what do I need to start doing yoga? do I need a yoga mat? which yoga mat should I use? and why?
To start doing yoga all you really need is to breathe. We covered that in another blog post here. So what exactly do you need to get started? Nothing really! There are plenty of postures you can do on the floor or if your body is a little tender (which is totally normal) then a blanket is totally fine. Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will cover some easy yoga poses to do at home with just a blanket or the floor.
We remember getting started on the path of yoga. There was so much around and so many different avenues to get started on it was definitely a little overwhelming at first. But the good thing is that it doesn't really matter where you start, all that matters is that you do. The act of beginning and showing up is all that is necessary to get the magic flowing.
You can always do yoga outside on a grassy spot if you don't have access to a mat! Mother Earth always provides for us. You don't need blocks, or bolsters or straps.
Blocks: replace with big hardcover books!
Straps: Any belt will do!
But we believe yoga is, and should be, accessible for all bodies. That is why we prefer to adjust the postures to our own physical space, rather than changing the space around us with props. We personally love feeling our skin digging into that soft earthy blanket. That being said, yoga mats are definitely a really useful tool when you start to move into more active and often sweaty styles of yoga, particularly if you're not using Mother Earth as contact and start going into more artificial environments which tend to have more slippery surfaces. The yoga mat is useful in giving you a non-slip surface to grip onto when you are pushing into the floor with different parts of your body. And it gives you an easy way to tell whether or not you are aligning your body properly by being able to use the edges of the mat as guidelines.
Honestly, if you're on a budget, or just don't know if yoga will be your thing, Mother Earth is always an option, but if you want to get a mat any mat will do! The less expensive mats will definitely serve your practice more than a slippery surface so if you're wanting to try it out just go get any mat out there. The less expensive mats will definitely degrade faster than more expensive ones and they have a lot more give to them but they will do the trick until you're able, or willing, to make the investment into a more expensive mat. This is something that won't be an issue at first. However, as you develop your practice and ability to tune into ever-more-subtle states of awareness we have noticed people gravitate towards denser and firmer mats. This is simply because they provide a more stable, even surface and we can feel the imbalances from a squishy mat in our posture. This isn't something that will ruin your practice or will affect your postures in a detrimental manner. It's just something to be aware of, and eventually you might feel it, or not. That's the beauty of yoga, it lets you be wherever you are and however you need to be.
It's definitely a little difficult to get to the bottom of the question: which mat should I get? Specially when there are now so many different options out on the market. There's cork, rubber, towels, synthetic velvet, synthetic rubbers, the list goes on. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. But at the end of the day it comes down to a matter of preference. We'll give you our pro's and con's for each!
Pros: Naturally antimicrobial and anti-fungal. Dense and durable. Lightweight. Sustainable. Non-slip.
Cons: Staining is more visible.
Neutral: Doesn't have a lot of give so it is very firm.
Pros: Sustainable. Very dense and firm but still gives some padding. Highest non-slip.
Cons: Needs to be cleaned more often. Degrades faster than cork mats.
Pros: Extremely non-slip, specially for sweaty practices.
Cons: The towel moves when it is on a mat so you have to readjust often.
Pros: Lots of texture to keep you in place.
Cons: Has to be cleaned very often.
Cons: Not sustainable or eco-friendly. Degrade quickly.
Neutral: Less firm.
It all comes down to what you like and how you like it. Really all mats are good mats, specially when used for the purpose of yoga and self-betterment! Get out there, get a mat, and see how it fits. We LOVE cork yoga mats. Head over to our Naturals collection to view all of our favorite cork products to help you get started with yoga!
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