Choosing a mat can be daunting if you are new to yoga. Mats can range in price, and you want to be sure to find the one that is right for you and your practice. Living in a consumer society, however, can tend to shape what we consider the “best” product to be. Remember that yoga is about your mind, your body, and your soul. Instead of being influenced by advertising, brand name or price, use these three aspects—color, thickness, and design—to find the mat that suits your unique yoga needs.
Don’t pick a mat whose color you find icky just because it is on sale or from a reputable brand. Each of us has a unique relationship with color based on our past experiences and independently developed associations. Find a mat in a color that stimulates positive energy in your soul. Also, take into account that different colors provoke different energies. Do you prefer a yoga practice that makes you energized? Perhaps, choose an orange or yellow hue. Do you prefer a yoga practice that makes you feel calm and tranquil? Perhaps, a smoky blue or green is what you need. Be sure to consider how you want your practice to make you feel and which color palettes can assist in that. Only you have the wisdom of what will work best.
Mats can range in thickness, and often, we make the mistake of assuming that a thicker mat is a better-quality mat. While some individuals with weakened knee and wrist joints may require a thicker mat throughout their entire practice, others may be better off using a blanket for specific poses that require additional support. For yogis who consistently struggle with balance, remember that a thicker mat may sacrifice some of the stability you need to excel in balance poses. The key here is to consider your particular needs and choose a mat with corresponding thickness.
Several mats feature beautiful designs on them—geometric forms, hypnotizing patterns, and charming illustrations. Consider whether a mat with a design will bring a sense of harmony to your practice or pose as a distraction. If you determine that a design is right for you, choose one that matches your spirit, as it can stand as an expression of self and help fuel your inner development throughout your yoga journey. Some mats even feature instructional diagrams that illustrate proper body alignment for a handful of poses. This can be a helpful tool for some who need a little extra visual reminder when getting into a pose. Again, consider your needs to help decide if a design will propel your practice, and if so, what sort of design.
As always, remember the aim of your yoga practice—uniting mind, body, and spirit. Honor your mind, body, and spirit accordingly, and choose a mat that will serve you best in the development of your yoga journey.