I get this question a lot, and the truth is I don’t know.
I started my yoga adventures with a $20 Gaiam mat from Walmart. I chose it because it was inexpensive and I liked the color. I didn’t even know if I was going to like this “yoga thing”. I had that red mat for several years as a student and then a couple more as a teacher before I decided I could use a more “professional mat.” When I decided to upgrade I went with the Manduka Pro. Why? Because that’s what my teacher had and she seemed to like it. She had the black mat pro, which I thought was very cool. When I ordered my mat Manduka had just started making it in colors! So, I got a redish one that looked a lot like my first mat but it was a “pro” - a little thicker, a little heavier, a lot more money (for my budget) than my first mat.
Personally, I have only really used those two mat brands in my practice. I have heard that the Jade mats are nice. I’ve also been told that the Lululemon mats are good if you take hot sweaty classes. I know that some people like to use thicker exercise mats in their practice - I find those to be a greater challenge to balance poses.
The fact is, it doesn’t really matter what kind of mat you have. Yoga is not about the mat! It is a western addition to the practice. Yoga can be practiced on a mat, on a towel, or even on a bare floor. So, don’t let the decision about a mat stress you out!
That being said, if you are mat shopping, ask friends or teachers what mats they use and why. Look around at the different options within your price range. Choose a mat that you love to look at. That you want to sit/stand/be on. A mat that makes you feel good when you take it out to practice. When I chose my “professional” mat, I got it in the same color as my first mat because that connection to my very first mat makes me feel something. Sometimes it’s just a mat; but sometimes it’s my safe place or my happy place or my peaceful place.
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