Yoga mats are a must-have accessory for people who like to practice this ancient form of meditation, self-control, and body awareness. Yoga is very beneficial to both the body and the mind, but we’re not going to focus on the benefits of yoga today. Today, it’s all about knowing what thickness of mats is right for each level of expertise and what are the differences between opting for a thick or a thin mat.
Factors to Be Considered
When you’re buying a yoga mat and are not sure what thickness to choose, there are three main things to take into consideration: the weight of the mat, your level of yoga expertise, and any special requirements your body might have:
- Naturally, thickness and the weight of a mat are strictly related to one another. Thin yoga mats will weigh considerably less than thicker yoga mats, which is important if you’re interested in the portability of such a product. If you have to go to a yoga class by foot frequently, carrying around a heavyweight mat will be highly uncomfortable. Also, if you travel a lot and want a mat that goes in your luggage, choosing a thick mat will make it heavier, and therefore more difficult to carry/include in the luggage.
- Your skill expertise and the type of yoga that you practice are factors that also have a say in what thickness to choose for your mat. For example, if you practice restorative yoga, you want a mat that provides added support and cushioning, in which case a thicker mat is a better choice. However, if you practice yoga that requires balance and holding a complicated pose for longer, then you want a thinner mat. As far as one’s level of expertise is concerned, know that people who have just started practicing yoga will require to consider the fact that they have easier poses and cushioning and support are more important to them in this initial stage of their yoga journey.
- Last, but not least, you will have to consider your body’s special requirements. For instance, if you suffer from a medical condition or have any experience with muscle or joint pain, you will have to prioritize cushioning and choose a thicker mat that will prevent you from feeling any unnecessary pain.
The Pros and Cons of Thin Mats
Narrowing it down to the most simplistic categorizing, yoga mats can be either thin or thick. Naturally, each one of these types of mats comes with its own series of pros and cons, and by understanding them, you will learn to see what type of yoga rug could best serve your purposes:
- Thin yoga mats make it easier for people to maintain balance during more complicated yoga poses.
- Being thin, they are also lighter in weight, which makes them good for traveling or for people who need a practical mat they can take to yoga classes on a regular basis. Also because they are thin, they are easy to store, as you can fold them or roll them up and get them out of the way.
- Since they have less material in their construction, they dry easier. This is important for people who practice hot yoga and have to clean their mats after every session.
- On the other hand, thin mats are not recommended for people who have medical conditions (such as arthritis), or are constantly prone to experiencing joint pain.
- Thin yoga mats are not recommended for people who practice yoga outdoors, particularly if the terrain is rocky or filled with debris that can easily be felt through the surface of the mat.
The Pros and Cons of Thick Mats
Just as with thin mats, thick mats also provide a series of advantages and disadvantages that every yogi should know about before purchasing one:
- Because of the extra padding that thick mats offer, they are a better choice for people who have different medical conditions or to those who often experience pains and aches.
- Those who practice outdoor yoga will also benefit greatly from the extra cushioning provided by thicker mats, especially if the ground is not leveled or is filled with debris.
- One of the first disadvantages of buying and using a thick yoga rug is the fact that you might not get enough contact with the ground. This could stand in the way of more complicated poses, as the extra thickness prevents proper balance.
- Needless to say, thicker yoga mats are heavier and bulkier, making them more difficult to carry around.
Yoga Mat Thickness Options
Let’s examine some numbers so that you can have an idea of what “thick” and “thin” yoga mats really are:
- ¼ inches or 6 mm mats: Known for being very popular amongst yogis, these mats are very easy to find as most large yoga mat manufacturers make them in this thickness option. They provide a great balance between cushioning and durability, but they fall on the heavier side, which makes them difficult to carry around in certain situations.
- ⅛ inches or 3 mm mats: The next level in mat “thinness” is this one. These mats are known for the support and durability they also, but they are also easier to take to classes compared to the ones above. They also tend to be less expensive compared to 6 mm mats.
- ½ inches or 12 mm mats: This is just about the thickest yoga mat that you can buy. However, plenty of people say that this is not the ideal mat for yoga, because its thickness makes it almost impossible to maintain a more complicated pose without losing balance. Needless to say, such a thick mat is also heavy and bulky, which is why the ¼-inch version is still the best choice.
- 1/16 inches or 2 mm mats: This is the thinnest version of a yoga mat that you can get your hands on. It is the preferred option for people who travel and need a mat that’s lightweight, foldable, or easy to roll up and store inside the luggage. But, since this is a very thin mat, wear and tear also become visible a lot faster. On the bright side, they do offer plenty of traction.
As you can see, there are plenty of choices when it comes to yoga mat thickness, but you have to understand that when you practice yoga, you can’t just buy any yoga mat and “make it work”. What is the best choice for you? Consider everything above and pick the right one for you. You have to pay close attention to what your body needs and trust it, as it is the beacon that will guide you towards the right mat thickness.