Ever wondered what a yoga mat is? With the popularity of yoga growing, you may have heard this phrase quite a lot lately. A yoga mat is a rectangular piece of non-flexible equipment used in yoga classes and studios. Often made of rubber or PVC, the yoga mat provides comfort and safety to people practicing poses such as downward dogs and sun salutations.
The Very First Yoga Mats Were Made From Jute.
The very first yoga mats were made from jute, a coarse fiber harvested from plants in the genus Corchorus. Jute mats are strong, durable, and absorbent but hard to clean and often smell bad if they get sweaty. Jute mats also have little cushioning qualities on the bottom as well as being painful to over-extended joints due to their firmness.
The foam used in these mats is made from polyurethane foam or recycled rubber (usually shredded tires). Both of these varieties of foam are lighter, less bulky, more hygienic, easier to clean, and fall nicely under our feet for greater comfort than conventional jute or cotton padding; though at times many people find the plastic-like odor overwhelming or unpleasant around their faces during longer poses.
Types Of Yoga Mats.
Yoga mats come in a variety of sizes, but they can also have different shapes and textures depending on the type of yoga you practice. A jumbo-sized mat may be helpful for restorative poses, but if you practice hot yoga where you sweat buckets and need a smooth surface to put your hands or feet on the floor, a thin foam or rubber mat would be much more effective.
How Thick Should Your Yoga Mat Be?
In general, the best yoga mat is about 1/4 inch thick but the thickness does depend on the type of surface you will be working on. If your studio’s floors are uneven, then you may want to go with a thicker mat to provide more cushioning.
If your yoga sessions will be held on carpet or grass, then a thinner mat may be preferable. But if you plan on practicing at home or in a hotel room, anything over 3/8 inches should suffice and some lower fitness-level yogis may prefer something even thinner (1/8 inch).
Yoga Mat Thickness To Avoid.
The thickness of your yoga mat is just as important as the type of material it’s made from. The thicker your yoga mat is, the more cushioning it offers. A thicker yoga mat can help protect your joints, knees, and wrists against pressure points during practice. A too-thin mat can make it harder to modify poses like Downward Dog and might even cause knee pain throughout the class.
The yoga mat is an asset for any yoga practice. It makes for a comfortable and clean surface to practice on, and it is the only thing that will protect your body from the hard and potentially dirty floor. Mats can be made of different materials depending on their uses. Each has its own purposes and uses.