When you decide to take yoga classes there are a few things you are going to have to consider, not the least being the mat you buy. Perhaps you think that you can just grab one off the shelf, but it isn't as simple as that. You need to consider what material to buy and see if the texture feels right. Even more important is the thickness of the mat.
There are very thin mats that are good if you are traveling as you can easily roll them up so that they fit in your suitcase. Then you have thicker mats which will soothe you as you do your exercises. You can get the largest range of choices in thickness from mats that are made from PVC or vinyl. There are fewer options if you want to be eco-friendly and choose a mat made from natural materials such as jute or bamboo.
Yoga mats range from 1/16 inch at the thinnest to 1/4 inch at the thickest. An average mat measures 1/8 inches.
So, what are the benefits of choosing a thick mat? For a start, they are advantageous for beginners who aren't used to sitting or lying on a hard floor. As you get more experienced you may choose a thicker mat if you like to do restorative classes. In these classes, you spend a lot of time on the floor lying down or being seated. You will need to give some support to your head and back and a thicker mat will help. If you are slim a thicker mat will also help you otherwise you will find your bones digging into the floor.
There are quite a lot of positions that a thicker mat will help with, for example, the Camel where you have to kneel, the Chaturanga where you have to drop your knees and Crescent Lunges where you have to keep kneeling. A thicker mat will also cushion your tailbone in poses such as the Boat. Leg crosses and breathing exercises can lead to ankle pain, but with a thicker mat, this pain is minimized. In the aero yoga, one person is on the floor and holds onto the other person’s feet up in the air. A thicker mat gives extra support and padding to the one who is in the air. If you are doing positions with your knees you may want to use a rolled-up yoga mat. This will give you extra support.
Extra Thick yoga mats can give extra support to older people who are new to yoga. Perhaps you haven’t done a lot of exercise in recent years and are worried about sitting on the floor. A thick mat will help to lessen any pain that might be felt with a thin mat.
The only real disadvantage with a thick yoga mat is that you might feel less connectivity to the floor. If you are doing the Tree Pose, for example, you may feel a little wobbly. In addition, thicker mats can be harder to balance on while doing standing positions.
In the long run, it is all a matter of personal preference, but in the end, a thick yoga mat is more comfortable. And it’s a great yoga gift!
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