While comfortable clothes and the right teacher are important, a cool mat can make yoga more enticing and enjoyable.
Forget that plain, boring slab of rubber; yoga mats now come in a variety of designs. You can stretch on a faux sand beach or rippling lake, or do your cobra on a faux Persian carpet.
Here’s a roundup of some of the most stylish mats (choosing a favourite may be harder than aligning your chakras):
Yoga Design Lab’s Horizon mat features a photo print of a sunset over gently lapping waves. The Tribeca Sand mat has a prismatic pattern in warm jewel hues. (www.yogadesignlab.com )
Scenic vistas are also brought to you by Yogamatic, where waterfalls, beaches and deserts are depicted in vibrant digital prints. One mat with a hypnotic image of swimming carp is by Los Angeles photographer Jennifer Cawley. Or her sepia-toned image of Edward, a teddy bear plopped on a comfy-looking bed, would help soothe a stressed-out stretcher. City dwellers might like the views of the Chicago or Manhattan skylines. A portion of sales of a mat printed with luscious orange slices goes to New York’s Food Bank. (www.yogamatic.com )
Designer Sophie Lenninger of Oakland, California, creates eye-catching mats, including one referencing Uzbek Suzani patterns in a palette of pink, green and aqua. Aztec motifs of rain clouds and cactus flowers enliven her El Nino mat. And she’s got a range of mats for children too, in happy Hawaiian, Southwest and Provencal prints. (www.magiccarpetym.com )
Surfboard artist Drew Brophy has illustrated some kids’ mats with hip ’60s-style prints of suns, rainbows, turtles and waves. (www.spiritualrevolutionyoga.com )
Brooklynite Kyle deWoody, founder and creative director of gallery and art shop Grey Area, commissioned work from seven artists for a collection of yoga mats. Among them are Daniel Arsham’s haunting tonal image of the moon in inky outer space, and Eric Cahan’s sunset over East Hampton, which creates a meditative mood. (www.thegreyarea.com )
Yoloha Yoga’s cork mats, with simple, laser-engraved dream catcher and wildflower designs, can be personalized. (www.yolohayoga.com )
You can store your rolled-up mat in a neat bag, like the one from Brogamats that looks like a log. Or channel your inner “Hunger Games” character by toting your mat in a bag that looks like a leather quiver. (www.brogamats.com )
Some pretty mat bags and yoga ball covers are made by the Thai and Nepali women artisans of Global Groove, a fair trade organizyogation. There are ikat, peacock and geometric prints in low-key colour palettes, all made of 100 per cent cotton. (www.alternativesglobalmarketplace.com )