25 October 2020

Yoga Mat: How to Choose and Clean It

If you're looking to buy your first yoga mat, you may be slightly overwhelmed by the wide choice of mats available to purchase. This article will teach you how to choose a yoga mat and how to clean a yoga mat.

How to Choose a Yoga Mat

If you are a new yoga student, you might be wondering how to choose a yoga mat. There are so many mats on the market; it can be difficult to know what kind of yoga mat is best for beginners. Finding the right mat for you rests on a few variables:

1: Materials - Your mat can be constructed from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), TPE (thermoplastic elastomer - a mix of plastic and rubber), or more eco-friendly biodegradable materials, such as natural rubber, jute, or organic cotton. The materials you choose will greatly dictate what type of texture your mat has. PVC/TPE mats are sticky, which reduces slip for beginners. Eco-friendly mats tend to have a textured surface to create more friction.

2: Thickness - Yoga mats are available in a variety of thicknesses. Some people prefer thinner mats for better balance, while others need a thicker mat to cushion their joints. Mats typically range between 1/8 inch - 1/4 inch thick.

3: Cost - Standard 1/8 inch PVC yoga mats are on the lowest end of the price range. Eco mats tend to be more expensive. If you want to customize your mat, you're looking at spending even more.

PVC Mats Pros and Cons

PVC mats are best if you:

  • Are on a tight budget
  • Prefer a smooth, sticky, spongy, cushioned surface
  • Don't mind about your mat's eco-credentials

Avoid PVC/TPE mats if you:

  • Don't want your mat ending up in landfill or adding to plastic pollution
  • Don't want to breathe in/absorb toxins while you practice
  • Are conscious about fair/healthy working conditions for factory workers

Eco Mats Pros and Cons

Eco mats are best if you:

  • Value the environment and want your mat to biodegrade
  • Want your mat to be made by people who are treated fairly
  • Prefer a textured surface to prevent slipping, or you don't need much traction

Avoid eco mats if you:

  • Are on a tight budget
  • Are allergic to latex (rubber mats)
  • Need a cushioned or springy mat

How to Clean a Yoga Mat

Your yoga mat will need to be cleaned regularly to maintain it and prevent a build-up of bacteria. How to clean a yoga mat varies depending on the material. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions to extend the life of your mat.

You can clean a yoga mat with a ready-made spray, a homemade spray, or dish soap and water. If you want to make your own spray, mix equal parts distilled water and white vinegar, and add some essential oils. Tea tree is a good idea because it is antibacterial and antifungal. Lemon, lavender, orange, or grapefruit essential oil will make your homemade mat spray smell beautiful.

When you have cleaned your mat, allow it to air-dry before rolling it up. Do not leave rubber or TPE mats in the sun as they will degrade. Using a yoga towel over your mat will keep it clean, and the towel can easily be machine-washed between uses.

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