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Yoga is one of the few exercises that doesn’t need any equipment: you can do it anywhere you have enough space to stretch out your body. If you wish to do yoga on your carpet at home, fine. But if you are going to do yoga on a hard surface such as wood or concrete, you will probably want something more comfortable to lie on. Blankets and towels tend to slip around and that can be dangerous, especially for the beginner. Most yoga practitioners advocate the use of yoga mats, which provide a warm, cushioned surface. Which mat you choose depends on your personal needs.

There are essentially three types of yoga mats: cotton or shiatsu, sticky, and Airex. Cotton mats come in either regular or organic fibers. Organic cotton is distinctly different from conventional cotton; it is springier to the touch and just feels cozier. The fabrics are either natural or colored, usually with low impact dyes and are not treated with formaldehyde. Prices range greatly—an organic Cotton Shiatsu Mat (39" x 84") can run about $300 while a regular Cotton Yoga Mat (30" x 72") is about $95.00. You might want to make sure you are committed to yoga practice before investing this much money into a mat.

The second type of mat, the sticky mat, is so named because it offers great traction, as well as cushion so that your practice is comfortable and you are not distracted by slipping and sliding. Most sticky mats are approximately two-feet by six-feet and made of a PVC-baked foam. The mat is 1/8-inch thick and usually comes in your choice of color. They look a little like a thin camping mat. Some people like to use a cotton mat on top of a sticky mat for extra comfort. A basic sticky mat costs about $20 to $30. These are great for beginners because they are very comfortable as well as affordable.

Airex , or Ultra Mats, as they are sometimes called, are simply thicker sticky mats. They are usually ¼-inch thick and are used for extra cushioning. Be aware, however, that extra cushioning also means extra bulk and if you are going to be carrying your mat around a lot (say, to and from class), you may want to reconsider. An Ultra Mat costs between $30 and $35. This type of mat is good for practitioners of astanga yoga, which involves frequent jumps.