Choosing a Yoga Mat: An In-depth Guide.


Choosing a Yoga Mat : An In-depth Guide. 

Hello dear reader. Thank you for taking an interest in yoga and also this article. I'd like to help you understand some of the differences between the vast amount of mat choices there are. I’ve personally learned that choosing a yoga mat is not easy. I’ve made this guide share what I’ve learned about the different types of mats.

The most important aspect of a yoga mat is the material(s) it’s made out of. Followed by the mats thickness, dimensions, then texture.

This guide compares yoga mats based on the material(s) used to make them. There are five key features to compare these materials upon.

The ranking system is from 1-10. 10 being the preferred rating, and 1 the unpreferred.

 

Also, keep these questions in mind as you read this article: 

-What type of yoga are you doing?

-How often do you practice?

-How much do you sweat? 

 

Key Features explained.

Grip                           /10

Ease of Cleaning      /10

Eco-Friendliness      /10

Durability                  /10

Price/Value              /10

-Grip Level - First, please take into account that having the highest grip isn’t always desired. Mats have a variety of grip or stickiness levels. For slower more meditative practices, higher grip helps with holding positions for a long duration. Lower grip mats are great for more aerobic practices where there are quick moments. It is also important to note that sweat, moisture, and water on the mat will affect your grip adversely, although there are mats that will increase in grip when moistened.

-Ease of Cleaning - Mats tend to be easily cleaned. Mats made of rubber and plastic materials barely ever absorb moisture making them very easy to clean. Cotton and hemp derived mats on the other hand will absorb moisture and can retrain odors even after washing. These can be more difficult to clean.  Typically, mats can be cleaned with mild soaps and a sponge and event some diluted vinegar.

-Eco-Friendliness - Mats can be made from a variety of different materials. PVC is not eco friendly while Jute and TPE are very eco friendly.

-Durability - The longevity of a mat depends on the type if materials it’s made of and also its thickness.

-Price/Value - You generally will get what you pay for. Are pricier mats really worth their value? Yes! The majority of cheap mats are thin and quickly degrade. Cheap mats also tend to have a lack of eco friendliness

 

Big Note : Some may be allergic to latex or other materials. Make sure you check exactly what constitutes each material.

 

Types of mats

 

EVA Mat

Grip                           6 /10

Ease of Cleaning     9 /10

Eco-Friendliness     3 /10

Durability                 4 /10

Price/Value              9 /10   Usually Between $10-$20

EVA mats are the lightest but  tend to stretch and somewhat lose their shape over time, becoming miss shapen. 

EVA mats tend to be the lightest of the mats, making them great for travel.  EVA stands for Ethylene-vinyl acetate. This material has good barrier properties, low-temperature toughness, stress-crack resistance, hot-melt adhesive waterproof properties, and resistance to ultraviolet radiation.[1]

For more in depth info on EVA material click this ling.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene-vinyl_acetate

 

TPE Mats

Grip                           9 /10

Ease of Cleaning     9 /10

Eco-Friendliness     8 /10

Durability                 8 /10

Price/Value              10 /10   Usually Between $40-$100

TPE mats have two layers.They come from a family of rubber like materials that combine the characteristics of rubber with the recyclability and processing advantages of plastics.Because TPE can be melted and cooled back into a solid it is highly recyclable.TPE is a material of choice in a variety of applications. Fields such as the automotive, medical, construction, electrical, appliance, packaging and industrial markets – and new uses for TPEs are being developed all the time. [2]

For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermoplastic_elastomer

 

PVC Mats 

Grip                           9 /10

Ease of Cleaning     9 /10

Regular PCV
Eco-Friendliness     1 /10
Eco Friendly PCV
Eco-Friendliness     8 /10

Durability                 7 /10

Price/Value              6 /10   Usually Between $10-$100 (depending if regular PVC or eco Friendly PVC)

PVC These mats tend to be the most common mats in use. Good grip and durability, however, they are very difficult and costly to recycle. PVC, is the third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer, after polyethylene and polypropylene[3]

PVC foam absorbs little to no moisture. It is self-extinguishing (or will not burn on its own) and will not rot.. For more information on the PVC material click this link http://www.netcomposites.com/guide/pvc-foam/91and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride

There is a large shadow aspect to PVC. It is NOT eco friendly. Very much so. There are poisonous and carcinogenic chemicals in its make up. If you’d like full explanation as to the full extent of PVC’s hazard to the environment check out this link http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/global/usa/report/2009/4/pvc-the-poison-plastic.html

HOWEVER PVC can be eco-friendly if it follows the guidelines set by a Swiss company called Oeko Tex. The company tests to limit the use of certain chemicals in textiles and other materials. When buying a PVC mat, look for Oeko Tex certification for eco friendliness. 

 

JUTE Mats

Grip                           8 /10

Ease of Cleaning     9 /10

Eco-Friendliness     10 /10 (Warning: Not all Jute mats are 100% Jute. They are often mixed with other materials that can be either eco or non eco friendly.)

Durability                 7 /10

Price/Value              9 /10   Usually Between $50-$100

Jute  Mainly derived from the India and Bengali region in South Asia Jute is a vegetable fiber. It is mainly spun into coarse, strong threads and used as rope or made into sacks to store vegetables like potatoes. It is very versatile and can be used for many other things.Jute as a natural fiber, it comes second to cotton in amount produced, affordability and variety of uses. [4]

Read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jute

These mats are 100% bio-degradable and recyclable making them environmentally friendly. They tend to be less sticky than the other mats and also less durable. Occasionally, a mat might be marketed as Jute, but it is a mix of Jute and some other materials that might not be eco friendly.

 

Natural Rubber

Grip                           9 /10

Ease of Cleaning     9 /10

Eco-Friendliness     10 /10

Durability                 8 /10

Price/Value              10 /10   Usually Between $50-$100

Natural rubber is tapped, like maple syrup, from a rubber tree, a sustainable, renewable resource. Very eco friendly , but just like Jute, it can be mixed with materials that aren’t eco friendly. More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_rubber

As a mat it behaves very similarly to TPE or PVC mats for its durability and high grip. Although mats will be a little more squishy and because of rubbers elasticity, a mat can stretch during certain positions such as downward dog, warrior 1 ,2, & reverse, and some others. However, it will go back to its original shape once out of these certain positions.

 

NBR Mats

NBR is a synthetic rubber, and is used mainly as a sealant for its resistance to fuel, oils chemicals, and many acids. It also has good elongation properties as well as adequate resilience, tensile and compression set.[5]

For more information on NBR go to. pose.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrile_rubber 

These mats more often than not are the thickest and have the most padding and squishiness. Just like rubber mats, NBR mats can stretch during certain positions. For example this stretching can upset your balance as your legs outwardly stretch a mat during warrior 1 or crescent

 

PER (Polymer Environmental Resin)

Grip                           8 /10

Ease of Cleaning     9 /10

Eco-Friendliness     10/10

Durability                 9 /10

Price/Value              9 /10   Usually Between $50-$100

I’ve had a difficult time finding relevant information about PER, and I’m not sure to the information’s validity. PER is very similar to PVC except that PER is eco friendly. It is PVC which has been plasticized and stabilized with acetyl tributyl citrate. This makes it biodegradable & non-toxic. It’s also Hypoallergenic & latex-free. I found this link to be a very good representation of PER, however I recommend more research.

http://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/6689/what-is-polymer-environmental-resin-per

 

This link talks about all the benefits of PER and negatives of PVC. It has many references and seems very well researched.http://www.appropedia.org/Polymer_environmental-friendly_resin

 

 Always read product descriptions before buying

 

References:

[1] http://www.porex.com/technologies/materials/porous-plastics/ethyl-vinyl-acetate/

[2] http://www.hexpoltpe.com/en/what-is-tpe.htm

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jute

[5] http://www.acmerubber.com/nitrile.htm

[6] http://chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/6689/what-is-polymer-environmental-resin-per


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