Yoga is some 5,000 years old, it’s a practice that originated in India before spreading across the globe. But, up until the 1960s in the UK, it was primarily an exercise best suited to well-travelled free spirits.
Now though, there are estimated to be more than 300 million yoga practitioners in the world. It’s a mainstay at both gyms and hospitals, with even schools all over the country adding it to their schedules.
By flowing through a series of postures and stretches with an awareness of breathing, yoga focuses on strength and flexibility which benefit mind, body and soul. It is little surprise, therefore, that children are now in on the act.
There are so many benefits to youngsters – firstly, yoga is a peaceful exercise, ideal for calming down hyperactive children. It is also non-competitive so any child who struggles with hand-eye coordination or the aggression of contact sport will find solace and security on the mat.
It can help with strength, coordination and fine motor skills and it is a brilliant way to introduce little ones to mindfulness – being aware of themselves and their bodies. Mindfulness can start on the mat and will give children the skills to better deal with life’s ups and downs. Basically, everything it does for us, it does for them.
There are fewer yoga mats for children on the market than you might imagine. Of course, children can use adult versions but the benefit of giving a child their own mat is that they get to feel the sense of responsibility and maturity that ownership can bring.
Children’s mats tend to be smaller, thicker and often feature pose guides on them. We were looking for mats that would be comfortable for children to use – nothing too thin. We were also looking for something fun that they’d be happy to see and want to take out and use.
We also wanted to see that there was decent grip – anything too slippery would make it difficult to work with – and could result in a child losing confidence.
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Yogi-Me yoga mat
This is essentially a guidebook for beginner’s yoga – with a “start here” signpost etched into the top right-hand corner, there’s a specific “route” laid out for kids to follow. The numbers from one to 15 introduce little ones to a series of poses, including crab and butterfly. Plus, it gives them instructions on how to do each one – “toes up… legs wide” and so on.
This made the mat feel full of possibility and something that older children can use alone – just by following the instructions. The mat (183cm x 61cm) is soft, light – and six mm thick, which is ideal cushioning for little elbows and knees. Just brilliant.
Buy now £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
Shnuggle baby yoga play mat
These mats – which look like big leaves, complete with a “stem” handle – are designed for babies, who might not be perfecting their flying pigeons anytime soon, but who still need plenty of tummy time. Simple, playful stretches are hugely beneficial to infant physical development.
Available in three colourways this mat is 6mm thick which is nice and squishy, so parents can have peace of mind about bumps or tumbles. The mat is non-slip, and non-toxic thanks to being latex and PVC-free but it is also moisture and bacteria resistant which means it will stay fresh, clean and hygienic. But what is really awesome is the way it quickly rolls up and has a special removable carry strap that can even be used across the push bar of buggies. A really clever piece of kit.
Buy now £22.95, Shnuggle.com
Jurassic jungle kids yoga mat
First of all, we love this fresh, inviting colourway with a large dinosaur-print motif. The texture is different on either side – with the side with instructions having a smoother finish, while the other is rougher, providing more grip.
Our four-year-old tester loved going through all of the eight poses illustrated. Mastering them proved a really fun and engrossing challenge, complete with “moos” when in cow pose. This PVC mat has a thickness of 6mm, which makes it lovely and cushioned for little knees, hands and bottoms.
Buy now £29.99, Myga.eco
Plyopic kids yoga mat
This is the most “grown up” looking mat in our round-up – so although this is suitable for babies to 12 years old, we think it would especially suit older children. That being said, we still loved it.
We particularly appreciated the integrated line down the middle, which helps to keep yogis balanced. Both the bottom and top have lovely textured surfaces to ensure grip – and we can testify that there was no slipping at all in downward dog! At 6mm thick this is super comfortable and soft while rolling up easily – and is made from a non-toxic, hypoallergenic, vegan and free from nasties including plathates.
Buy now £20.00, Amazon.co.uk
Merrithew eco mat for kids
First of all our four-year-old tester loved the integrated handle detail on sight – it made the mat much easier for her to move and manage. Second of all – the vivid yellow colourway and honeycomb design is so uplifting; we get an energy boost just looking at it!
It promised a non-slip finish and it absolutely delivers on that – hands and feet feel solid and secure even in more ambitious poses. The mat is not only free from toxins, heavy metals and phthalates it is also biodegradable. However, at only 4mm thick it is on the slimmer end of the scale and therefore less “squashy” than some of the other mats in the round-up.
Buy now £21.09, Merrithew.com
Yogi junior kids mat
This mat (132cm x 61cm) has rounded corners for easy rolling, and is made from TPE (Thermo Plastic Elastomer) which is hypo-allergenic with no PVC, latex, phthalates, PVC and is also recyclable. The ink is also non-toxic; it’s clear that this family run company have thought deeply about how to make this as safe and fun as possible for little ones.
This is 6six mm in thickness to ensure maximum comfort and support – even on a stone kitchen floor! The design is so inviting for younger children especially – smiling animal faces keep them company during their practice but we also found it to be a great way of mapping out their mats. The surface grip is lightly textured but provides a decent grip.
Buy now £24.69, Amazon.com
Bloomsbury Mill super soft toddler nap mat
While this is very clearly not a yoga mat, let us just argue the case for it being in this round-up. It is the ideal meditation prop – the perfect place for any child who needs to take some time out to have some peace and quiet or to reflect can do so. Admittedly, downward dogs aren’t going to be the order of the day where this mat is concerned but mindfulness, peacefulness and reflection will be. This is so soft and cosy too – the perfect calming cocoon.
Buy now £29.99, Bloomsburymill.com
DOMYOS kids yoga mat
This mat (150 x 60 cm wide) is light, bright and brilliant value. The colourways are not high contrast so some people might find it hard to see the yoga posing bears that decorate the top surface of the mat, but this is only a small matter. We found the grip to hold really well and this rolls tightly up – and it comes with a strap for easy transportation.
Buy now £19.99, Decathlon.co.uk
Yogi-Me’s yoga mat gets our vote for the most brilliant signposting and clear education. It’s soft but thick enough for comfort and is instantly appealing to little yogis. Meanwhile, the Shnuggle baby yoga play mats are a genius addition to a baby’s PE repertoire.
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