HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT YOGA MAT
Yoga has gained in popularity and achieved a massive global following, encompassing all age groups and different regions. If we talk about the UAE, there are hundreds of institutes, retreats and studios across the country promoting a healthy lifestyle via their offline and online Yoga classes.
The charm of Yoga is not limited to any age or specific group of people. Schools are offering Kids Yoga as an ECA (Extra Curriculum Activity), corporates are opting for Yoga as a training tool to motivate teams and build team spirit, and neighbourhoods and residential communities are getting together to organise morning yoga classes.
Fit and enthusiastic youngsters; walking around the parks with Yoga Mats rolled under their arms is a common and motivating site.
Yoga is indeed very beneficial. It improves strength, flexibility, breathing, balance, back pain, and depression and is a perfect workout which can be carried out indoors or outdoors.
What is Yoga?
"Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self." - The Bhagavad Gita
Yoga is an ancient Indian discipline that encourages harmony between your mind, your body and your soul. It involves breathing, exercising and meditation.
What are the benefits?
Helps with Chronic Low-back Pain
Helps you with Anxiety and Stress
Provides Motivation and Positivity
Improves Sleep Quality
Breathing improves Heart Health
Boosts Alertness and Enthusiasm
Keeps you Energetic
Connects You with Nature
Who can do Yoga?
Yoga is a universal discipline which can be practiced by all age-groups and genders.
It has the power to strengthen your body and calm your mind.
It is beneficial for teenagers struggling with all the changes around them, individuals who work in demanding/ stressful/ challenging environments and the elderly who can adopt this discipline to improve their overall health, balance and sleep.
Can I practice Yoga without a Mat?
Yes, you certainly can! Natural Grass and Sand Beaches are ideal for Outdoor Yoga without Mat.
However, there are limitations in the Asana's/ Posture/ Form you choose. A mat is effective for both indoor and outdoor yoga as it helps in maintaining posture and balance. It also provides you with a clean and dry surface to work with.
As all Yoga Mats are a standard size, at your Yoga Studio or Institute it helps you define your own space for movement without getting in the way of any other student.
What are the Sustainable Mat options?
The journey of Yoga is all about self-discovery and connecting with nature.
Working on a Natural Material allows you to breathe non-toxic air and also nurtures your bond with a mat that doesn't need replacement every 3 months.
Best Sustainable Materials for Mat are:
Cork: from Natural Oak Tree
Cotton: Organic/ Recycled/ Natural
Rubber: from Natural Tree
Jute: from Natural Jute Crop
Natural Cork Yoga Mat
Cork is one of the most Natural and Sustainable materials available in the market for Yoga Mats. It is a hard base mat which has anti-bacterial and anti-slip qualities.
The Raw Cork is harvested by hands from the bark of the Cork Oak Trees. The skill required to strip away the bark carefully is unique and is passed down over generations.
It is a highly intense job where the bark is removed with absolute precision to ensure the tree continues to produce more bark in the future. It takes 9 to 12 years for the bark to grow back thick enough to be harvested again.
What makes Cork the Most Sustainable Materials?
After the cork is removed, the tree rejuvenates its bark – a completely renewable and sustainable process.
Cork bark rejuvenation absorbs CO2 from the air – the greenhouse gas that causes climate change.
The more cork harvested and rejuvenated, the more climate change is prevented.
Benefits of Cork Yoga Mat
Cork Mat provides the most holistic solution when choosing your yoga mat.
Cork Yoga Mats are great for hot yoga. The sweat from hot yoga and the natural wax the cork releases creates a sturdy grip during Yoga.
Cork is naturally antibacterial, which makes the yoga mats extremely hygienic and also removes the bad smell.
The pure and natural surface of Cork Mat feels amazing compared to toxic PVC.
The smooth finish of the cork mat gives you the feeling of touching the earth.
Cotton Yoga Mat: Organic and Natural
Cotton is one of the most iconic and loved Natural Fibre in the world. It is considered as the undisputed "King" of the Global Textile Industry.
Originally discovered in the Indus Valley (current day India and Pakistan around 6000 B.C.), cotton continues to be distributed from its origin country India across the globe.
Cotton fibre used for making the mat is extremely durable and resistant to abrasion.
Cotton accepts many dyes, is easily washable, and can be ironed at relatively high temperatures.
It is foldable, comfortable and absorbs/ releases moisture quickly.
What makes Cotton a Sustainable Material?
Cotton is a plant based fibre and is naturally biodegradable, which makes it the perfect choice for sustainable fabrics.
Organic Cotton crop has low impact on environment as the farmers have to maintain the health of soil with organic fertilisers to ensure the superior quality of cotton.
Benefits of Cotton Yoga Mat
Cotton Mat provides the most comfortable and hygienic solution when choosing your yoga mat.
1. Easy Maintenance
3. Improves Balance during Exercise
4. Provides Comfort Feeling
5. Provides Stability
6. Better Grip
7. Perfect for Meditation
Natural Tree Rubber infused with Natural Jute
90% of all natural rubber comes from the Brazilian rubber tree, “Hevea Brasiliensis”, which is native to the Amazon Basin and a member of the euphorbia family.
Natural Rubber is extracted by a method called Tapping. For Tapping incisions are made into the bark of the tree and the fluid is collected into vessels attached to the rubber trees. (As shown in the image)
The liquid is a sticky, milky sap called latex, and requires a couple of steps before it will be sold as natural rubber. The production of natural rubber is sustainable and environment friendly. The process of collecting the fluid
Jute is a very versatile fibre. It is extensively used for sacking of agricultural goods and now more and more eco-conscious/ environment friendly companies are investing in reintroducing Jute as an alternative to plastic.
95% of World’s Jute is produced in India & Bangladesh.
The tropical lowlands areas with humidity of 60% to 90% are ideal for Jute. West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Orissa in India are popular for their Jute cultivation.
What makes Jute and Tree Rubber Sustainable Materials?
Jute is a plant based fibre and is naturally biodegradable, it grows without the use of pesticides and fertilisers which makes it the perfect choice for sustainable fabrics.
Jute increases the fertility of land, preserve the ozone layer by absorbing CO2 and clean the air by emitting O2.
Natural Tree Rubber comes from tapping the plants which makes it a renewable resource. In order to achieve a high quality of Natural Rubber the farmers must choose sustainable methods of plantation.
The harvesting of Natural Rubber tree benefits the environment and controls the deforestation.
Benefits of Jute Infused Natural Rubber Yoga Mat
The Jute Infused Yoga Mat provides absolute comfort, friction and necessary hardness which is required in Yoga.
Natural Jute Infused in the top layer of the Mat helps with keeping a strong grip while exercising.
The Natural Rubber provides soft cushioning which allows you to stay in a position for longer without slipping.
Best for Planks, Push-ups, Surya Namaskar, Chest Extensions, Cross Crunches, Squats to name a few!
How to select the Yoga Mat?
Shopping always brings a smile and makes you feel good, but it feels a little different when you must invest in a product that is going to look after your health.
The decision to buy a Yoga Mat can be tough and frustrating. And despite the, countless options available in the market, the purchase is often limited to either the Most Expensive or the Safe Black Mat!
The decision should not be based on your favourite colour or the most expensive brand available in the market. Your decision should be based on what suits your body and its fitness.
Questions to ask yourself before buying a Yoga mat:
1. How often are you planning to practice? Once a week, twice a week or every day?
Tip: Remember you need to ensure your Mat is cleaned/ sanitized everyday.
2. Where are you planning to do yoga most of the time? Inside of the studio, outside in the park, maybe on the beach? What surface – soft or rough?
Tip: Ensure to look for the right thickness and weight.
3. Are you planning to take your yoga mat whenever you travel?
Tip: Check if can it be easily rolled/ folded and stored in your luggage.
4. What kind of yoga will you be doing most of the time? Restorative yoga with passive exercises and breathing, or maybe you’re an ardent hot yoga fan?
Tip: Look for the material that can absorb the sweat and keeps the mat anti-slip.
How to choose the right thickness for the mat?
To perform Yoga, we follow certain asana. According to Sadhguru "An asana is a posture. There are innumerable postures your body can take. Among these, certain postures have been identified as "yoga asanas" or yogasanas. There are 84 yogasanas".
Each yogasana requires a certain balance and composure. Thus, choosing the right thickness of your yoga mat is important to enjoy your holistic journey of self-discovery.
The yoga mats come in thin and thick version.
Thin (1mm to 2mm thickness): Thin mats help increase stability. You can perform more active, balanced and focused poses with ease. A textured surface on a thin mat will always provide a better grip when the poses get more strenuous.
Thick (3mm to 5mm thickness): Thick mats provide extra cushioning and are best for more therapeutic practices. Thicker mats are ideal if you enjoy restorative yoga, where you hold one position for long instead of switching to various positions after every few mins. The softness of the thick yoga mat allows you to be more comfortable while kneeling.
Your body posture follows your mental and emotional state. When you are happy you sit in one way. When you are unhappy you sit in another way. When you are peaceful you sit one way, if you are angry you sit another way.
Many times, you can tell what is happening with someone by just observing them. Based on this, conversely is the science of asanas - by consciously getting your body into a certain posture, you can also elevate your consciousness.
You can change the very way you feel, think, understand and experience life by sitting in a particular way.
Yogasana is not an exercise, it is a subtle process of manipulating your energy into the desired direction.