Thicknesses range from 1/8 to 1/4 inches. Most yoga mats have
thicknesses around 1/5 inch -- which is recommended if practicing on a hard
surface -- but premium mats closer to 1/4 inch and super-thin yoga mats and
towels around 1/20 inch thick are also offered. Some practitioners prefer
thinner mats, which allow them to feel more stable on the ground.
Yoga style matters. For instance, people who practice vigorous
Ashtanga or Bikram yoga -- more intensive styles that generate a good amount of
sweat -- should look for mats with a solid nonslip surface or invest in a yoga
towel. Some heavy sweaters prefer open-celled yoga mats, which absorb sweat and
prevent slips, but they can be less hygienic and harder to clean than
mats smell. Rubber and plastic mats, in particular, are notorious for their strong
odors, which can take several weeks to subside. To combat this, experts
recommend washing your yoga mat with warm water and mild soap or vinegar
and letting it air out for several days. If you're extra sensitive to
smells, consider a mat made with more mild materials like dried grass,
cork or jute.
clear of direct sunlight. Yoga mats,
especially eco-friendly ones, can break down and weaken faster when
exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods. To extend the life of
your mat, you also should avoid storing your yoga mat in a hot car.
Some mats can pull double duty. Many yoga mats can also be used for mat Pilates. For this
purpose, experts suggest a firm and supportive yoga mat that has a thickness of
at least 1/4 inch. This extra support is important since this form of exercise
requires a good deal of hip and spine work. However, experts warn against using
a Pilates mat for yoga, since Pilates mats usually don't have surfaces that
grip to prevent injury.
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