yoga mat. Yellow Willow yoga mats also have the added bonus of being machine washable, so you can pop them into the machine after a sweaty session.
Vinyasa or Athletic Flow:
Flow allows you to get your moving meditation and your cardio workout in the same hour. These classes are all the rage, combining cardio with yoga as you ‘flow’ or move from pose to pose. Having a mat that has strong grip is vital for these classes, as it allows you to really get the most out of each pose and the cardio aspect as it allows you to take your flow to the next level with confidence. Because of the dynamic nature of these classes, having a soft yoga mat which doesn’t jar your joints is important as well. Hard rubber yoga mats can lead to injury as you move between poses, especially for the delicate toe joints. Yellow Willow yoga mats have high grip, but bring a smooth fluidity to your practice, allowing you to glide between poses, but keep your poses solid once you’re in them.
30-minute yoga session:
These bite-sized yoga sessions are popping up in major cities for those who want to squeeze in a yoga session on the go, usually before work, after work, or in a lunch break. A shorter yoga session means you have to get into it the zen yoga mindset straight away, with little or no warm-up or warm down. You’ll need something that performs well from the get-go. You’ll also need something that travels well and is lightweight, avoiding you needing to carry around a heavy yoga mat – some can weigh close to 5kgs! We love the Yellow Willow heavy duty yoga towels. These have the same high-performance grip on them that their yoga mats do, but they are super thin and lightweight (1mm thick, 900g). They can fold up to the size of a shoe, so you can easily pop them into your handbag or work bag and then lay them over the studio-provided yoga mats for extra cushioning. These travel yoga mats also have the added benefit of a bacteria-barrier between you and the studio yoga mats, which carry a lot of nasties (but that’s another article altogether!).
Ashtanga yoga is for the experienced yogi and is comprised of a series of demanding posture sequences, including sun salutation A’s and B’s. A yoga mat built for grip and performance will be your best yoga buddy here. A yoga mat that is built for durability will also be important if you’re into Ashtanga, as you will most likely be practicing regularly and frequently. Choose a yoga mat brand you trust and one that has been with you throughout your yoga journey.
Restorative Yoga: A slow-paced practice to help you get your mind and body back on track. It’s about relaxation and winding down. Comfort is key here, so ensure you have a yoga mat that is thick enough with adequate cushioning. Having a few blocks, cushions, bolters and eye pillows (which the studio should provide) can also help to enhance the experience of this practice. These classes are best at the end of a day when you can truly unwind, relax and switch off.