There seems n’to be a resurgence in Yoga and meditation lately. I, too, enjoy my share of downward dogs and child’s poses. I find meditation soothing and calming for the body, mind and soul. I sure would like to do more of it. Why not do some yoga and meditation while on vacation? And of course, to do Yoga and meditation requires a mat.
So, I was thinking... How to travel with a Yoga mat?
History of the Yoga Mat
The ancient practitioners of yoga in India conducted yoga on kusha grass, on the hard earth, or on a deer or tiger skin rug.
People who practiced yoga when it was brought in the western world used towels or cotton mats on wooden floors. Soon after that, rubber mats were used. In 1982, “sticky mats” were first sold. Surprisingly, the first mat purposely made strictly for yoga was developed in the 1990s by Hugger Mugger Yoga Products.
What to Look for in a Yoga Mat
Although I am not an extreme yoga enthusiast, there are three things that I look for in a yoga mat. They are the length, thickness and durability.
LENGTH: The standard size of yoga mats is 24 inches wide by 68 inches long. The extra long mat can come in 71, 72, 74 or 84 inches long. Some may even go beyond 7 feet long! I would recommend looking into a mat that fits your physical stature. There is nothing worse than trying to do a yoga pose and not having enough space to comfortably complete your pose. Even though I am a mere 5’2″, I would choose a longer yoga mat.
THICKNESS: A standard yoga mat is about 1/8 inch thick but there are some that go as thick as 1/4 inch. A travel yoga mat is 1/16 inch thick. I prefer the 1/4 inch thickness because it’s more comfortable on my knees when I need to do a pose such as cat to cow or bird-dog.
DURABILITY: Replacing your yoga mat every six to twelve months is the general rule of thumb. This is a reasonable rule. However, it really depends on a lot of factors such as the frequency of use, the styles of yoga that is done and where you do yoga. I have used yoga mats that start to fall a part or lose their stickiness even way before the 6-month period. Since I only do yoga in the comfort of my living room I expect a yoga mat that will downward dog with me for at least the full 12 months.
Types of Yoga Mats
TRADITIONAL MATS are rectangular “sticky mats” so that poses can be held without slipping. Traditional mats are made of PVC, or vinyl. They come in various thickness and lengths. Both beginners and seasoned practitioners use traditional mats.
NON-TRADITIONAL MATS come in different shapes. You can now choose circular, oval and even hour-glass shapes Yoga mats. Non-traditional mats also come in much more eco-friendly materials.
Natural Rubber mats are non-toxic and are made from biodegradable and recycled materials.
Thermoplastic elastomer mats are made from natural materials and are considered healthy and environmentally friendly.
Cotton mats are all natural and are washable. They are soft and cushiony and absorbs sweat better.
Hemp mats are also all natural and last long because hemp has great elasticity and strength.
Jute mats are made from all natural jute fibers which is biodegradable. Jute mats are considered the most eco-friendly.
TRAVEL MATS are much thinner than other yoga mats. They are made to fold and roll up for travel purposes. Travel mats are only meant to be used for traveling so they are not as durable as the conventional yoga mats.
Yoga Mat Accessories
With the popularity of Yoga and meditation, not only are there Yoga mats to choose from but there are also Yoga mat accessories:
Yoga Mat Bags: These are basically bags to fit your Yoga mats in and they come in different styles and colors. These bags have an attached strap to it so that it can be carried over your shoulder.
Harness Straps: These are straps made of elastic that can wrap around the Yoga mat and carried over your shoulder for easier transport.
Yoga Backpacks: This is a multi-purpose backpack that you can place your Yoga mat in and sometimes multiple mats. It also has other compartments that you can use to put other travel necessities. It’s very practical and easy to carry on your back just like a typical backpack.
How to Travel with a Yoga Mat
So, back to my original question… How to Travel with a Yoga Mat?
The logical answer is…bring a travel Yoga mat. It makes sense. It’s made for travel because it’s very thin and can be rolled up or folded and packed in your luggage.
OR do what makes you feel happy….bring along your favorite Yoga mat. Roll it up with an elastic harness strap or place it in a yoga mat bag with a sling or carry a Yoga back pack on your next travel adventure.
There shouldn’t be any pressure or stress. So, whichever way you decide, How to Travel with a Yoga Mat, is up to you.
Continue breathing gently.
Slowly open your eyes.
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