Yoga mats provide support, cushion and protection for your body while giving you a portable studio space to literally roll out anywhere to practice your poses. No longer standard blue vinyl, yoga mats come in variety of colors, fabrics, textures and thicknesses to support your individual needs and personality. Ranging from 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch, the yoga mat thickness that is right for you depends on where you plan to practice yoga as well as the kind of support you need.
Decide whether you will use the mat most often in a yoga studio on a hardwood floor, at home on a carpeted or tile floor or outdoors. Think about how much cushioning you need for your knees, spine or and other body parts while practicing the floor poses. At the same time, consider the thickness that best enables you to maintain a connection with the floor or the ground so you feel stable while doing your standing poses.
Consider a traditional vinyl mat with the standard 1/8 inch thickness for the greatest degree of stickiness to the floor if you plan to practice on a carpet surface or on grass. Choose a thicker mat made of rubber, jute or cotton for an environmentally-friendly mat that yields to pressure, if you plan to use it on a hard surface.
Get a mat that provides a secure grip for your hands and feet -- and that doesn't slide around on the floor. Select a mat with a raised, tactile pattern to avoid slipping while doing your poses. Choose a vinyl mat if you prefer a smoother mat surface.
Select a mat that requires minimal maintenance -- one that needs only an occasional wiping down with a damp cloth. Don't choose a machine washable mat because it probably won't be thick enough to cushion your body, to stick to the floor or to provide a solid grip for your hands and feet.
Consider how much room you have to store your mat. Think about whether you might want to pack your mat in a suitcase -- buy a thinner, travel mat if you plan to take your yoga practice with you on frequent trips. Consider the weight you prefer for your mat, especially if you plan to carry it back and forth on foot. Try out the mat before you buy it, if you can.