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Yoga Mat from Society6
A furtive glance around the yoga studio will show you that yoga mats are as varied as their owners. Different shapes, sizes and colors abound, so you might be wondering if your mat is the right one for you. While comfort level may dictate the thickness and material for your yoga mat, your practice will have the greatest bearing on which size will work best. By knowing what's available, you can find the ideal mat.
The length of your mat may dictate just how wide you open into a Warrior pose, so choose one that lets you get the deepest stretch possible. A standard yoga mat is 68 inches long, but you can also find longer lengths in 72, 74 and even 78 inches if you're taller or prefer a little more room. Extend Yoga notes that a standard yoga mat length works best for most people under 6-feet tall.
Wide yoga mats are less common than longer lengths, but they are available. A standard yoga mat is 24 inches wide, but if you need a wider mat, oversized models range anywhere from 30 to 36 inches. This can be helpful when you want to extend your body out to the side, like spreading your hands apart during Upward-Facing Dog, which can help create a more stable foundation.
The average thickness for a standard yoga mat is 1/8 of an inch. While it may seem thin, it offers stability while maintaining traction and protection from the floor. If you find you need more support, consider a thicker mat -- 1/4 inch of thickness can protect joints and may be more effective for fast-moving yoga practices, such as Ashtanga. Just remember that the thicker the mat, the less stability you have in your poses.
The first incarnation of yoga sticky mats were actually made from carpet padding, according to "Yoga Journal." Today, stick mats -- those that are slightly tacky -- help keep yogis from sliding out of poses for better posture and concentration. The amount of "tack" you like is a personal preference. Yoga that requires quick movements or plenty of sweat -- such as hot yoga -- may require stickier mats for better traction, while standard mats made from PVC or thermal plastic elastomer foam offer some traction for traditional practice.
About the Author
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.