I spent my Anzac long weekend in the glorious warmth of a South Pacific tropical island. On the top of my list of things to pack were swimsuit, sunscreen, natural insect repellent…..and of course my yoga mat. Yep, my beloved yoga mat has travelled with me to a few destinations and is set for a few more later this year; only on this trip I opted to take my spare, cheap yoga mat with me. A decision that caused a little regret.
Now any yoga mat is better than no yoga mat – I mean, you could just use a towel or go without, but it is nice to have a decent buffer between you and the sand, grass or floor.
At the risk of sounding like a sales pitch (I’m not selling or getting paid to promote any yoga gear) I really do believe that a good yoga mat is a sound investment. Many students are surprised by the price tag of a good yoga mat – you can expect to pay anywhere from $70 upwards depending on your criteria, so you need to look at what you’re getting for your money. The most coveted feature is a mat that you won’t slide off when you start to get a little sweaty, followed by decent thickness for that buffer between you and your practice surface, then there’s environmental factors such as the materials used, longevity and durability and finally ethical considerations.
There are a few brands I’ve recommended over the years - Lululemon for a well priced, grippy mat; Manduka for longevity and therefore sustainability as well as performance; and more recently LovEarth for their grippy, natural PVC free mats – they even have tips on how to repurpose your old mat – reducing landfill.
If you’re just starting out then using your local studio’s mats is an option that is in some ways better than buying a cheap mat – I say this based purely on the idea of reducing waste and landfill – if you’re concerned about hygiene then you can always take a towel along to use over the top or ask your studio how often their mats are cleaned.
To be honest my studio mats do not meet all of these requirements – that was the pay-off for being able to offer any mats at all when opening. As these mats wear out I will look at replacing them with a more sustainable alternative, while also finding ways of repurposing the old ones rather than just throwing them out.
Yoga is so much more than the poses we do on our mats; it is about our interactions and impact on the world. Is your future mat made using natural or sustainable materials by people earning a fair wage?
Check out the Yoga Mama Facebook photo competition to find out how you can win a LovEarth Eco Yoga Mat valued at $95 this month. Click here for details.