This was requested by a few people and it's generally a really overlooked part of beginning a practice that we love. It took me a while to find a mat that I really felt comfortable with and now I lament practicing when I don't have it with me. My first mat was Lululemon and as much as I love the brand, the mat, to me, was way too slippery. If I'm at a random hotel and they have the generic mats, those are usually too thin and also slippery. The hotel exception is COMO Hotels and Resorts which has one of my favorite yoga mats ever but I'll get to that in a moment.
If you're starting a practice consider a few things:
- Tackiness (not like cheesy tacky but sticky tacky)
I personally like a thicker mat because it allows for some shock absorption and comfort when doing things upside-down on your head or holding a side-plank pose on the wrist for a long time. I like that extra cushion and I think it helps prevent aches and pains. Manduka Pro mats are what I've been practicing with for the past two years after I switched over. They are 6mm thick and the brand makes an effort to minimize and eliminate the release of toxins when they are produced. They also have the perfect amount of stickiness. That's also super important to me now. Holding something like down-dog is much better on alignment if the mat gives some tackiness grip. I get a better stretch and don't have to compensate alignment if the mat is sweaty.
I just recently started working with COMO Hotels and COMO Shambhala which is an exceptional wellness hotel group. They have a special yoga mat that has a woven texture that they leave in the room to use at the resort. They are so so amazing! I took one home with me and now I've been using that one mostly. The woven texture helps me grip and I just think it's super chic looking (pictured above). If you live nearby one of their hotels definitely make a point to stop in the shop and pick one up.
I've also heard great things about Jade Yoga mats. They have a big focus on using no synthetic rubber and they plant a tree every time a mat is sold. They claim to have a good grip and they offer an extra thick version, which is what I would probably go for.
I feel like I'm expected to say, buy the "lite" versions of these yoga mats for travel but honestly I bring my big mat with me in my checked bag or I'll carry it on in a cool carry case (I use this one from Urban Zen).
Yoga towel for extra grip?
In my experience, a waste of money. Unless they are wet, they don't stick to the mat so the towel moves around on the mat. I never use mine. Just invest in the more expensive sticky mat, most have moisture and sweat protection built in. When I practice in the heat, my Manduka Pro mat never gets slippery even when slightly wet. *The exception to the towel or blanket situation would be if you're learning to jump through or jump back and your foot is burning against the mat because it's too tacky. In this instance, most yogis I've been around bring in their towel just for this portion of practice and remove it for the rest.
There you have it! I hope it helps and if you have any further questions feel free to address in the comments below!