Table of Contents Hide
- What Makes a Yoga Mat “Intermediate”?
- Some of the Best Yoga Mat for Intermediate Level Practitioners
- Tips for Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for You
- Q1. Is it necessary to get a new yoga mat when moving from beginner to intermediate level?
- Q2. What is the ideal thickness for a yoga mat for intermediate practitioners?
- Q3. Is a natural rubber yoga mat better than a PVC one?
- Q4. How often should I replace my yoga mat?
- Q5. Can I clean my yoga mat in the washing machine?
Discover the best yoga mat for intermediate practitioners. Explore top options like Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm and Manduka PROlite Yoga Mat, and get tips on how to choose the best mat for your practice.
So, you’ve moved past the beginner stage of yoga and now consider yourself an intermediate yogi. Congratulations! 🎉 You’ve mastered the basic poses, started building strength and flexibility, and probably experienced some of the mental benefits of yoga as well. Now, it’s time to upgrade your gear. More specifically, it’s time to find the best yoga mat for intermediate practitioners like yourself.
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But wait! Before we dive deep into the ocean of yoga mats, let’s get some facts straight. The best yoga mat for intermediate yogis isn’t just any mat. It’s a mat that can support your evolving practice, provide the right amount of grip and cushioning, and is durable enough to withstand regular use. Moreover, your yoga mat should align with your values, whether that means it’s eco-friendly, made by a brand that supports good causes, or simply comes in your favorite color.
According to a survey conducted by the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, over 20.4 million Americans practice yoga. That’s a lot of people in need of yoga mats! And with the growing popularity of yoga, the market for yoga mats has exploded. There are mats made of all kinds of materials, from natural rubber to PVC to cork. There are thick mats, thin mats, extra-long mats, and even travel-sized mats. And let’s not forget about the designs – from plain and simple to colorful and patterned.
It’s great to have options, but with so many choices available, it can be overwhelming to find the best yoga mat for intermediate practitioners.
What Makes a Yoga Mat “Intermediate”?
When you’re at the intermediate level, you’re not just doing simple stretches or holding basic poses. You’re likely practicing more advanced postures, maybe even trying out inversions and arm balances. Your practice involves more movement, more sweat, and hence, more demands on your mat. So, what should you be looking for in the best yoga mat for intermediate-level yogis?
Before you rush to buy the next eye-catching yoga mat you see online or in the store, here are some key factors you should consider:
Materials and Durability
When it comes to yoga mats, the material is everything. It affects the texture, stickiness, eco-friendliness, and the lifespan of your mat. Most yoga mats are made of PVC, TPE, natural rubber, or cork.
- PVC: Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the most common material found in yoga mats. It’s cheap, extremely durable, and can last for a very long time even with everyday use. However, it’s not biodegradable and isn’t the most eco-friendly option out there.
- TPE: Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) is a mixture of plastic and rubber. These mats are softer, lighter, and usually more eco-friendly than PVC. However, they are not as durable as PVC mats and may start to wear out sooner.
- Natural Rubber: Natural rubber mats are made from the sap of rubber trees. They are eco-friendly, biodegradable, and offer a good balance between cushioning and firmness. However, they can be a bit heavy and may have a strong rubber smell at first.
- Cork: Cork mats are made from the bark of cork oak trees. They are eco-friendly, biodegradable, and offer a unique texture that becomes more grippy as it gets wet. However, they can be a bit heavier and may crumble over time.
Durability is another crucial factor when selecting the best yoga mat for intermediate practitioners. You don’t want to invest in a mat that starts to crumble after a few months of use. PVC and natural rubber mats are generally the most durable options available. For example, the Manduka PROlite Yoga Mat, mentioned by New York Magazine and Self.com, is made of PVC and is known for its durability.
Thickness and Comfort
The thickness of your yoga mat can greatly affect your practice. Mats typically range from 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) to 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick.
- Thin Mats (1/16 – 1/8 inch): Thin mats provide a solid connection to the ground, which can help you feel more stable during balancing poses. However, they may not provide enough cushioning for your joints during kneeling or seated poses. For example, the Athleta Flow Freely Yoga Mat mentioned by Allure is 4.5 mm thick, which provides a good balance between thickness and connection to the ground.
- Standard Thickness (1/4 inch): Standard thickness mats provide a good balance between cushioning and stability. They are suitable for most practitioners and are the most common thickness found in yoga studios.
- Thick Mats (1/3 – 1/2 inch): Thick mats provide the most cushioning and are great for restorative or therapeutic yoga practices. However, they can make it more challenging to feel a strong connection to the ground and may not be suitable for dynamic practices.
For example, the Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm is 5mm thick, which provides a good balance between cushioning and stability. This makes it a suitable option for intermediate practitioners who are looking for a mat that provides both comfort and support.
Texture and Stickiness
The texture and stickiness of a yoga mat are crucial for maintaining grip and avoiding slips during practice. The texture can be either man-made, such as a patterned surface, or natural, such as the texture of the material itself.
- Texture: A yoga mat’s texture affects its feel and traction. A rough texture can provide more grip, while a smooth texture may feel softer and more comfortable. For example, cork yoga mats usually have a natural texture that provides excellent grip, even when wet. However, some people may find the rough texture of cork or jute mats uncomfortable for their hands and feet. PVC mats, such as the Manduka PROlite Yoga Mat, often have a soft and smooth texture, which many find comfortable. However, the stickiness of PVC mats often compensates for the lack of texture and helps maintain grip during practice.
- Stickiness: Stickiness is essential to maintain alignment and balance during poses. PVC mats are usually the stickiest, which helps you maintain your poses even when sweating. However, some eco-friendly mats made of TPE or natural rubber can also provide a good amount of stickiness.
For example, the Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm has a polyurethane top layer that provides excellent grip and stickiness, even during sweaty practices.
Standard yoga mats are about 68 inches long and 24 inches wide. However, if you are taller than average or prefer more space, you may want to opt for a longer and wider mat. There are also travel-sized mats available that are lightweight and easy to pack.
While the design of a yoga mat may not affect your practice directly, it can certainly affect your mood. Choose a design that makes you happy and motivated to practice.
If you are environmentally conscious, you may want to opt for a mat made of eco-friendly materials, such as natural rubber or cork. These materials are biodegradable and renewable.
Price and Brand
The price of yoga mats can vary significantly, from $15 to over $100. The cost usually depends on the material, durability, and brand. It’s essential to consider your budget, but also the longevity and performance of the mat.
- Brand Reputation: Reputable brands like Lululemon, Manduka, and Gaiam often produce durable mats that perform well. However, there are also many lesser-known brands that produce excellent mats at a lower price point. It’s essential to read reviews and do some research before purchasing a mat from an unknown brand.
- Warranty: Some brands offer a lifetime warranty on their yoga mats, which can be a significant advantage. A warranty indicates that the company stands behind its product and is confident in its durability.
For example, Manduka offers a lifetime warranty on some of its mats, including the PROlite Yoga Mat.
Style and Design
While the performance and durability of a yoga mat are the most important factors, the style and design can also be a consideration for many yogis.
Yoga mats come in a variety of colors, patterns, and designs. Some mats feature alignment lines or markings to help with proper alignment during practice.
It’s important to choose a mat that resonates with you and supports your practice. For some, a minimalist design may be preferable, while others may prefer a mat with vibrant colors and patterns.
For example, the Yoga Zeal Cork Moon Phases Printed Mat, mentioned by Vogue, features a beautiful moon phases design printed on a cork surface.
Some of the Best Yoga Mat for Intermediate Level Practitioners
The internet is flooded with lists of the best yoga mats, but few focus on the specific needs of intermediate level yogis. Here’s a list of some of the best yoga mats for intermediate level practitioners:
- Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm: This mat is recommended by both NY Times and SI.com. It provides a firm grip, even when you’re sweaty, and the 5mm thickness offers just the right amount of cushioning for your joints.
- Manduka PROlite Yoga Mat: Mentioned by New York Magazine and Self.com, this mat is known for its durability and support. It’s a bit pricier, but many yogis believe it’s worth the investment.
- JadeYoga Harmony Mat: This is a natural rubber option mentioned by NY Times as a runner-up. It provides excellent grip and cushioning, and for every mat sold, JadeYoga plants a tree.
- Yoloha Unity Cork Yoga Mat: This mat received the Editors’ Choice Award from outdoorgearlab.com. It’s made from cork and natural rubber, providing a non-toxic, eco-friendly option with excellent grip and cushioning.
Tips for Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for You
While these mats are all great options for intermediate level yogis, the best yoga mat for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Here are some things to consider when choosing a mat:
- Type of Yoga: The type of yoga you practice can greatly influence the mat you need. For example, if you practice hot yoga, you’ll need a mat with excellent grip even when wet. If you practice restorative yoga, cushioning may be more important to you.
- Material: Consider any allergies or preferences for eco-friendly materials. Natural rubber, cork, and TPE are all eco-friendly options.
- Thickness: Consider the thickness of the mat. A slightly thicker mat like the Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm can provide more cushion for your joints, while a thinner mat like the Athleta Flow Freely Yoga Mat mentioned by Allure may provide a better connection to the ground.
As you progress in your yoga journey, your needs will change, and so will the demands on your yoga mat. The best yoga mat for intermediate-level practitioners will provide grip and stability, even during sweaty practices, have enough cushioning to protect your joints, be durable enough to withstand daily practice, and be made of eco-friendly materials.
While the Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm, Manduka PROlite Yoga Mat, JadeYoga Harmony Mat, and Yoloha Unity Cork Yoga Mat are all excellent options, the best yoga mat for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Consider the type of yoga you practice, any allergies or preferences for eco-friendly materials, and the thickness of the mat when making your decision.
Remember, your yoga mat is the foundation of your practice. Invest in a good one, and it will support you as you continue to grow and evolve in your yoga journey.
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Q1. Is it necessary to get a new yoga mat when moving from beginner to intermediate level?
A: It’s not strictly necessary, but it may be beneficial. As you move into the intermediate level, your practice will involve more advanced postures and sequences, which may require a mat with better grip, more cushioning, and greater durability.
Q2. What is the ideal thickness for a yoga mat for intermediate practitioners?
A: The ideal thickness will depend on your needs and the type of yoga you practice. A standard thickness mat (1/4 inch) provides a good balance between cushioning and stability and is suitable for most practitioners. However, if you need more cushioning for your joints, a thicker mat (1/3 – 1/2 inch) may be preferable. If you prefer to feel a strong connection to the ground, a thin mat (1/16 – 1/8 inch) may be the best option for you.
Q3. Is a natural rubber yoga mat better than a PVC one?
A: Natural rubber mats are eco-friendly and provide excellent grip and cushioning. PVC mats are less eco-friendly and may become slippery when wet. However, PVC mats are often more affordable.
Q4. How often should I replace my yoga mat?
A: It depends on how often you use it and the quality of the mat. Generally, it’s a good idea to replace your mat every 1-2 years if you practice daily. If you notice your mat is becoming slippery, torn, or uneven, it’s time to replace it.
Q5. Can I clean my yoga mat in the washing machine?
A: It depends on the material of your mat. Some mats can be cleaned in the washing machine, while others should be cleaned by hand. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific mat.