To make your exercise experience pleasant and safe, you will have to get a proper mat.
You can choose among hundreds of models and different manufacturers …
However, you should know about different features and learn how to choose the one that is suitable for your preferred activity.
Despite the fact that mats may look similar, mats have many differences.
Here I am going to tell you more about those differences and make a basic Pilates mat vs yoga mat comparison, in the following chapters:
What’s the Difference Between Pilates and Yoga?
Engaging in almost any kind of physical activity has many benefits, and choosing the right activity for you can be hard. Pilates and Yoga seem very similar, and in some way they are.
Both of these activities (if you compare them in a physical manner) focus a lot on controlled movement, balance, breathing, increasing range of motion and flexibility, muscle strengthening and general wellbeing.
But Yoga is much more than a physical activity, and despite the fact that in modern world it is sometimes used just for physical benefits, it is also a spiritual activity.
Yoga has a focus on your mind as much as on your body, and the key is to find balance, both inside and outside. This activity is excellent for those who are under a lot of stress. All types of workout reduce stress, but Yoga is definitely the best one.
Great thing about both Pilates and Yoga is that exercises in Pilates and asanas in Yoga, are various, and anyone, no matter the fitness level, will be able to find something that suits them.
Although both activities focus on breathing, those breathing techniques are different, and so is their result. In Pilates, breathing helps you engage muscles, control motion, and get the best out of the certain exercise, while in Yoga, some breathing techniques are important for stress reduction and your mind, not just the body.
Pilates exercises are focused a lot on abdominal and core muscles, and it is great for those who are searching an activity that will be low impact, but it will strengthen their muscles.
In Yoga, there are certain asanas and flows that will engage your muscles a lot, and strengthen them too, but it is less intense, and the end goal is not just a healthy and toned body, but also a healthy and strong mind.
If you are having back problems, both activities can be good, but Pilates is slightly better. In any case, make sure you tell the instructor about your diagnosis, and check with your doctor is it ok to exercise.
In yoga, if you focus a lot on a physical part, there is a slightly higher injurie risk.
That will increase calorie burn and provide additional resistance, so that your muscles engage more.
What’s the Difference Between Pilates Mat and Yoga Mat?
As you can see, there are some subtle, but very important differences between Yoga and Pilates.
So, what about Pilates mat vs yoga mat?
Her is a list of the most important differences.
#1: Mat thickness
Thickness is a key difference between these Pilates and Yoga mat.
Yoga mats are a bit thinner, because Yoga requires a lot of stability, especially while standing up. In Pilates, a lot of exercises are done in a way that you sit or lie down, and the mat has to be thicker to provide enough support and comfort.
Pilates mats can be twice as thick. Yoga ones are usually between 3 and 5 millimeters, while Pilates ones are more than 10.
#2: Mat density (softness)
Both Pilates mat and Yoga mat are quite dense, however, Yoga mates are a bit denser. As you have to do a lot of asanas standing up, it has to be firm.
During Pilates, you roll on your mat a lot, and to be comfortable, it has to be a bit softer. However, too soft mats are not good, even for Pilates. Yes, they may seem comfortable, but they will make it hard for you to keep your balance and do exercises properly.
#3: Mat size
Mats come in all shapes and sizes. A lot of manufacturers give you the opportunity to choose from 2 sizes of the same mat. Some of us are very tall, while others are shorter, and you should choose the size in accordance with your personal preference.
Larger ones are great because you can lie down and all of your body parts will still be on the mat. However, larger ones are a bit inconvenient to transport, so many people choose smaller ones if they take them to a studio.
When you compare the average length, both Pilates and Yoga are mostly the same, however, Pilates mats tend to be a bit wider.
#4: Material and surface texture
Modern materials like PVC are used in many mats, and this material is great because it can be used to create all kinds of thickness, softness and more.
However, Yoga is a bit more oriented towards nature, so many manufacturers offer other options too. Some are made from recycled materials, other from bamboo, so that anyone can choose something that suits their lifestyle choices.
When it comes to texture, good Yoga mats have excellent anti-skid properties. Slipping in some asanas could result in serious injuries. In Pilates, this feature is also important, but not to the same extent. So, Pilates mats usually have sleeker surface.
Can you Take a Pilates Mat to Yoga or any Other Exercise?
In theory, YES you can, and no one can stop you.
Some people even buy different “hybrid” mats to be used for multiple activities. But the thing is, if you ignore Pilates mat vs yoga mat differences, you could potentially have a bad exercise experience.
Because Pilates mats are thicker and have less anti-skid properties, you will probably struggle with balance and the ability to hold asanas in Yoga.
When you perform basic asanas like downward dog on a slippery mat, your palms and feet will slip and you will be focused on adjusting your pose all the time instead of completely engaging into the exercise. The same goes for basic stand-up balance asanas, like warrior three. Thick and softer mat will wiggle under your feet.
But, what about the opposite?
You can use Yoga mat for Pilates, but the problem is that it is going to be uncomfortable. Spending a lot of time doing floor exercises will result in pain and discomfort in bones and joints which are constantly on the floor.
What to Consider When Buying New Pilates or Yoga Mat?
First of all, you will have to consider the budget. There are mats in all price ranges, and some really expensive ones can come with a life long warranty.
But, if you are new to Yoga or Pilates practice, maybe you should think about basic models, to see what suits you.
Here are a few things to consider, in addition to features mentioned before.
If you can, choose a mat manufactured by reputable manufacturer that specializes in Yoga and Pilates mats. Yes, you can buy a mat in a supermarket that has a word Pilates/Yoga written on it, but the chances are, it will not have good properties.
Maybe you like to recycle, and use natural materials, and that is excellent, however, choosing mats made from materials like bamboo may not be the best idea. Those are usually more slippery. Recycled rubber would be a better option if you do not want to use PVC.
Mats have to be cleaned. Some can be washed with a garden hose, while other ones should not be cleaned aggressively.
Manufacturers usually state this information. Sleek and firm mats that are a bit slippery can easily be whipped to remove sweat and impurities, while those with great anti-skid properties can take in the sweat and smells into the surface. The same goes for really soft and foamy ones. You may need to buy some mat cleaning product to overcome any problems.
As I already mentioned, transporting long, thick and heavy mats can be a problem.
Sure, you can put it in a car, but if you are using a bicycle, public transport, or you are simply walking, think about a lighter version. Many manufacturers have models designed to be carried around, and those are usually much lighter.
Not every mat is the same, and to completely enjoy and benefit from a certain activity, you should get a proper one. This is important not just for comfort, but for preventing injuries too.
When you compare all the Pilates mat vs yoga mat differences, you will clearly see that they are not even similar.
If you still can’t decide about a specific mat, you should ask your Pilates/Yoga instructor for help, or visit a sports equipment store and see different models there. You can feel their texture and get a better image of what is offered.