Yoga is a beautiful ancient practice for everybody and every ability and is the perfect form of wholistic wellness to incorporate into your life. It can easily be practiced from the comfort of your own home, a studio or wherever you lay down your mat! The beauty of yoga is that you don't need a lot of equipment other than a good quality yoga mat, a few props, and a yoga mat bag or carrier to transport your gear.
Here, we share our guide to yoga mats, props, totes, and carriers and what to look out for when making your purchase. Whether you are a seasoned yogi looking for the best mat for your practice or a beginner looking to start, our guide will help you make an informed decision when investing in your yoga equipment.
What to Look For in Your Yoga Mat
Your yoga mat is an important piece of equipment. The right mat feels like an extension of your body. It feels inviting, calm and secure and provides the support you need to balance and find traction throughout your practice. Whereas the wrong mat, one that slips, curls, is too thick or thin, can really break the flow of your practice and general experience. So, ensuring you choose the right mat type, size and thickness for your practice is really important.
When looking for the right yoga mat for your practice, consider the following elements:
Typically, yoga mats range in thickness from 3mm to 10mm. It is often misconstrued that the thicker your mat, the easier it will be to reach particular poses. Thicker mats are great for seated poses or long holds like in Yin yoga, however, they are not great for standing poses where you require a stable surface to balance. Cork has amazing properties and provides a great level of cushioning which is why we used it in our ZONE yoga mat. Our mat is 3.5mm in thickness and made from cork and natural rubber.
It is also important to consider a mat’s grip. You want to feel stable on your mat all year round and decide on the level of grip that suits your needs and practice. Natural rubber is a great choice if you like your mat supper grippy however, it can make entry into some poses like forward and side splits quite tricky. Cork is a great option as it has a medium grip which gets grippier as you sweat due to the release of a waxy substance called suberin in cork. Cork has a smooth natural feel under foot and hand with the right level of cushioning making it a great all rounder for standing poses, inversions as well as splits where you need your foot to slide smoothly. Our cork yoga mat provides the best of both worlds giving you a dual sided grip option with cork on one side and natural rubber on the other.
While picking up a cheap Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) mat might seem like a great idea to start out, the material actually contains toxic chemicals like phthalates that do not break down in landfills and are harmful to you and the environment. Selecting an environmentally friendly yoga mat made from sustainable materials like cork and natural rubber, might come at a higher price point, but it will last considerably longer and not harm you or the environment in the process.
Since you may be taking your mat to work for classes after hours or transporting it to and from the car, it is vital to pick a mat that is not too heavy to carry around or travel with.
When creating our ZONE Cork Yoga Mat all of these aspects (and more) came into consideration. Our mat weights in at 3kg is made from sustainable cork leather and natural rubber that is eco-friendly, anti-bacterial, non-toxic, as well as PVC, latex, and phthalate-free. At 3.5mm thick, you can use either the cork or rubber side to best align with the yoga style and grip you need. We also have alignment lines on the mat to help you keep your foot and hand placement in check so that you can practice with precision and the correct technique.
To find out more about what type of mat will suit you best, check out our guide on choosing the right yoga mat.
Carrying Your Mat with Ease
After deciding upon the right yoga mat for you, it is essential to consider how you aim to maintain your mat’s longevity and hygiene. Yoga mats do not typically fit into an everyday gym bag, and their length often means they have to be carried by hand to and from the studio to your home. But if you are a regular yogi and do not want to be fumbling around with your yoga mat every session, choosing a carrier option can make a huge difference!
Over the last few decades, several different carrying methods have emerged, from straps to totes, bags, backpacks. So, we have provided a brief breakdown of the most popular ways to carry yoga mats:
Often you can use your yoga strap as a mat carrier. This is a great option because you can use your strap AND transport your mat! The down size is that if you plan on using additional props in your practice, you'll need another bag to carry them.
Our personal favourite is a yoga tote bag. While remaining compact, this cotton canvas yoga mat tote bag carrier can not only hold your mat, but it also have enough room for a yoga block, water bottle, keys and phone. You can wear it cross-body or over one shoulder and comes in a range of yoga tote bag colours to suit your personal style.
At the top price point is a yoga bag or backpack, designed for ease of use. It functions as a regular bag, so it is not as compact as a tote bag; however, it typically contains holds at the bottom to easily store your mat when not in use. It is a great option for advanced yogis or instructors who need to carry a lot to their classes.
Yoga mat bag on nature walk
Yoga props are really important in providing additional support and maintaining alignment when you cannot reach the full variation of a pose. This may be due to physical injury or our own physical limitations and we should always make sure we are supported so that the correct technique is maintained.
The most useful props to use in yoga are typically yoga blocks, a strap, a chair, a bolster and a blanket. The great thing about these props, like a chair, is that you can often find them around the house!
There are thousands of yoga blocks on the market today. Some are made from sustainable materials like our cork yoga blocks and others are made from toxic materials like polyurethane, PVC or EVA foam. The latter are often lighter in weight, however, harmful for you and the environment and should be avoided. If you don't have a yoga block, you can easily use items around the house like a stack of books.
Yoga straps are a great prop to extend your reach and deepen your practice whilst maintaining the correct technique and alignment. Our natural jute yoga strap is strong yet comfortable on the skin and also doubles as a yoga mat carrier. If you don't have a yoga strap, you can make do with a leather belt or even a belt from your bath robe.
Blosters and blankets
Bolsters are also a really great prop to use in yoga especially when you don't have the range of motion for some sitting poses. If you don't have a bolster, you can use cushions or pillows you have around the house. It's always a good idea to have a blanket close by to keep you warm during shavasana or a yoga nidra practice.
There is so much choice when shopping for the perfect yoga mat and accessories and it might seem like a daunting task, considering all the options available to us online. But after reading our ultimate guide, you now know what to look out for and some of the key aspects to consider before investing in your yoga equipment.
At ZONE by Lydia, we pride ourselves on making sure our products are not only good for you and your yoga, but are good for the planet. Our products and packaging are plastic free and made using sustainable materials and ethical practices. We are also Climate Neutral Certified, which means that our carbon footprint is offset by investing in nature based climate change projects like reforestation and soil regeneration. So when you shop with us, you are shopping premium quality and are shopping sustainably.
Check out our Cork Yoga Range now!