Exercise! - Yoga mats

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05-15-2011, 01:37 PM
I have recently become quite enamored of yin yoga and because of this have started doing a bit of hatha. Thus far, all of my practice has been done at home on carpet, but because several local studios offer yin and one even has a fat people hatha class, I'll be starting classes soonish.
For those of you who have yoga experience, what is your opinion of thicker mats (1/4") or wider ones (27" or 36" instead of 24")? I am 5'4" and about 260. Since I will be doing a lot of yin, I like the idea of a thicker mat, but will that compromise stability in a traditional class with less floor work? Is the wider mat necessary for fat people or would I be just as comfortable with a 24" wide mat? I'm particularly curious about this since standard mats are cheaper and have MANY more options for materials, designs, and colors.

05-15-2011, 08:07 PM
I consider myself an intermediate-advanced practitioner (have been practicing for 5+ years, can do advanced poses such as sirsasana and scorpion) and honestly have found that the cheap Gaiam mats work perfectly fine. Mine is medium thickness and normal width. I practice between 1 and 5 times a week and mine has lasted over a year and a half without any fraying. I have this one (http://www.gaiam.com/product/flower+of+life+yoga+mat.do) and I love it because I can use the design to help properly align my feet/hands. :)

I too used to be concerned about the thickness of a mat, but for a slightly different reason. I have something called Osgood-Schlatter, which is a disease of the knee joint, and have visible bumps of bone under my knee from it. It hurts to do poses like camel or other asanas which require pressing the knee firmly into the floor. I found I still have to double up my mat, use a doubled-up towel, etc for the thicker mats. For me, they do not help much more than thinner ones for this and other discomforts that can be associated with pressing weight into a joint/body part, so I've opted for a thinner one due to the price difference.

Not sure that helps, but just to say I wouldn't worry about spending a ton of money on a fancy mat. Maybe your first few times you can try out what the studio has for rent/borrowing to see which thicknesses or widths work for you... it could be that a slightly more high-end one is comfortable, but decide that based on your own experiences, not because fancy yoga stores tell you you need one :D

05-15-2011, 09:46 PM
I'm a beginner and do mostly vinyasa flow yoga, but the classes I take are on the intermediate side and I also get by just fine with the Gaiam mat I got at walmart. Although I will say I've been tempted to get a new one at lululemon with a fancy design;)

ETA: indi I googled those postures - I'm officially impressed!

05-15-2011, 10:38 PM
You should be fine with a regular width mat. It's your hands and feet that need to be on the mat, and I think the wider ones are for men with very wide shoulders. I wish I had a longer mat. I'm 5'8" and hanging off my mat half the time.

I have a lululemon mat that I got for $29 I think, but they don't appear to be selling it right now. I think a basic mat is good, although mine is showing wear where my heels hit during vinyasas.

05-16-2011, 11:19 AM
I, too, use the Gaim, but I'm pretty beginner. I've practiced on and off for a few years but not religiously.

However, a very good friend of mine is training to become an instructor, and I asked her this question as well. She said a manduka mat is REALLY worth the money. I've checked their reviews and they're amazing. But, I am just not advanced enough to shell out that kind of cash. If I stick with yoga for a year or longer I would get one, but for now I do the cheapie.


05-21-2011, 10:20 PM
Haha thanks ncuneo, owe a lot to gymnastics lessons when I was a kid... learning back handsprings and headstands and other advanced poses when I was much more spry has helped me tremendously 10-15 years later when my body is a little more resistant to learning more tricks.

Also full disclosure... my scorpion is not nearly as lovely as the ones that pop up on google images :D.

SBD Sass
05-21-2011, 11:35 PM
I practice Bikram Yoga and I use the Target brand yoga mat (the one located right next to the Gaiam ones). I also use the Target brand yoga towel that goes on top of the mat to use to catch sweat. I own a thicker mat I got on clearance at TJ Maxx some time ago and I like that mat too, but it rolls up too thick and I can't fit it into my yoga bag (I don't like the straps) and carrying around is too bulky so I go with the cheaper thin ones.

05-24-2011, 07:24 PM
I am a beginner at yoga and I use the lululemon one. My instructor said for that for poses where you want something thicker, you can just fold your mat a bit!

05-24-2011, 07:31 PM
I have both a regular cheapo $15 mat from tjmaxx, and a thicker/longer one I got from amazon. It took me like 3 months to break in my el cheapo mat, and I've tried the thicker one a few times in class, but I don't use it anymore because I'm so frustrated with slipping all over the place. However, it sure is nice to have the extra length, because there are just so many poses where either my feet or head are off the matt, and it's just nice not to worry about where my mat is and how far I have to move. The thickness can definitely hinder you in some poses, like tree pose, but it's easy enough to just move onto the floor

My sister is about a size 22, and she much prefers the extra thickness of the bigger/thicker mats. She cannot hold down dog and plank and stuff as long on the thinner mats because she says the weight is just too much on her wrists and the thick mats help her a ton. I'll link you to my thick mat if you like. I'd totally use it all the time if it was broken in (I don't think it was even that much more)

05-25-2011, 02:41 PM
I have a gaim from Target-I would love to get a Jade Yoga mat though. Or a nice THICK mat.