Since Your-Movement has been open (three years this fall—woo hoo!) I’ve seen many of our clients using a yoga mat for Pilates classes. Clients ask us all the time, ‘what’s the difference between a yoga and Pilates mat?’ Here is the answer.
Good Pilates mats start from $35 and you can get a yoga mat anywhere for $10 (Of course the quality of the yoga mate is probably not the best, but if you’re just starting out in yoga you really don’t need to invest a lot of money in the mat. First, check out which type of class you prefer, then buy the proper mat.)
Besides pricing what is the difference between a yoga and Pilates mat? Here is a quick break down, plus some tips on how to get the most out of your mat.
Pilates mats are thicker
It is important for Pilates mats to be thicker, and therefore more cushioning, because for most of the class you will be laying down on the mat (and we want to take care of that back!).
If you use a yoga mat for Pilates how to make yourself comfortable through the entire class.
- Yoga mats are usually very thin, the thickest one is 1/4” Pilates mat are usually ½” but can be thicker. If you go to a Pilates class with a yoga mat grab a blanket and place it over your entire mat. Believe me, it makes the whole class experience better.
- Don’t teach or do Rolling-Like-a-Ball if you only have a yoga mat. It is very painful to roll on your spine, and if you use a yoga mat it feels like you are just rolling your spine on the floor. Usually, before I teach Rolling-Like-a-Ball I first check to see what type of mats my students are using and tell them “if you have a yoga mat please only do 1 or 2.” It’s not good for the spine to be rolling on the “floor.” First of all doesn’t feel good (and it’s important to be listening to our bodies when we are exercising).Some yogis say that rolling on your spine is okay, but personally I disagree, and I was also happy to find an article explaining how it can negatively effect the spine. Read it here. Using the Pilates mat is fine, though. There is no pain, and we can really focus on using our abdominals!
So if you’d like to use a yoga mat for Pilates (rather than invest in another mat) make sure to get a blanket J
If you use Pilates mat for a yoga class.
This is a big NO-NO, because is thicker not hold well so its very slippery during almost any flow pose, except when you are standing, (tadasana, balancing pose) laying down, or sitting.
- Sometimes in yoga class I see my students using a Pilates mat. I always ask them why? (I want to understand their side.) Some like it because it’s more cushy, so when they lay or kneel down they feel more comfortable. Some don’t know the different and just grab whatever mat they find.
- I understand liking Pilates mats for their thickness. If your just want a more cushy yoga experience then I recommend not doing a full pose. This means not having a super long stride in Warrior 2, or making a smaller downward facing dog. Taking smaller movements will help because with a thicker mat you sink into the mat and you also slip. This is very unstable for poses where is important to stand strong.
- Alternatively, try a yoga towel. It will still be cushy, but at least it will not be slippery.
Overall, if you are just trying a class I recommend renting a mat, then after few classes you can see which mat is more for you. Invest for a better quality so you can enjoy the class the whole time without worry about, slipping, feeling uncomfortable or doing less because your mat is not the right one. When you decide to go to a class then—enjoy it!