Choose a natural and cheap yoga mat
My advice to you is to go ahead and buy yourself a cheap yoga mat. Because, as we've already discovered, cheap does not have to mean nasty! Over the years I have used a great many different types of mats and therefore consider myself to be fully qualified when it comes to recommending the perfect mat for a beginner, as well as for a more experienced yoga student.
You can use mats of cotton, grass, silk, wool and other exotic natural fibres. This would infact be my first choice for yoga mats. Wool has the tendency to absorb perspiration and you do not wish to have a woollen mat then you may wish to lay a pure wool shawl over the mat during your practice.
I think there are so many advantages to buying a less expensive mat. Firstly, if you are just starting out you may want to get a feel for yoga before committing yourself financially – but I must warn you, you will get hooked! And secondly, it's no bad thing to be watching your spending these days.
I tell anyone who asks me which style of mat to buy, that they should make a personal list of what they want to get out of their yoga mat. I say to think carefully about the style of yoga are they practicing. If it is gentle, slow movements then a cotton mat might suit them, whereas something more pacy, like Ashtanga yoga for instance, may call for a sticky mat that won't slip or move when things get a bit physical. I've already mentioned that I bought some inexpensive sticky mats for one of my classes, and they loved them. They were good quality and cheap - especially as I bought them in bulk.
Cheap Yoga Mat: It's possible to pick up some great budget mats like the cushioned PVC style ones, which offer good non-slip resistance and have a slightly spongy surface which is helpful for maintaining your balance. Jane, who is one my more recent students, says that she likes her PVC mat because “It makes me feel more in control, I can feel my feet sinking slightly into the mat and so I know where my balancing limits are.” I know what she means, it's the sensation she feels through her mat that makes her feel safe when she is practicing standing balances. Trusting your mat is essential.
Among the cheapest are the bamboo style mats, (my colleagues in the UK tell me that Europeans use these on the beach while sunbathing), they are lightweight, roll up easily, dry quickly and are surprisingly comfortable and warm to the touch. I really like them for outdoor yoga, using a natural fiber when outside feels somehow more appropriate – and yoga is all about body and spirit, so if my mind is happier using a bamboo mat when I'm outside, then my body is benefiting as well! It's all part of the holistic approach I like to encourage.
There are so many mats to choose from – if you use a cheap mat and are happy (or perhaps you are unhappy) with it, then share your experience with us. By passing on your advice and knowledge you can help others make informed choices when it comes to buying their own yoga mat.