I get a lot of questions on twitter about yoga mats so I thought I'd put together a few things to consider when choosing the perfect yoga mat for you.
Material. Many yoga mats are made from PVC or latex. Latex is an obvious concern for someone with a latex allergy, and PVC exposure has been linked to cancer and other illness. They also tend to fall apart pretty quickly. (For me, I've had them last maybe 2 weeks before starting to peel.) The upside to these mats is that they're inexpensive, starting at around $9.99. There are eco-friendly options like the Jade brand (see below) that are higher quality and made from natural rubber and contain no PVC. These are significantly more expensive, starting around $50.00.
Weight. Consider how you're getting to class. If you're biking or walking, consider a lightweight mat. Manduka (see below) makes a great eco-friendly lightweight mat. These fold up like a towel and can be thrown in a backpack. Of course, a lightweight mat means you'll sacrifice thickness, so you have to determine what's most important to you.
Thickness. How are your joints? A thicker mat (see below) has more cushion for the knees and wrists, and makes for a more comfortable place to sit during meditation. The downside is that a thicker mat is heavy (5-7 pounds heavy!) to cart around, but it's probably worth it to be comfortable during class.
Length. The standard length for a yoga mat is 68''. Longer options are available. There are a couple advantages to having a longer mat- you don't have to continually reposition yourself during class to stay on the mat, and you can lay down with your head and feet on the mat which might be important to you if you're practicing outside or in a public studio. With a longer mat, you can also fold the ends when you're on your knees or have a lot of weight on your wrists for more cushion. The downside is that a longer mat is heavier and more expensive. Below is an 84'' mat.
Lifetime warranty. The black mat pro by Manduka is known throughout the yoga world as the holy grail of yoga mats. It's got everything- eco-friendly material with a non-slip, fabric-like finish, thick and firm, and comes with a lifetime guarantee. So it's really the first and last mat you'll ever have to buy. The downside is that it is very heavy, and quite expensive.