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Yoga Mat Owner's Manual

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Updated November 25, 2012

Most yoga studios have mats you can rent to use during class, but it really makes more sense to buy your own, for both financial and hygienic reasons. This guide helps you pick out a yoga mat and keep it in good working order.

Why Buy a Yoga Mat?

Yoga mats (also called sticky mats) are used in most yoga classes to provide cushioning and traction. While you can usually rent a mat at a yoga studio, it's a good idea to have your own. It makes sense financially, since mats can be bought for as little as $25. Don't feel like you should wait and see if you really stick with this yoga thing before making the plunge to mat ownership. With prices this low, your commitment shouldn't play in to your decision, but your feelings about other people's sweat should. Shared mats can also harbor bacteria, including staph, and fungus. You will also need a mat if you plan to do any yoga at home.

What to Look For

A standard sized yoga mat is 24" x 68". You don't need a very thick mat for yoga. A synthethic mat will run about $25. Mats made from natural materials such as rubber and jute run a bit more, from $50-$70.

Where to Shop

Most yoga studios carry mats for purchase, as do sporting goods stores. As yoga becomes increasingly popular, yoga products are becoming easier to find at stores like Target. Two independantly owned drugstores in my neighborhood also carry mats and other supplies, so take a look at your local drugstore too.

Accessorize Your Accessory

Some yoga studios will store your mat for you. If yours does not, it's handy to have a yoga mat bag, or at least a strap so you can throw it over your shoulder. If you are a big sweater and keep your mat in your hot car, you might like to have a yoga mat cleaning spray you can use after class. Both are available from the usual yoga supply online and retail outlets.

Slipping on Your New Mat?

Sometimes a new mat will be a little slippery. If you use it for a few classes, the problem usually goes away as you wear the mat in. If it doesn't, try washing it as this can accelerate the process. You can run most mats through the washing machine or rinse them off in the shower. Skip the soap and hang them to dry. If your palms tend to get sweaty, a product like the Yogitoes Skidless towel, which provides extra traction, may help.
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