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Once you begin yoga and commit to a regular (weekly or more) practice, the mats you borrow from the studio or gym don’t seem to work any more. If you think you will stick with yoga practice for many years, then it is time to buy your own mat. Sure, you can go to Target or WalMart and get a $15 mat that is just like those at the studio or gym that you borrow, but you should consider that a higher-quality mat will enhance your yoga practice and last longer.
There are several types of mats available and from many different makers. The two main types of rubber mats are open- and closed-cell.
Open-cell mats, made with porous natural rubber, are ideal for hot yoga as they absorb sweat. However, you still may need a towel and these mats also take longer to dry and are prone to harboring bacteria because of the prolonged drying time. If you clean you mat well and let it dry, bacteria should not be a problem. These types of mats may not last as long as closed-cell mats.
Closed-cell mats are made with closed rubber cells, which does not allow moisture to penetrate, but which means that sweat can also pool on the mat surface. These types of mats have been around for years and are typically what you find in gyms and studios that you “borrow”. These mats are good for gentler types of yoga which do not produce a lot of sweat OR for people who prefer to always use a towel during their yoga practice. [And by the way, Yogitoes makes great towels]
Depending on the length, thickness and other features you choose, expect to spend between $50 – $100 for a good quality mat that will last for several years. Here are two companies to check out: