I’m so glad to see that yoga these days is attracting more and more men in the western world. I remember that twelve years ago, when I started a meditation course, I was the only man (or I should say boy) among quite some older women. And at that time I was only 15 years old, so imagine how weird it felt to me to be the only male presence there AND to be 50 years younger than the other people.
As a man I found that it is quite hard to find the proper mat when it comes down to having a yoga practice. In the beginning it didn’t bother me so much, but at some point my own yoga teacher told me that my shoulders were too wide for the regular size yogamat. Thus, my search began! Luckily for me the trainer course I was following had a good assortment of mats and therefore also the mat I was looking for and still use.
But what is the proper yoga mat for men?
I don’t want to really point out the differences between men and women, but for this article I have to. So, to start with, men are on an average taller than woman, that’s a fact. For most men the regular size mats will do I have to say. But if you see that your hands are reaching further then the mat itself, it might be wise to look for a larger mat than the 68 inch. It might not be that easy as it there are more people with an average hight then those who are taller. I’ve found a few and later on I will share them with you.
Most yogi’s have heard this term, “put your feet shoulderwidth apart from each other”. According to the build of your body your shoulders might be a bit wider than others though. I also found that when in downwardfacing dog, my hands were always on the edge of the mat when I was using a standard-size mat, which is okay if you’re just starting to practice and if the surface underneath your mat is quite comfortable. But it’s not so nice though when you are doing yoga on a concrete floor and your hands are touching the cold surface, for example. Than it might be wise to find yourself a mat that is a bit wider than the standard size. I was very lucky that I found a wide yoga mat the second that my yoga practice got more serious.
Owning your masculinity
I might hear you say now: “that’s all well, a taller and wider yoga mat for men, but what about the space?” I do have to say that in the beginning it’s quite weird to bring a large or wide size mat to your yoga class. At least for me it was. To me it looked a bit cocky to put my oversized yoga mat there to prove that I’m a man and I need to be different than all of you. And of course that’s not what yoga is about. I have to say as well that for me it always has been hard to take my own spot, I would always let others walk over me and in the end I wouldn’t get what I want. So for me it was a lesson in learning to stand up for myself, to find my inner strenght, my masculine power. And that mat showed me that for sure ;). With that said, men, don’t be too shy among all those women, they’re all in their own practice and they’re all there for the same reasons as you are!
Among my search, the mat from the company Clever Yoga was one that popped out very quickly already. It’s not that expensive and that’s why I found it very helpful to start with this one. When you look for wider and longer mats you quickly come into a price range of $50 – $100, and that’s not what I wanted to show. However, I am gonna put another one down here as well that is a bit more expensive, just because it is a damn good mat.
But back to the Clever Yoga mat, as I said, not that pricey and that also means that you can’t expect an awful lot of it. It will do for hatha and yin classes, but it might be just too slippery for when you’re doing hot classes. But if you are doing Bikram Yoga, there will be other mats that are more suitable for you.
This mat is 72″ long x 25 1/4″ wide and will be perfect for people that are taller than 6′. It’s also wider which also means that you won’t have your hands on the cold floor anymore when you’re in chaturanga/plank. I’ve always found it horrible to have my hands half on the mat, half on the floor when you’re doing your practice, so that’s one of the main reasons why I would recommend a wider mat.
So that’s it for this mat, I would say it’s gonna be a perfect mat for when you’re more into yin yoga or any calmer styles. There you will have to be in poses for a longer time and that also means that when you are taller or wider, that chances are bigger that you will end up with your feet or your hands on the floor, which will not be such a nice experience if the floor is very cold.
The following mat I just adore, the Manduka PRO! And if it weren’t for the price, I would’ve put it on the top and I would’ve recommend it to everyone! Unfortunately it’s priced around $100, which for a beginner might be too much, and I for sure don’t want to advise to buy this one then, just try out another one first that is a bit cheaper to see if yoga is something for you.
For the more advanced practicers amongs us or those who are deepening their practice, this might be a mat for you! It comes in the regular size, but you do have the option for the taller and wider one. With dimensions of 71″L x 26″W and 6mm thick! Because of that thickness it makes that this mat is also very supportive for your body, and your joints will be very grateful! This mat is a very good one if you’re mostly practicing on a hard surface, but will not give you the balance when you’re practicing on a softer one like grass.
And one last thing about this mat, which is quite funny and also something typical for a lot of yoga mats, in the beginning they’re all gonna be a bit slippy, but the good thing is that with a good mat like this one: the more worn out it gets, the less slippier it becomes, which makes it become better after a couple of uses. I would definitely recommend this one when you’re doing all kinds of yoga styles, except maybe for hot yoga. But then again, they have their own range of yoga mats which are more suitable.