We talked about keeping mats clean a little while ago on the old blog (head here for the recipe), so for this post I wanted to throw a little light on the yoga mat itself. What the heck do we buy?! There're so many mats out there, at so many price ranges, it's frankly a bit mental. So here's my humble thoughts on the mat-madness:
Low price range: alright guys, I really can't love tkMaxx more here. I get all my class mats from here. Be careful though, the cheapest (and most common) mats here are total crap. You want to look out for Gaiam mats (other brands are around too) which are at least 5mm thick and don't collapse to nothing when you squish them. Often referred to on their snazzy packaging as 'luxury' or some such marketing poop. But not really, as these'll only take you back around £12-15. (*Sometimes* they might take you into the mid-range category, but not often.)
Mid range: head here to find mats a little more expensive (and, in theory, ones which'll last way longer). There's some crazy-priced mats on this page, but check out the ones around the £30-40 mark - the Classic mats. These are Yoga Matters' own brand and, really, they're pretty ace from my experience.
High budget: if you practice a lot, it's definitely worth it. They'll last for years, if not forever with some deals out there. My first mat splurge was about £60 on a Manduka ProLite (check 'em here), and I know a few teachers who swear by Manduka's Pro coming in about £75. My latest was the Yoga Design Lab Combo mat at £64, really great if you sweat a lot as you'll stick like glue to this mat, but for my Reynaud's Syndrome and typically chilly feet, I've got my eye on a stickier mat. The Suga mat to be precise, coming in (with lifetime guarantee and shipping) at about £130. It's made from recycled wetsuits though, so I totally dig this and makes me feel the pricy is totally justifiable (even if it's actually not...).
And, whatever mat you end up with (especially the lower-budget ones), brand new mats can use a little airing outside if you have space (or on a bannister or back of a chair). Leave it for a few days until any smell reduces.Really though, there can a lot of snobbery around the yoga mat thing. Just go with something that'll inspire you to throw it out for practice regularly, price range included. It's about the yoga, not the mat. And if, like me, you're waiting for your savings to go up enough to justify the Suga mat, just yoga on your kitchen tiles. It's all good.