So you bought that cute, patterned yoga mat, on sale for $10, and walked into class feeling stylish with it on your shoulder. But 10 minutes in, you feel like you are doing your Downward Dog on a slip and slide. Not all yoga mats are created equal -- when shopping for your next yoga mat, take more than color and pattern into account.
Tack refers to the stickiness of the mat. High tack means extra-sticky, helping you stay in your pose longer. High-tack mats are especially helpful in standing poses where your feet may start to slip. Yoga is all about finding stability in difficult poses -- the more your mat can help you, the more you will get out of your practice.
Sweat is the main culprit for slipping during yoga. Some people bring towels to place over their mat to absorb the sweat, but they bunch up when moving from pose to pose. High-tack mats can help you stay in one place without having to remember to bring another item to class. Textured mats advertise that they help combat slippage as well, but the minute they are covered with a layer of sweat their usefulness tends to vanish. Heated yoga classes can make you sweat and slip the most, so invest in a high tack mat if you are into these classes.
Some mats are high tack because they use hazardous chemicals, not because they are high quality. Polyvinyl chloride is a cheap, toxic plastic found in many yoga mats -- it may help you hold a pose, but lose your health. Rubber yoga mats are high tack and generally safe, though they can cost $30 to $70.
When searching for a non-slip mat, look for something around 1/8-inch thick if you care about portability as well. The product description should include the phrase “high-tack surface,” or something similar, not just “textured.” High tack mats are easy to find online, but may be harder to locate in a general-purpose, brick-and-mortar store -- a specialty athletic store is your best bet.
Kelly MacGregor holds bachelor's degrees in news-editorial journalism and ecology/evolutionary biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In addition to writing for the "Colorado Engineer Magazine," the "Boulder Daily Camera" and EdNews Parent, MacGregor's work has been picked up by the "Colorado Daily," EdNews Colorado and the "Denver Post."