Image By BalaYoga.com
Today my much-anticipated yoga mat arrived. I’d been wanting a new mat for a few weeks, but had lacked time to research my options. My old lime green Gaiam mat was starting to get holes in it and it seemed to have lost all of its oomph when it came to cushioning. It lived a nice, long life. I bought it in college after all. I have such great memories with this mat. I used to sling it in it’s mesh bag across my back before riding to campus on my bike. I’d get boba, go to class and go to yoga afterwards. Good times.
In the last month I’d peruse the mat selection at my yoga studio, which has a wide variety of colors, lengths and thickness, but only a couple of brands. Over the weekend when I nearly slipped during class because my mat is losing some grip, I figured it was time to explore Amazon.com to find a good one quickly since many of the mats at YogaWorks and on YogaJournal.com’s shop were too pricey. I would let the reviewers on Amazon help me decide.
And, honestly, I just didn’t want to pay $70-80 for a yoga mat. I mean, sure, I use it every day — especially because of my 28-day yoga challenge, but what are the real differences among brands like Gaiam, Manduka, JadeYoga, Agoy and Aurorae? Turns out, there are many and it can be pretty overwhelming.
I couldn’t have dreamed I would spend hours and hours reading about yoga mats, yoga mat companies and reviews by other yogi shoppers seeking the zen of a perfect mat. I agonized over the materials, prices, colors, lengths and thickness. The more I read, the more difficult my choice became because I knew TOO much. I had fallen down the proverbial rabbit role — not knowing that shopping for a yoga mat would be just as confusing and disarming as Alice’s fall through the looking glass. And that’s just it, choosing a mat was more than just selecting a useful piece of athletic equipment; picking a mat says something to your fellow yogis. It demonstrates your style, feelings about the environment and shows what kind of practitioner you are — if you choose a boring color, or a mat made out of PVC, instead of eco-friendly products or get the wrong length or thickness, you could totally look like a novice (or just someone who doesn’t care about the landfills filling up with discarded mats).
Maybe I’m over thinking it, but I wanted my mat to reflect me, my practice and my needs as an athlete. I also didn’t want these yoga toes leaving too big of a carbon footprint. So, what did I do? Here’s a quick cheat sheet I came up with so you don’t obsess the way I did.
My Tricks For Picking the Best Yoga Mat:
1. See the mats in person. Visit a yoga mat retailer and touch every type of mat. Get a feel for the texture, lengths, colors and thickness. Make note of what you like and what you don’t.
2. Do not make an impulse purchase. Avoid the temptation of walking out of the store with an overpriced mat. Do not buy one.
3. View options online. Go home and check out the online selection of mats on Amazon.com.
4. Narrow selections immediately. If you have Amazon Prime, you might as well filter buy Prime products only; especially since you were so eager to by that $80 mat earlier at the store. This way, you’ll get it in two days once you decide.
5. Go for the best. Sort your search results by the highest rated reviews. Begin reading about each type of mat and starting thinking about what you need in a mat. How thick is your current mat? Is it long enough? What would make your practice better?
6. Make it a 50-50 choice. Choose two mats that seem like the top rated products. Check out their websites to make sure they are legit and aren’t offering a special promotion that is cheaper than Amazon. Begin reading the reviews for both mats. Read the best ones, read the worst ones — make sure you also read the comments on the reviews. You’ll want to see how people respond to negative and positive review in case they disagree. I would also make sure there are a lot of reviews, if there are only a few, it might be a sign that it’s a new product or a bad one.
7. Budget.Consider the amount of time you spend using the mat and the amount of money you want to invest in your practice. Also consider how long you think the mat will last and if the price point fits into the amount you have to spend.
Northern Lights Yoga Mat By Aurorae
8. Talk it over with a friend. Tell a friends you are trying to find the best mat for your buck and then describe both mats. Tell your friend the pros and cons that matter to you and then see what he or she says about your options.
9. Make a decision. Ultimately, you need a mat, so once you’re pretty sure which mat will work best — buy it.Make sure there’s a good return policy in case you find it doesn’t work for you after all.
10. Try it out. Be your own best reviewer. Once the mat comes in the mail, try it out in the studio. If you have problems that can’t be fixed based on the reviewers notes return the merch, yogi! You have that second choice waiting for its test run.
Which mat did I choose, you ask? I went with the Northern Lights Yoga Mat by Aurorae because it had the best reviews I’ve ever read about a product. I had narrowed it down to Aurorae and Manduka mats because both had the best reviews. I ended up choosing the Aurorae mat because it was $45 as opposed to Manduka’s $84 for the BlackMat Pro or $63 for their PROlite. Plus, Aurorae has unbelievable customer service. In dozens of reviews the CEO of the company responds to people thanking them for reviewing his products or if there is negative feedback he wants to understand it and send it back to his company, and he gives away free stuff to entice his customer to remain loyal. And, it’s completely free of anything toxic or polluting when it’s produced or discarded. I also adore the ombre dip-dye effect in the colors. It’s so soothing!
On the other hand, Manduka has a lifetime guarantee for their mats, which is amazing, but I just couldn’t pass up this smaller brand. Plus, the Aurorae mat is machine washable and has a focal point to help you balance during tricky standing poses. Tomorrow I’ll test it out and if I don’t like it, I can always return it. According to YogaJournal, it’s when I have multiple mats that I’ll know how serious about yoga. Ha, finding one is enough for me right now. If anyone has thoughts about buying yoga mats, I’d love to read them.