How To Choose the BEST Yoga Mat in 8 Steps


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Finding the best yoga mat for your practice isn’t always easy. To ensure you choose the right one for you, you need to make sure it is suitable for your practice and that it matches your lifestyle.

Whether you’re buying your first yoga mat or your fiftieth, browsing online or in-person, I’m here to help.

Before you even step onto your new yoga mat, it’s helpful to know all the little details of the mat that will be with you over the next several hundred practices, along with what to expect during the selection process. Finally, take a look at my favorite yoga mats right now in your favorite categories, from most cushioned to the best for sweaty practices.

Suggestions:

• My choice: My go-to mat has always been my Manduka Pro. I’ve had it for almost 11 years and grip is still fantastic.

• Affordable choice: The Jade Harmony is a win-win as it’s also an eco-friendly choice. It’s a 100% natural rubber mat that is a great option for most practitioners.

• Best alignment: Liforme mats are not only super useful with their intelligent alignment system, they also offer exceptional grip, with both dry and sweaty hands.

• Best looking: Similarly to Liforme mats, the Sugarmat yoga mats are of premium quality. These mats have a rubber base with a non-slip top surface. They come in really beautiful patterns!

What To Look for in a Yoga Mat

To get things started, it’s helpful to understand what to look for in a yoga mat and how even the slightest differentiation may affect your practice. Here are the main elements to know.

1. Yoga Mat Grip

Grip is a key thing to look for in a yoga mat, especially if your practice involves staying in poses like downward-facing dog for a few breaths.

I remember when I bought my very first mat. It was super cheap but it had a pretty pattern on it. And then during that very first downward-facing dog, I realized that this was not a good investment! I was sliding all over the place!

And so for anyone who practices a dynamic form of yoga, such as Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa, or Power yoga, having a yoga mat with good grip will make all the difference to your practice.

Type of yoga you practiceDo you need a mat with good grip?
Ashtanga yogadefinitely
Vinyasa flowdefinitely
Power yogadefinitely
Hathayes
Yin yogano
Restorativeno
yoga mat grip needs depend on the type of yoga you practice

And yet, did you know that grip can be different with dry and with wet hands? I recently filmed a video where I did a little experiment. I tested the grip of 7 of the best yoga mats on the market with dry and sweaty hands.

If you’re wondering yoga mat to go for, be sure to read how I rated the grip of the 7 most popular yoga mats. And this may help you decide which one is best for you.

2. Yoga Mat Thickness

yoga mat thickness
Average yoga mat thickness selections

Thickness is an important factor when looking for a yoga mat. There are 4 different yoga mat thickness types. Extra thick yoga mats (6mm+) for sensitive joints, thick yoga mats (6mm) to protect joints and average yoga mats (4-5mm) are the most commonly used.

When looking at the ideal thickness for you and your practice there are certain things to consider.

For example, if you have sensitive joints of bad knees, then aim for a thick yoga mat. I have students with sensitive knees that come to my Hatha classes and use the extra thick 12mm mats.

Most of my students that come to my Hatha and Ashtanga classes practice on mats that range from 4-6mm. My personal favorite is the Manduka Pro which is 6mm.

Questions to considerWhat yoga mat thickness do I need?
Will you carry your mat to your studio?4mm-5mm
Do you practice Ashtanga or Vinyasa?4mm-6mm
Do you need a foldable mat?1-2mm
Do you have sensitive joints?6mm and above
Things to consider when looking at yoga mat thickness

In fact, I did some research into what mat ashtanga practitioners use and I found that the vast majority (73%) prefer to practice on the 6mm Manduka Pro.

If you would like to find out more, check out my article on How To Choose The PERFECT Yoga Mat Thickness.

3. Easy to clean

Having a yoga mat that is easy to clean can make all the difference. Think about it. It’s a surface that our hands, feet, face, and sweat come in direct contact with.

And so if it isn’t cleaned regularly, this can become a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. This, in turn, may lead to germs and fungi growing (ever wondered why your yoga mat smells sometimes?!)

If you are wondering what yoga mats are the easiest to clean, look out for closed-cell yoga mats that have a smooth surface that is easily wiped and won’t absorb any sweat.

For more information on cleaning be sure to check out my article: How To Clean a Yoga Mat The Right Way. If you already know how to clean your mat but are looking for the best yoga mat cleaner, this article is for you: 7 BEST Yoga Mat Cleaner Sprays: I Tried Them All.

Alternatively, if you decide to choose an eco-friendly rubber, jute, or cotton, be sure to let it air dry, especially after a sweaty practice.

There are a variety of ways to clean your yoga mat. If you want to see me show you how I clean all my mats, check out my YouTube video:

As a side note, I wrote an article titled How To Clean a Yoga Mat The Right Way. Be sure to check it out!

4. Durability

A yoga mat may be the only thing you ever have to buy for your practice. And so naturally, it makes sense to want to invest in a mat that will last for quite some time!

If you have ever wondered how long yoga mats last, as a general rule, they last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. This is particularly true f you have a daily dynamic practice.

If on the other hand, you have a more sporadic light practice, then your mat may last a lot longer.

Another factor that affects the durability of a yoga mat is the yoga mat material. Indeed, rubber yoga mats tend to not last as long as more durable PVC or Polyurethane mats.

Lastly, taking care of your mat may help prolong its life. This can involve things like cleaning it regularly, letting it air dry after a sweaty practice, and even taking the time to read the instructions it comes with!

For more information on yoga mat life and how to help it last longer, check out my article: Yoga Mat Life: How Long Do They Last, and What Lasts Longest?

5. Sustainability

Most yoga mats are eco-friendly. And of course, it is very important that the one you choose is sustainably made and eco-friendly.

And so for this reason, I have collected what websites of popular brands have to say about their yoga mats. Check the table below:

Yoga matWhat they say about sustainability
Manduka Pro“Designed to last years, the PRO Series curb the amount of PVC mats that enter landfills every year and reduces overall mat consumption. During the manufacturing of most PVC products, toxic emissions may be released into the air. However, the PRO Series are manufactured through a process that ensures no toxic emissions are released into the atmosphere.”
Lululemon“By 2025, we will achieve at least 75 percent sustainable materials for our products—including fibres that recycled, renewable, regenerative, sourced responsibly, or some combination thereof, and/or are manufactured using low-resource processes.”
BMat“Our traditional B MAT is made of 100% rubber with natural and synthetic components. The natural rubber used in our mats is inherently grippy and antimicrobial, making it perfect for a sweaty practice. The small amount of synthetic rubber is used to increase the durability and longevity of the mat.”
Sugarmat“Respects the planet: Our bottom rubber is sourced from 100% natural rubber, while the top is made of suede. No toxic materials. Biodegradable: Sustainable, recyclable and reusable. This is really the ultra cool mat.”
Liforme“We make our yoga mats in the most planet-friendly way possible to help conserve this place we call home. We also support those who are working hard to protect the Earth”
Eco-friendly yoga mats

For more information on yoga mat material and whether it is sustainable or not, check out my article: Yoga Mat Material of all Popular Yoga Mats

6. Travel and Weight

Weight is a factor that will determine how easy or not it is to carry your mat. And so if you plan to have your it in one place, then you can get away with a heavy yoga mat.

For example, I leave my 3.4kg Manduka Pro at my studio and never really move it from there.

When I travel, I aim to use one of my lighter yoga mats, such as the 2.5kg Liforme.

And lastly, when I can only travel with a backpack, then I use my ultralight 0.9kg Manduka travel mat.

Factors that determine ideal yoga mat weightYoga mat options
Have a yoga mat in one placeHeavy mat (e.g. Manduka Pro at 3.4kg)
Travel to and from the studio with matAverage weight mat (e.g. Lululemon at 2.4kg)
Travel with only a backpackTravel mat (e.g. Manduka travel at 0.9kg)
yoga mat weight options

For more information on the weight of the most popular yoga mats, check out my article here.

7. Size (Length, Width, Thickness)

Size generally involves three dimensions:

  • Length – This generally ranges from 68″/173cm to 72″/185cm
  • Width – This generally ranges from 24″/61cm to 26″/66cm
  • Thickness – This generally ranges from the thin 1.5mm to the very thick 10mm yoga mats.

The main dimension I think is the most important is thickness, which was discussed above.

The only case in which length may be an issue is if you are tall. Then it may be important to look out for a long yoga mat.

For tall people of 6’2″ consider looking out for a long yoga mat. The reason is that it is nice to practice on a mat that is not too much shorter than you. The 5 main options are Manduka Pro, BYOGA Strong, BYOGA Everyday at 85″, Manduka ProLite at 79″ and lastly the Luxury Cork mat at 80″.

If you would like more information on yoga mat sizes and how to find the right one for you, check out my article Yoga Mat Size of all Popular Yoga Mats.

8. Cost (Cheap vs expensive)

The type of mat you may end up choosing may just depend on your budget.

There are a wide variety of yoga mats to choose from which may range from the cheap $20 mats to the more expensive around $120. Keep in mind that this can go all the way up to $180!

If you’re wondering if expensive yoga mats are worth it, in my opinion, yes there are.

There is a reason they are more expensive. Well actually, there are many reasons they are more expensive. For more information, check out my article: 8 Reasons Expensive Yoga Mats Are Worth The Cost.

Avoid Common Buying Mistakes

Yoga teachers see their students making the same mistakes again and again when they come to class with a new mat. But not you, not anymore, thanks to the best advice I can give.

Mistake #1: Buying for looks. Some yoga practitioners are too concerned with fashion and in most cases its best to steer away from that. In my experience, often, when they get a mat that looks cool, they end up telling me that next time they’ll ask for my opinion before buying a yoga mat.

Mistake #2: Not buying a thick enough mat. You don’t have to have bad knees to consider the thickness of your mat. I have one student who bought a premium mat, only to realize that it actually isn’t thick enough for him. What he ended up doing is using communal yoga mats from the studio and placing his one on top, just for that extra cushioning. That it why I generally recommend going for 6mm.

Mistake #3: Buying mats that don’t have good grip. Good grip is the number one thing you should be looking for, especially if your practice involves staying in poses like downward-facing dog. The last thing you want is to be sliding all over the place during your practice. If you are still tiring to figure out which yoga mats have good grip, check out my YouTube video where I test the grip with both dry and sweaty hands.

Final Word

If I could offer one piece of advice as you attempt to find the mat of your dreams, it would be to keep things focused on what YOU specifically need. This is a personal journey, so pay attention to the factors most important to you and your yoga practice. If you do that, I have no doubt you’ll step on to a mat that’s totally right for you. 

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Alexia Koletsou

Alexia Koletsou is a Level 1 Authorized Ashtanga Yoga Teacher with a Ph.D. in Science Communication. She received her blessing to teach Ashtanga Yoga in 2019, from the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India, where she has had the honor of practicing with R. Sharath Jois multiple times over the years. She is the owner of her own Shala in Greece and now shares her knowledge on yogamyoldfriend.com and her YouTube channel Alexia K Yoga.

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