The Importance of Finding the Right Yoga Mat
Yoga began in ancient times, and many different poses have been discovered throughout history. The practitioners always have one thing in common: a yoga mat.
The right yoga mat can be the difference between a good and bad experience in class. The wrong one might cause discomfort or even injury. With so many options and materials, it is hard to determine which one to get, especially when you are new to yoga.
In the blog post, we will cover the overall importance of a good yoga mat, some of the factors you should consider when selecting your next mat, and the benefits and principles of yoga.
Why You Need the Right Yoga Mat
Getting the right yoga mat for your sessions is crucial due to several reasons that, include:
It provides good surface traction, which minimizes the risk of sweating and also keeps the floor clean. It doesn't stick to the body after cleaning. It reduces the risk of infection by ensuring that you don't get sweaty toxins on your body and leave them to collect dirt for a long time after a session.
Slips and falls during yoga practice can result in injury. Mats that have good traction help to prevent slips and falls. A firm surface also reduces the risk of injury by helping to keep your bones, joints, and muscles safe.
Yoga is a workout activity that requires the user to be fully present and focused on their movements. Good cushioning of the yoga mat allows you to focus on executing each pose correctly instead of fighting off pains from a hard surface. Mats with good cushioning also provide comfort for your joints and places where you might feel pressure, such as your feet or back, when doing poses like warrior 3 or bridge pose.
Having the right mat for your yoga practice, whether in a studio or your own home, can help increase your willingness to do yoga regularly. When you have a comfortable mat that offers high traction, it can help you build confidence.
Yoga mats are made of different materials, and some can be toxic when disposed of. Some materials may not decompose easily, resulting in long-term environmental damage. When you get a yoga mat made of recyclable material, you contribute to the manufacturer's sustainability efforts.
Yoga mats are not just for doing yoga. You can use them in other ways if your yoga class requires equipment. You can use the mat as a platform when doing Pilates or core exercises on the floor instead of on an expensive piece of equipment, thus reducing your cost and making it more practical.
Characteristics of a Good Yoga Mat
Here are the factors to consider when selecting a good yoga mat.
The length of your yoga mat is important because if it is too short, you will fall off it during poses like downward dog. If it is shorter, you may have trouble doing poses at the edge, such as half moon or triangle, unless they are in the corner.
For most people, getting a 68-72" width and an 8' long mat is ideal for a good balance between length and width for most poses.
Traction in yoga mats refers to the amount of grip or stickiness the mat provides. It is good for a mat to have a good grip because this helps you remain steady during poses where you might slip easily.
Many yoga mats are designed with special textures or patterns on the surface to increase traction. Some mats are made from naturally sticky materials, such as rubber or cork.
The ones with good traction also allow you to hold poses for longer periods, which can improve strength and flexibility over time.
Some people prefer a very sticky mat, while others prefer a mat with a little slip. Ultimately, the right amount of traction will depend on your individual needs and preferences.
Artificial materials don't decompose easily, making it necessary to use fossil-based resources. It encourages long-term environmental damage and unhealthy practices on the part of people. Suppose you are worried about how much plastic is discarded in landfills or how a yoga mat can get into the wild and be disposed of improperly. In that case, getting a mat made from environmentally friendly materials like hemp or recycled plastic is an option.
The cost of a mat is a relative value compared to your practice's value. For people who get a lot out of their practice, spending a little more on a yoga mat than on other things can be worth spending a little more on a yoga mat.
Some mats offer discounts or free classes after you purchase them, so you can try the mat and see if it is right for you.
Durability is an important consideration with anything that you use in your daily life. A good yoga mat should last at least one year or longer before you need to replace it due to wear and tear from regular use. If the mat has a guarantee of at least one year or two years for replacement, then you will have confidence in its quality and long-term durability.
Some mats are made using recycled materials that may not be as durable as a conventional yoga mat.
6. Color and Design
Color matters. It is a fact that people prefer certain colors to others when it comes to their accessories, including their yoga mats. That is why so many different types of mats are available in different colors and styles for every taste and preference.
There are several types of yoga mats:
● A Laminated is a surface with a layer of plastic film or cloth laminated on top. This texture provides good traction and durability while adding grip to the surface. When the material used in making one layer of a laminated mat wears off, it can be replaced with another as many times as necessary.
● Vinyl, however, is chemically treated, so it cannot be replaced once it starts deteriorating. With a subtle design compared to other yoga mats, yet with good quality and durability, vinyl yoga mats are also very popular due to their cost-effectiveness.
Benefits of Yoga
As you are familiar with the importance of a good mat besides the factors to pay attention to during purchase, let us elaborate further on yoga benefits to help you engage more in practice.
When starting your yoga practice, keep at a steady pace so that you can adjust to the poses according to your level of maturity and health. As you advance in your practice, your flexibility will increase, and the poses will become easier for you to complete.
You will notice how the time it takes to complete a pose decreases as you progress into more advanced levels in your practice.
2. Better sleep
3. Good mood
Yoga influences the overall feeling of your body and mind. The meditative nature of some poses promotes calmness and focus as you concentrate on holding poses properly, mentally focusing on the various areas of your body that are moving in each pose.
It also helps regulate your autonomic nervous system by promoting relaxation to reduce stress and improve living by regulating all bodily functions. It creates a more positive state of being, allowing you to live healthier, calmer, and happier.
4. Burns Calories
Many poses in yoga aid you in burning calories while doing a good warm-up or as part of your post-workout routine, such as sun salutations.
Ideally, you should have around 2-3 minutes of your post-workout routine consisting of quick, high-intensity cardio exercises like jumping jacks or skipping rope to burn more calories straight after the workout.
5. Increased Strength
You are not just strengthening your core muscles when practicing yoga, but also strengthening your upper body and lower body muscles. It can be very beneficial for athletes who seek to improve their performance in their respective sports or those who want a great full-body workout without going for a conventional gym session.
6. Sharpens Mind and Memory
Regular yoga will make you move more often and push your body to new limits. Moving will also stimulate your brain cells, providing better oxygen and nutrient flow to your neurons.
It helps sharpen your memory heightening your concentration capability for better focus on tasks that require precision and alertness.
7. Good for Pregnancy
It is best to do yoga under the guidance of a professional or have an instructor or a doctor's approval if you are pregnant.
Pregnant women practicing certain poses are prone to contract hyperemesis gravidarum, or HG. It is a serious condition that can cause your body to produce too much of the essential hormone for the proper function of your uterus and placenta during pregnancy.
A few poses that may be unwise to practice during pregnancy are a headstand, headstand handstand, and shoulder stand. Suppose you are experiencing severe abdominal cramping, pain in the lower back, or any other symptoms associated with HG. In that case, it may be advisable to avoid yoga until your doctor's approval.
8. Improves Heart Health
Yoga has been shown to improve your heart health significantly. Yoga can be practiced even by those with risk factors for coronary artery disease because it is low-impact and doesn't put any unnecessary stress on your joints or ligaments.
It improves your arterial stiffness and lowers your resting blood pressure, reducing stress on the heart as well as risks of cardiovascular diseases.
Principles of Yoga
There is more to yoga than meets the eye. Whether looking for a new hobby to improve yourself or feeling like you need a break from a busy schedule, yoga has long been touted as a great way to relax and concentrate.
These are the fundamental principles of yoga in further detail, making it easier to understand what makes yoga different from other forms of exercise.
1. Breath Control - Pranayama
The practice is all about exercises designed to focus on good breathing habits. Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that means "to control or restrain." You can manage your breath differently during yoga by relaxing, monitoring, and controlling the airflow from your nostrils through your mouth.
It regulates the amount of oxygen entering your body, thus helping to improve recovery from exercise.
2. Physical Postures - Asanas
3. Proper Relaxation - Savasana
Most people skip the relaxation part, not knowing why it is important for their health. Sometimes you need to rest your muscles after a good workout, as this will prevent you from overtraining and sustaining any injuries.
Sometimes you are too exhausted to push yourself during yoga and need a break. Proper relaxation is essential for good health and a healthy lifestyle. It helps in reducing stress and promoting better sleep in the end.
4. Meditation - Dhyana
5. Good Diet
Vegan diets are not the only diets recommended for yoga practitioners. Suppose you want to achieve optimum health and wellness. It is best to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates with few or no processed foods full of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Yoga mats play an important role in the practice of yoga. You will feel more secure if you purchase a yoga mat designed for the purpose. These mats offer high levels of cushioning and are breathable to your joints.