How To Choose The Right Yoga Mat
If you’ve started looking into getting your own yoga mat rather than using one at the studio or borrowing a friend’s, you may already be feeling overwhelmed by all of the options out there.
Every store loudly proclaims that they have the best yoga mat, but there’s no way that every mat is the best.
Not only do you want a mat that is quality – and environmentally friendly, if this is one of your concerns – but you want to know that it fits you, how your body works, and what practice you’ll be doing most.
There are multiple factors that go into choosing a mat, so we’ve put together the following guide to help you think through each of them.
We’ve even recommended some of our faves at the end with descriptions of each one’s unique qualities!
Then, you’ll be on your way to picking the best yoga mat for you.
You’ll really want to think through how thick you want your mat to be.
On the one hand, you might be leaning towards a thinner one so that it rolls up and travels better, but too thin, and your knees will be sorry.
On the other hand, mats that are too thick keep you from having a smooth, strong connection with the floor, making poses like the Tree Pose harder to hold firm.
You’ll find mats of a variety of thickness.
Some are as thin as 1/16 of an inch while others can be as thick as ¼ of an inch. A standard yoga mat will typically be around 1/8 inch thick.
So how do you know what thickness is right for you?
Well, first of all, how much traveling will you be doing with it? And how much room do you have to store it?
If you plan to lug it around quite a bit or have little space, I’d lean towards one that’s around 1/8 inch thick.
Also, maybe try some out to figure out what your perfect comfort level is as far as feeling the connection with the floor.
If cushioning is more important to you, you could consider a premium yoga mat that’s around ¼ inch thick; if you’re a frequent traveler, you could opt for a foldable travel mat that’s much thinner than the typical one.
It may seem unimportant what material your mat is made of, but this factor is crucial.
Its stickiness, its texture, its eco-friendliness, its sponginess, its durability – all of this depends on what material the mat is made out of.
So, what are yoga mats made out of then? You’ll find that most often, they are made out of vinyl, or PVC.
Some companies have found more eco-friendly options, such as jute, natural or recycled rubber, and organic or natural cotton.
Probably the most durable, usable yoga mat is the one made out of vinyl – there’s a reason this material has stuck throughout the years.
It lasts through regular yoga practice for decades, and typically, PVC is the spongiest out of all the yoga mat options.
Jute and cotton have the least give, in contrast, and if you have a latex allergy, be sure you avoid any rubber ones.
Other than these few tips, the following factors will help you decide on a material.
Texture is a big deal. It affects traction as well as overall comfort.
You want to ensure that you’re not getting a mat that makes you slip and slide the entire time you’re doing yoga but, rather, adds structure and stability.
You’ll find mats have different textures either because of the material they are made of – jute, for example, has an organic roughness while PVC gives a textured, yet soft feel – or how they are made.
Some mats are made with a pattern of raised bumps, for example. You’ll find tons of options as far as texture.
If traction is your main goal but you don’t want a basic PVC mat, try a rubber, cotton, or jute mat that that has a man-made tactile pattern.
If you’d rather something smooth and soft, a PVC mat is your best option.
However, if being environmentally friendly is of utmost importance to you, try out some of the options that are more earth-conscious; some of them have surprisingly good traction!
Similar to texture, the stickiness of your mat helps you stay balanced and keeps you from slipping.
PVC yoga mats are undoubtedly the stickiest, so if you need help staying still during your poses but dislike a raised texture, you’ll need a PVC mat.
However, be sure you take care of the mat properly and clean it when dirty or it’ll lose its stickiness.
That means you wash your PVC mat before every use and whenever you notice yourself slipping more than usual.
Most of us who practice yoga hold true to ahimsa, or non-violence, so we’d much rather use mats that won’t add to the already-monumental landfill problem.
Eco-friendly mats are typically made out of natural or recycled rubber, but other material could be jute or organic cotton.
If being eco-friendly is a high priority for you, you’ll probably want to avoid the typical PVC mat as it is expensive and difficult to recycle and doesn’t break down in landfills.
Instead, search for a rubber, jute, or cotton mat that is as thick as you need it to be for comfort, storage, and portability and has just the right texture to make your hands, feet, and knees happy and your poses stable.
6. Price Range
The cheapest yoga mats are usually the basic 1/8 inch-thick, solid-color, PVC mats.
Things like color, pattern, design, premium thickness, cool textures, and antimicrobial treatments will cause the price to rise. You’ll also find that eco-friendly yoga mats are typically a higher price range.
This is totally up to you! What’s your style? Colorful and bright? Loud and patterned? Subdued and minimal?
Do you want your company logo on it? Once you’ve decided on the first six factors, have fun picking just the right style for you.
So, what are some of our personal favorites?
We now know that the best thick yoga mats aren’t just about thickness.
There are several features that go into a good yoga mat, and you’ll want a balance between what’s comfortable and what’s supportive.
Just to help you begin to apply all the features we’ve discussed and have some ideas of what a good mat looks like, here are eleven mats that offer both comfort and stability.
One reviewer decided to invest in this mat rather than use one of the ones at her Pilates studio and said, “I take Pilates class twice a week at my gym and the mats are horrible.
Too thin and worn due to a lot of use.
They have to be doubled and tripled in order to do the kneeling exercises without knee pain.
I researched this mat, and it is so awesome!
I cannot say enough good things about this mat and has made Pilates classes a joy (anyway as much as they can be!) I even bought another one for my 38-year-old daughter who does Pilates classes with me!”
“This is my first yoga mat and I love it! I’m not a tiny person and yet it’s firm enough to cushion, but soft enough to be comfy. I use it ripple side up and it isn’t slippery at all … and, believe me, I’m sweatin’! Namaste with this mat!” wrote another satisfied customer.
It’s closer to a standard size than the previous mat.
One purchaser writes: “I recently decided to try practicing yoga and was looking for a yoga mat on the cheaper end of the scale, rather than going out and spending $50+ on one just in case I decided yoga wasn’t for me.
After a little research, I chose this due to the price point and overall quality of reviews.
I am happy to say that I have been VERY pleased with this mat so far!
I would highly recommend this mat to anyone who is either just dipping their toes into yoga or who is looking for a solid, but affordable, yoga mat!”
One yoga teacher bought six off the bat for her class, saying, “I am in love, especially for the price.
I even use them instead of some of my expensive mats quite often and the green color has awesome energy.”
Most of them comment on how it’s “so much more comfortable” than other mats “because of the added thickness,” but it’s “not too squishy that it would mess up balance.”
In addition to 30 different colors and patterns to choose from, it has a non-toxic PVC construction and a non-slip, extra-traction surface.
In addition to all of this, the mat even comes with a downloadable yoga routine – and everything for just $30! However, if you’ve got injuries, take note that it is on the thinner side of the thicker mats. You may need more padding than it offers.
This mat was made with half an inch of impact-absorbing foam to protect your knees, spine, elbows, and wrists no matter how hard of a floor you’re practicing on.
The non-slip ridges give your hands, feet, and the floor underneath a thorough grip, and it’s even moisture resistant while simple to clean with just a wet towel.
The thickness absorbs any impact if you fall out of pose, and the whole thing comes with a free carrying strap!
However, it’s not ideal for balancing poses, and some reviewers weren’t too happy about the traction.
The HemingWeigh is great quality for its price, but it is just a half an inch of foam.
It’s designed with two layers; the bottom provides cushioning to protect your body from the hard floor, and the top layer grips your skin even if it’s sweaty with its textured, rubber-like material.
“Truly nonslip and the thickness is perfect,” one reviewer raves.
In addition, it’s reversible, made without harmful toxins, lightweight, and includes a free carrying strap!
“Incredible,” one buyer writes, “especially for someone like me with bad knees,” while another says, “thick enough [to protect] my elbow that I injured.”
Unlike typical mats, this mat is made from high-density foam that resists squishing and sinking more than other mats.
In addition, it offers a shock-absorbing consistency, horizontal ridges for a slip-free practice, and a bonus shoulder strap for easy travel!
However, this mat is much too thick to provide stability for poses like Tree, Chair, and Crow, so you’d need something a bit different for advanced balancing poses.
The jute not only provides grip and stability but “doesn’t seem to interfere with [reviewers’] balance” since it doesn’t sink down into itself.
It also absorbs moisture and feels like memory foam underneath your body.
However, as most eco-friendly products are, this mat is pricier than most; also, the jute may feel a bit prickly at first, but over time, it softens and smooths.
This particular one is made thicker than their PRO mat, specifically for beginners.
The top closed-cell surface is textured with tiny raised dots for traction, but it also has a second textured layer underneath for better comfort and support.
There’s even an alignment strip down the middle for proper positioning and centering, and it’s lightweight and is manufactured with energy-efficient techniques and without harmful toxins.
However, it is a beginner mat, after all, and is much cheaper than the rest of Manduka mats, so it’s also not as durable or as sticky as the more advanced ones.
I have a Manduka Pro-lite mat, but I never felt I got good balance on the carpeted floor. The thicker nature of this mat makes it ideal for carpeted floor.”
Another adds, “This mat is excellent for those wanting to practice yoga at home on carpet.
My other mats always slid around on my carpeted floor, but this one is heavy enough to stay put.
If you are committed to a yoga practice, invest in this mat and you won’t regret it.”
What makes this mat so appealing is its durability, its sticky, strong grip, its lifetime warranty, and the ability to use it on carpets.
As one yogi puts it: “This provides a firm surface for asanas even on wall-to-wall carpet.”
It’s 72’’ long and 24’’ wide, made up of high-density foam that is four times thicker compared to a traditional yoga mat to ensure properly protected joints and knees.
It’s moisture-resistance keeps you from slipping, and it’s built-in such a way that even while doing difficult poses, you’ll feel no knee or joint pain.
This is one of the thickest and sturdiest yoga mats on the market, so it’s great for those with weak joints or for doing physical therapy in addition to yoga or Pilates.
It has ridges which create a cooling effect and take in extra moisture, giving you a firm grip.
Lastly, the Yoga Cloud Ultra Thick possesses a high level of shock absorption capacity.
The name makes obvious its biggest quality – its thickness –, but it is also has a non-slip surface and is easy to transport!
Last of all, this product is made from high-quality materials without toxic phthalates or heavy metals.
Well, we’ve given you lots of information, from what features a yoga mat possesses to which ones are good and why, but now it’s time for you to take a moment and ask yourself what features are most important to you.
You’ll be ambushed with all sorts of options, but keep those qualities you’ve landed on at the forefront of your mind as you go out and shop.
Hope this helps! Happy shopping!