When I started out, I owned a Nike yoga mat.
|Nike Yo Girl Yoga Mat Rose $49.99|
It's similar to the Yo Girl Yoga Mat Rose (pictured above). It's been discontinued and replaced with the Yo Girl series, and it was about the same price. I thought that was a decent amount to pay for a yoga mat. However, I started having trouble in my yoga classes with holding postures. My hands and feet would get really sweaty and I would slip all the time. After a few months, my yoga mat began to show signs of wear and began thinning out.
Mum also bought me a cheapo yoga mat from a $2 shop in Malaysia, for something like RM10 (approximately AUD$3). I didn't mind it at the time, but now that I do a lot of yoga, I find it really hard, slippery and thin (terrible if you're doing headstands on a wooden floor, or any arm balances).
Then, I was introduced to Jade Yoga mats, and that was when I really fell in love with yoga. Their mats are not cheap, they start from about $80 here in Australia, but they are give you good grip and have ample padding. I use mine frequently, and it has yet to show any signs of wear. The downsides are that it's a heavy mat, so not travel friendly, and dirt shows up on it easily (as in even if your mat is clean, it could still look dirty).
Here's a quick guide to what to look for in a yoga mat
After changing my mat, I found so many poses to be much easier to do, and I could correct my alignment instead of worrying about slipping. If your mat is slippery, even yoga gloves like Stick-e and Yogloves don't help much.
2. Thickness and padding
You don't want it to be too thick, but have it too thin and you may end up sustaining injury. Your own personal need may vary, but for the average healthy individual, a decent thickness for yoga mats would be approximately 0.5cm.
A good yoga mat should have a firm spongey feeling. It shouldn't feel plastic-ky and hard.
This is where the Jade Yoga mat loses out. I don't mind carting around a heavy mat, but most people would. You may want a travel-friendly mat.
If you are tall, you may need to opt for a large yoga mat. Most reputable yoga mat brands carry an extra large option.
Because we want our earth to be sustainable.
Some good reputable yoga mat brands to look out for besides Jade Yoga are Manduka, and Gaiam.
The price factor should really come last. Health and safety should be your first priority after all. :)