“how to find the best cheap products” — kiplinger

Cheap Yoga Mat Buying Guide

The big difference between cheap yoga mats and the upmarket variety mostly relates to durability. High-end yoga mats claim to last a lifetime and may be the only yoga mat you'll ever have to buy.

Cheaper mats, on the other hand, are sometimes thinner and need to be replaced more often. The serious yogi who spends time on the mat every day may want to consider investing in a pricier product, but for the average practitioner who attends a yoga class once or twice a week, a good cheap yoga mat will last quite a while and provide appropriate cushioning.

One critical feature to consider when shopping for a cheap yoga mat is its composition. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) has long been the material of choice due to its resilience, stickiness, and affordability. But PVC has also been associated with environmental concerns and health risks. Experts at BuyingYogaMats.com, say PVC yoga mats may release toxic chemicals and the production process harms the environment. The alternative -- so-called natural yoga mats made with rubber, latex, jute, or cotton -- are increasingly available but pose challenges of their own. The less expensive natural yoga mats may be less durable than the regular PVC variety, and, as experts note, some people are allergic to non-PVC materials like latex. Eco yoga mats are also more expensive to produce and often priced beyond the Cheapism niche. For the typical user, though, PVC mats are not a problem. Just know what you're buying and be aware of your own needs.

Seasoned yogis have probably heard of the Manduka and Lululemon mats, which sit at the high end of the yoga mat spectrum, costing between $60 and $100. At the cheap end, between $8 and $25, names like Yoga Accessories, Sunny Health and Fitness, Gaiam, Bean Products, and HuggerMugger are recognized brands. Our two favorite cheap yoga mats are Yoga Accessories Extra Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat (starting at $17) and Bean Products CleanPVC Eco Yoga Mat (starting at $13). Both are free of the chemicals and compounds that some practitioners object to, they're long and thick, and they're praised by users for their performance and value. Other good cheap yoga mat choices include the Sunny Health & Fitness Mat (starting at $9) and the Altus Athletic Altus Flower Mat (starting at $13), the former for its reliability and the latter for its soothing design and carry strap -- and both for their low prices. We're not enthused about the MiVizu Eco Friendly Anti Slip Yoga Mat (starting at $9) because of complaints about slipping or about the Natural Fitness Eco Yoga Mat (starting at $28) due to durability issues.

If you're tempted to save a few dollars by buying an exercise mat or using a sleeping bag pad, proceed cautiously. Although these alternatives may suffice for the practice of yoga (and we've heard tell), make sure the mat is sticky and dense enough to cushion your bones and joints.

In the event that a true yoga mat doesn't work out, put it to good use by recycling or repurposing. While doing our research we read reports of yoga mats being used as padding for carpets, as a non-slip surface for children's toys, or as simple cushioning for little ones learning to walk.

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