As a beginner it’s always quite hard to find the perfect mat that suits for you. The yoga hype is still growing and people are still finding their way to start a yogi life, for which I’m happy of course, but that also makes that more and more products are becoming available. A lot of companies are jumping in and starting to produce beginner yoga mats. But what do you have to look for in a beginner’s yoga mat?
Don’t be cheap
Basically if someone is promoting beginner yoga mats, they’re gonna be cheap. With being cheap also comes the price that it’s not gonna be very sustainable and isn’t gonna give you the best experience during your first class. So, if you see a mat somewhere for $5.00, basically, don’t buy it. Nothing is as bad as starting to slip when you’re in downward facing dog. Cheap mats can also stretch, which also doesn’t give a good feeling, believe me. When I was doing my teacher’s course in India I saw it happen a lot with people, they bought a cheap mat for a couple of bucks as they didn’t want to take theirs on the trip, but after a month of intensive training they had to change their mat a couple of times as it was worn out after a couple of uses.
Borrowing someone’s mat
You might say that it might be a good idea to borrow someone’s mat, but to be really honest, if the person is really taking his practice seriously, they’re not gonna lend you their mat. And in a way I understand, I’m going to speak about the practical side of the whole thing, I like to keep my feet on the ground and talking about energy and muble-jumble isn’t my style. Practically, normally people have only one mat, they’re getting attached to the mat and if you are having a serious yoga practice then you want to do yoga whenever you want, wherever you want. Therefore, it’s not gonna be easy to borrow someone’s mat, and especially if that person is joining you for your first yoga class of course ;). Also, hygienically, do you want to borrow someone’s mat? I’m just speaking for myself now, but it’s not the easiest object to put in the washing machine, and going over it with just a cloth is not really killing all the germs that are coming onto the mat. And yes there will be some germs as you are nearly always barefoot on your mat, you can sweat, gasses will be released, you can put the mat on a space that isn’t cleaned that well, etc. So, maybe it isn’t the best idea to borrow someone’s mat to begin with. I know that I don’t lend out mine so easily.
This one is a hard one for me to talk about. I haven’t really looked a lot into materials that producers use. I do know that as the moment there is a big hype for organic mats, which is really amazing. But as the same time it’s also a bit more expensive. So if that’s what you want for your first beginner’s mat, go for it. The environment will be grateful to you! And sometimes I even wish I would’ve bought an ecological mat, but the one I have now is perfect for my size, my weight and my bad knees. So in that way I just hope I’ll do with that mat for the rest of my life so that it wasn’t awaste as least. If you’re not very into the ecological hype, then make sure you’ll buy a mat with a good grip. The one I would recommend for that is PVC. Most non-ecological yoga mats are made of this material and it’s just the best if you need some grip. Also, when you’re a person that sweats a lot during physical activity it’s good to use this material.
Yoga Mats under $20
However, there are some decent yoga mats available for those who are just starting out with yoga and don’t want to buy an expensive yoga mat yet. Here I’m going to put 5 of the cheapest yoga mats that might be suitable for you if you are just starting your yoga adventure.
YogaAccessories Lightweight Classic
This mat is a very nice mat when you are always on the go. Say that you are at work and during your lunch break you’d like to fit in a couple of exercises. Then this mat is nice to keep with you as it is very light and is quite thin. The price is a bit more expensive than the other ones I’m going to recommend, but so far I haven’t seen the problems yet that the other mats are having, like shedding. The mat is quite slippery though so I wouldn’t advice doing a lot of down dogs with it just to prevent some mild injury. Or another possibility is that you’d buy yourself a yoga blanket as well to put on top of your mat. Good for seated positions and balancing poses as it gives you more of a grounded feeling because of its thickness.
So the next one actually belongs in a different categories, but because it’s thin, cheap and foldable, I thought putting it in here as well. For the same reason as the mat from YogaAsseccories, I would say this is a very nice mat for when you are on the go. If your purse or bag is big enough, you can even put it in there. As I said, this mat is foldable, which makes it really easy to transport. So if you’re a bit shy and you don’t want people to know that you’re doing or you’re going to do yoga, this is a perfect fit for you. Of course these days you don’t have to worry anymore what people think of you when you’re going to your yoga class as it is getting very popular, but I still know some people who don’t like that others know. Unfortunately it only comes with prints, although they look nice, I don’t see a lot of men buying them. Besides that, the downside of a foldable mat is that you’ll always see the folds in your mat. So one good advice here, every now and then roll your mat instead of folding it. If you roll it very tightly the folds will be minimized.
I also have to be honest here as the article says: yoga mats under $20. There’s only one print that’s under that price, and the other prints are a bit more expensive. So if the print fits you, then it’s a nice opportunity, if not, maybe you’d like to pay $5 more for this mat :).
This is the cheapest yoga mat out there at the moment that is quite decent. But be aware, it is cheap and that doesn’t mean that it’s very durable. It’s good for the people out there who are looking for their first beginners yoga mat. It scores good on every aspect that you would need for your first yoga class, with the only downside that it might shed after a couple of uses. But that also depends on how intensely you are using your yoga mat of course. The thickness of this mat is on average quite good, so it’s good to use on every surface you’re doing yoga on and it will give you the support that you need. I would suggest using this yoga mat when you’re doing softer styles of yoga. With the softer yoga styles you won’t sweat that much and therefore won’t be putting a lot of stress on this mat. Also a plus with this one is that you get a free carrying strap with your order.
Gaiam Essentials Premium
I have to say that I love Gaiam. They are the number one company in offering reasonably priced products and they are good as well. Of course they also have their more luxurious products that are more for the advanced yogi’s. But they’ve also kept in mind that the beginner might not fit that market in the beginning and they have a wide range of products going from $15 up until $100. Which is quite nice as there are companies that are selling mats for as high $140…
So this one is a nice one to begin with, it’s actually very similar to the first one I posted here, has the same specs and disadvantages. But it’s finished off a little bit better than the previous one. It also has the advantage that they didn’t use any toxic products at all in this mat which makes it good for the planet and good for you. It also offers a carrier strap with the mat, which looks a bit more stylish than the GoYoga mat.
Gaiam Essentials Thick
The next one which is still under $20 and only a few bucks more than the previous one is the Gaiam Essentials Thick. Basically it has everything to offer that the Premium has to offer, with the only difference that it’s thicker, and it has a different carrier strap. The mat is 2/5 inch thick which gives you a lot of comfort and support when you are having serious issues with your joints, muscles or bones. I would even suggest this mat when you are doing yoga for knee pains or yoga for pain relief. The exercises you’ll do during those classes aren’t gonna be a lot of balancing poses anyway. The latter is also the downside of this mat, it doesn’t offer you a very good balance. Another pro about his mat though is that it’s also highly suitable for doing other exercises. So if you don’t like doing yoga, then you can use it as an exercise mat! (I have to say that all yoga mats can be transformed into an exercise mat, but this one will be so much more comfortable if you’re working out on a concrete floor)
There are some good and decent mats available for under $20. I am aware that a lot of products from Gaiam made my list. But I know they are solely focused on yoga mats, also offering mats that are prices a bit steeper, which is why I feel that they are aware of what they’re offering with their products. As I said before, don’t expect to get the best yoga mat you’ll ever have. But it’s a nice way to start off, see if you like to do some yoga and then after a while you could maybe consider another yoga mat.
And before I end, I have heard a lot that new yoga mats have a stench. Yes, it’s normal. So, when you’re new yoga mat arrives, don’t take it immediately to your class to show off, take it out of its package and let it air for a while to make sure that the stench can evaporate a bit.
If you have any questions or comment, feel free to leave them below here!
And as always,
Nama-stay wonderful everyone!