You’ve been flowing through your Sun Salutations and mastering your Pigeon pose, but have you taken a moment to check the condition of your yoga mat lately?
Believe it or not, that trusty mat needs some attention, too, and there comes a time when you’ll need to part ways.
The golden rule for knowing when to replace your yoga mat is pretty straightforward: If it’s losing its grip, has visible wear and tear, or isn’t providing the cushioning you need, it’s time for a new one.
When to Replace Your Yoga Mat
Your yoga mat is your sanctuary, the space where you find your flow and inner peace. But like all good things, it won’t last forever.
Here are some telltale signs that it’s time to invest in a new mat.
You’ve Had It for Awhile
The frequency of your yoga sessions plays a significant role in determining when it’s time for a replacement.
Here’s a quick guide based on how often you hit the mat:
- Daily. If you’re the kind of yogi who can’t go a day without some asanas, you’ll need to replace your mat more frequently. Aim for a new one every six to 12 months.
- Weekly. For those who find their zen once or twice a week, a good-quality mat can serve you well for up to two years.
- Occasionally. A mat used sporadically can last up to three or four years. Just remember to store it properly to prevent any degradation over time.
It Has a Lot of Wear and Tear
If your mat is starting to look like it’s been through a battle—with frayed edges, holes, or visible chunks missing—it’s a clear sign that you need a new one.
Not only is a worn-out mat unsightly, but it can also be unsafe.
Those imperfections can cause you to trip or lose your balance during poses, which is the last thing you want when trying to focus on your practice.
It’s Getting Thin
A good yoga mat should provide a cushion between you and the hard floor. If you start to feel the ground beneath you more than you used to, your mat is likely thinning out.
This lack of cushioning can be hard on your joints and make poses uncomfortable, defeating the purpose of your practice.
It Smells Terrible
Let’s face it: Yoga can be sweaty work, and your mat can absorb odors over time.
While regular cleaning can help, there comes a point when no amount of scrubbing will get rid of that funky smell.
If your mat is starting to stink up your practice space, it’s time for a fresh start with a new mat.
You Can’t Get a Grip
Slipping and sliding during your Downward-Facing Dog? That’s a problem.
As mats age, they can lose their stickiness and become slick, making it hard to hold poses.
If you find yourself constantly readjusting or struggling to maintain your grip, consider it a sign from the yoga gods that you need a new mat.
How to Make a Yoga Mat Last Longer
Investing in a quality yoga mat is just the first step; taking proper care of it can extend its life and keep you flowing smoothly.
Here are some tips to make sure your mat stays in tip-top shape.
Clean It After Every Yoga Session
One of the best ways to prolong the life of your yoga mat is by cleaning it regularly.
Use a gentle, natural cleaner and avoid harsh chemicals that can break down the material. A simple mixture of water and a few drops of essential oil can do wonders. Wipe it down after each session to remove sweat, oils, and dirt.
Roll It Up Properly
How you store your mat matters. Always roll it up with the side you practice on facing outward.
This helps maintain the mat’s shape and prevents any moisture from getting trapped, which could lead to mold or unpleasant smells.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
While airing out your mat in the sun can eliminate odors and kill bacteria, excessive exposure to direct sunlight can cause the material to break down faster.
If you do decide to sun-dry it, limit the time to a couple of hours and make it an occasional thing rather than a regular routine.
Use a Towel
Especially for hot yoga or more intense sessions, using a yoga towel can help absorb sweat and protect the surface of your mat.
This not only keeps your mat cleaner but also reduces wear and tear.
Rotate Your Mat
Just like rotating your tires, flipping your mat every now and then can help ensure even wear.
Use both ends equally, and if your mat is double-sided, take advantage of that feature to distribute the wear and tear.
Tips for Buying a New Yoga Mat
So, you’ve decided it’s time for a new yoga mat. Great! But with so many options, how do you choose the right one?
Here are some key factors to consider when shopping for your next yoga mat.
- Material. The mat’s material can greatly affect its durability, comfort, and eco-friendliness. Common materials include PVC, TPE, and natural rubber.
PVC mats are generally cheaper but less eco-friendly. On the other hand, natural rubber mats are biodegradable and offer excellent grip but can be a bit pricier.
- Thickness. The mat’s thickness is crucial for comfort, especially if you have sensitive joints.
Standard yoga mats are about 1/8-inch thick, but you can find options up to 1/4-inch thick for extra cushioning. However, remember that a thicker mat can be less stable for balancing poses.
- Texture. The texture affects both the mat’s traction and your comfort.
Some mats come with a natural texture, while others have a patterned surface. If you tend to slip a lot, look for a mat with a tactile, non-slip surface.
- Size. Standard yoga mats are 68 inches. If you’re taller, you should get a longer mat. Ensure it’s also wide enough to comfortably accommodate your shoulders and hips.
- Portability. If you’re a yogi on the go, you’ll want a mat that’s easy to carry. Some mats come with a carrying case or straps.
Also, consider the mat’s weight; lighter mats are easier to tote but might offer less cushioning.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.