Finding the right yoga mat: 6 Importance and benefits
Your yoga space sets the mood and focus of your yoga practice. It's where you get rid of all distractions and consistently find rest for a quick reboot.
But it’s becoming a challenge to create for most yogis nowadays.
In fact, 21% of students and 30% of teachers claimed that “not having a good yoga space” prevented them from doing their practice at home.
The thing about your private sacred place is it doesn't have to be as grand and aesthetic as your favorite yoga studios. You only need a breathable space and a stable ground—or in other words, a spot where you can peacefully roll down your yoga mat.
Read through this article to understand how and why the right yoga mat can act as your safe space in your daily practice. But first, let's hit the playback button and learn how it all started.
Before the modern yoga mat
Yoga has been there since the dawn of humanity, particularly around 2,700 BC. But non-slip and grippy yoga mats weren't a thing yet. Most ancient yogis only relied on grass, deer rugs, and tiger skins for a more comfortable yoga practice.
It was only in 1967 when a yoga teacher named Angela Farmer seeded the idea of modern mats—all thanks to her fixation on a foam carpet underfelt. She realized that this underlay prevented their carpet from slipping, so she started doing her yoga on top of it.
And with the first yoga mat beneath her feet, Angela Farmer proved her theory: the material actually helped with the slipping and the sweating.
More brands would then release a myriad of options for modern-day yogis many years later. Sustainable, moisture-wicking, anti-odor, portable, reversible—name it. But the more our options widen, the more difficult it gets to find the right one.
So, we decided to compile here the top importance and benefits of yoga mats to help you get the one that’s perfectly tailored to your needs.
6 key benefits of yoga mats for 21st-century yogis
A good quality yoga mat brings a relaxing, safe, and stimulating yoga experience when they can offer you the following benefits.
1. Holds your balance and posture
The right yoga mat provides firm ground, especially for your advanced standing and sitting asanas. Its rock-solid stability can easily sustain your balance longer as you move in and out of your poses. It's quite a lifesaver, really, since holding a downward-facing dog with hands and feet frequently sliding on the mat is every yogi's nightmare.
But here’s the thing: some yoga mats are more slippery and less absorbent than others.
To enjoy the benefits of yoga mats, refrain from settling for a low-grade one, particularly if you're into hot yoga, which can trigger a lot of sweat. Test and try everything (or compare reviews if you’re buying online) until you find a good quality mat that’s grippy enough to help you hold a steady, wobble-free posture.
Do your research and weigh your options. After all, it's your constant yoga companion, so see that your investment has the ability to support your practice in the long run.
2. Cushions your body and joints
Whether you're sitting in a lotus position or performing any quad stretch or inversion poses, the best yoga mats can save you pain and discomfort down the line. They provide extra layers of cushioning to prevent straining your joints and muscles during your yoga practice.
Imagine carrying out a series of kneeling poses without a yoga mat, or with one that's too thin. Soon enough, the bone-to-floor contact is more likely to hurt your hands and knees—and here's where the need for a thick yoga mat comes in.
According to the Yoga Authority, the ideal thickness is between a 6mm and a 4mm yoga mat, depending on your preference (comfort vs. portability, respectively). They also noted that though thicker mats offer the best comfort, thinner mats still provide better balance for tricky postures. So in case of indecision, you can also opt for 5mm yoga mats like our Hero Mat to maximize the benefits from both ends.
Anyone who's into yoga can tell the importance of a yoga mat for a restful yoga experience. And apparently, it all starts by cushioning your body and joints.
3. Prevents slipping and injury
More than stability and comfort, the benefits of yoga mats also extend to your safety. As mentioned earlier, there's a range of asanas that can make you sweat, which can be fulfilling and rewarding in all senses.
But when these beads of sweat fall from your skin and tumble to the surface, the downside happens: you become more susceptible to slipping and injuries.
Yoga is a life-changing and restorative experience, but it's not without risk. That's why finding the right yoga mat is crucial to mitigate the chances of strains and sprains, fractures, and dislocations when you're on your stances.
You can go for a non-slip, moisture-wick mat tailored to your physique like our high-absorbent Hero Mat, especially if you’re self-practicing at home. This way, you can reduce the risk of injury by executing postures smoothly and safely.
Having a yoga mat that can wick away sweat, absorb moisture, and support your posture is a one-step up toward a safer yoga practice.
4. Allows concentration and mental focus
Your yoga mat is where you can find and synchronize with your inner flow. And when your mind isn't scattered catching your mat's distracting smell, annoying curls, and unstable grip, you can effortlessly execute that flow.
In a flow state, you feel connected to what you're doing and you eventually reach a state of tranquility. Yet it's easy to break it with a bad yoga mat, or the lack thereof. Your breathing and movements are likely to get disrupted when you're persistently toiling over the surface you're practicing on.
To ensure that you'll get a quality yoga mat that can improve your concentration and mental focus, solicit brand recommendations from your yoga teachers and peers. What are their top choices? How do their mats elevate their performance?
The physical ground you anchor into dictates your flow, so smartly investing in it is a tipping point for you and your yoga ventures.
5. Corrects your hands and feet placement
Ask your yoga teachers, and they’d tell you the same: your alignment is the core foundation of an efficient and effective yoga practice. It's like a building block to help you get the full benefits of your asanas, from increased flexibility to improved blood circulation.
Today in a post-Covid world where most yoga classes happen online, it's easier to observe proper body placement with an alignment yoga mat. The visible lines on its surface allow you to maintain accurate positions and achieve equilibrium during all your practices.
Finding the right mat to correct your hands and feet placement is vital to prevent sharp pains that may further lead to injury. Our Hero Mat - Align Series above, for instance, follows our EasyAlign Alignment System to assist your every movement once you step on your mat.
These alignment benefits of yoga mats may not be visible at first, but their effects are cumulative and can refine your practice in the long run.
6. Personalizes your yoga experience
Each time you roll down your yoga mat, you define your safe space. You stay still. You reconnect with your unique personal realities. You let go of phone calls, e-mails, deadlines, bills, and the life off your mat in general.
That’s why beyond the surface it offers for your asanas, your mat also acts as your go-to sanctuary where you can reboot and make peace with yourself. Rianna Gatus, a Filipina yoga teacher from Inner Power Vinyasa, beautifully described it in a feature article:
Using a mat that speaks your language and reflects your values makes the whole yoga experience worthwhile. So you might as well grab one that can inspire you to show up and actually be with yourself.
Once your yoga mat excites you to connect with yourself and your earthly boundaries each waking day, that's when you know that you’re already off on an incredible yoga journey.
Reap the benefits of yoga mats with our Hero Mat series
Your yoga mat is your safe space—literally and figuratively. From holding your posture and cushioning your body to increasing your safety and concentration, the right mat can upgrade your entire yoga experience.
Here in Elo, we value the importance of a yoga mat for every body and everybody. We’re home to slip-free, high-grip yoga mats that are thoughtfully designed to meet your needs.
Anytime you're ready to meet your inner hero, just grab your Hero Mat here.