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Setting up your yoga Practice space

At the start of lockdown, I received quite a few requests from students for yoga mat recommendations. Everyone was preparing to set up space in their homes to practice yoga and most had never owned their own, personal yoga mat, let alone any props.

Suffice it to say that, even when studios re-open, I think we'll all be wanting to use our own yoga mats and props, and I think it's an excellent investment.

I own three yoga mats at the moment, two of which I've had for over a decade and alternate, one for travel. But you really only need one. I've trialled out many yoga mats over time (certainly not ALL the options out there) and this is where I have landed today.

My favourite mats are cork mats and jute mats. I love them because they provide a nice amount of traction (i.e. your hands are unlikely to slip) and are made of natural, environmentally friendly materials that feel nice under your hands.

Now, I know some people swear by mats that have a lot of stick (an example of this would be a JADE mat), but for me, I like to feel a bit of give under my hands and I find sticky mats make my joints unhappy.

If you're at the beginning of your yoga practice, it is likely your hands will slip more as you get used to using your hands to grip the mat. Some of us simply perspire more, so you may have to experiment. I think cork and jute perform beautifully here to combat slip whilst also providing give.

Another mat that I do not own, but know feels lovely and silky smooth under your hands and many of my students rave about them are Liforme mats - they are also an environmentally friendly option but perhaps the priciest of them all. They are probably most famously known for having markings on them to assist with alignment (which is nice, but not necessary, especially if you like to play with less linear movement on your mat like me).

Something else to consider other than the material and eco-credentials, is the thickness.  6mm thickness provides the ultimate luxury and cushioning (but they are heavy and not great for travel).  4mm is usually just right and the thinnest you'd want to go for (I know a teacher who layers 2 x 3mm mats for all her classes), with anything thinner being a travel mat that you want to be able to fit in luggage.

When I practice I have my yoga mat on top of a jute rug and sometimes I don't use a mat at all because jute rugs are actually fantastic if you don't require a soft surface under your hands. I am perfectly happy with a 4mm mat on a hard surface, but need a little extra cushioning under my knees so will sometimes layer my mats.

This is in no way an exhaustive list of yoga mat or prop possibilities, but these are the three that work for me and that I've had positive feedback on from students. I am not affiliated with any of these brands and provide this information should it be of use to you.

Remember - a mat is something you should ideally have for a long time so think about investing in yourself and the best option for the planet. Pick a colour that pleases you, a texture that feels nice and a thickness that feels supportive.

I source most of my yoga equipment from Yoga Matters here in the UK. If you're planning to do more restorative-style yoga practices, then my suggestions for props would be:

- 1 x yoga blanket (or a firm blanket you have at home)

I'll elaborate more on that in another post (and explain ways of using things you've already got at home) but if you're eager to set up your space for some practice, then I hope this information is helpful!


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