How To Choose The PERFECT Yoga Mat Thickness


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If you’re just getting started in yoga and learning about yoga mats, it can be really complicated to understand all the different yoga mat types and what each thickness is ideal for. Let’s begin with understanding what the best yoga mat thickness is.

As a general rule, there are 4 different yoga mat thickness types. Extra thick yoga mats (6mm+) are ideal for sensitive joints. Thick yoga mats (6mm) can protect joints and average yoga mats (4-5mm) are the most commonly used. Travel mats (1-2mm) are very thin but great for folding into a backpack.

Next, we need to understand what yoga mat thickness is perfect for us.

In the rest of the article I will:

  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of each yoga mat thickness
  • Discuss the types of yoga that are most suited to each yoga mat thickness
  • Give you a recommendations of highly rated yoga mats in each thickness category
  • I will help you decide which yoga mat thickness is the best for you

For more information on how to find your ideal yoga mat, here is How To Choose the BEST Yoga Mat in 8 Steps.

Yoga Mat Thickness Chart

How To Choose The PERFECT Yoga Mat Thickness

Let’s first have a look at the 4 main yoga mat thickness types and what each is best for. This may help you understand which types of best for you.

Yoga mat thicknessBest for
1Extra thick yoga mats (more than 6mm)Sensitive joints, grounding practices like Yin yoga and Restorative yoga
2Thick yoga mats (6mm)Someone who likes a bit of extra cushioning. The much loved Manduka Pro by Ahstanga practitioners is 6mm thick
3Average thickness yoga mats (4-5mm)This thickness is the most commonly used for all types of yoga.
4Travel yoga mats (1-2mm)These are best for travel as they can simply be folded and placed in your backpack. There are too thin to be used for regular practice.

Let’s now have a look at these in greater detail.

1. Extra thick yoga mats (more than 6mm)

Extra thick yoga mat (6mm+)

If you’re someone who wants to protect their joints during yoga, then an extra thick yoga mat may be your ideal mat. A typical example of a thick and soft yoga mat is the Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat.

Advantages

These yoga mats tend to be soft meaning that they will be able to provide more cushioning for your joints. Think of it as having a soft surface that will make poses a lot more comfortable.

If you have sensitive joints (knees, wrists mainly) the last thing you want is to be putting pressure on your joints during class. The reason is that extra pressure on your joints will make your yoga practice more uncomfortable and may even lead to further injury.

And so, an extra thick and soft yoga mat is recommended for sensitive joints.

Disadvantages

Extra thick yoga mats may limit how dynamic your yoga practice can be.

If you want to practice a dynamic form of yoga, like Ashtanga or Vinyasa flow, then an extra thick yoga mat may be too thick for you.

However, if you aim to practice grounding practices like Yin yoga or Restorative yoga, then this type of yoga mat may be fine! It really depends on what type of yoga you are going to be doing.

Who is this perfect for?

This type of yoga mat is perfect for anyone with sensitive joints, who wants to practice grounding practices like Yin yoga or Restorative yoga.

Extra thick yoga mat recommendation: Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat

You’ll notice that the Gaiam Essentials Thick yoga mat ticks many of the boxes regarding yoga mats for sensitive joints.

The reason for this is that not only is it a very thick yoga mat, but it also made of foam, meaning that it can offer additional cushion and support. In this way, they promise that you will experience a soft and thick surface for your sore joints.

This mat has textured ridges that will be able to help with grip and this way can help reduce any slipping. Anyone with sensitive joints will definitely want to check this yoga mat out.

Features to love about the Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat:

  • 6.35mm thick meaning that it will provide you with a lot of cushioning
  • Comes with a strap
  • It comes in 7 colors
  • Non toxic and 6p free
  • Affordable

2. Thick yoga mats (6mm)

Thick yoga mat (6mm)

Are you looking for a yoga mat that provides some cushioning for your joints? Yes? This may be the yoga mat for you.

Advantages

I have practiced on a wide variety of yoga mats and I will say that I prefer to practice on thick yoga mats. However, I will point out that thick yoga mats don’t necessarily mean soft yoga mats, like the extra thick ones.

For me, the best type of mat is a thick 6mm dense mat. Why? Well, it is thick enough so you don’t feel the floor beneath you, your joints are protected, your hands and feet don’t sink into the mat.

Plus, if the mat has a good grip, well then it is a perfect yoga mat for all types of yoga practice, from a dynamic Ashtanga to a more grinding Yin yoga practice.

Disadvantages

The key disadvantage of a thick and dense yoga mat is that is most likely going to be rather heavy. For example, my Manduka Pro is 3.4kg. And this can be a lot if you want to travel with it or carry it to your local studio.

Who is this perfect for?

This type of yoga mat is perfect for anyone who wants extra cushioning for their joints. If you get a thick yoga mat with great grip (like the Manduka Pro) then this mat is perfect for dynamic yoga practices like Ashtanga and Vinyasa and also for grounding practices like Yin yoga.

Thick yoga mat recommendation: Manduka Pro Yoga Mat

The Manduka Pro Yoga Mat is the yoga mat I have had for the past 11 years. I absolutely love this mat. You will have it for life and it even comes with a lifetime guarantee. It is 6mm thick meaning that it is a thick mat.

However, this one is much denser than the previous mats. And so this means that this is a yoga mat for bad knees only if you also use a knee pad or a blanket on top to allow for a softer surface for your knees.

Features to love about the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat:

  • This is a mat for life as it offers a lifetime guarantee
  • It is 6mm thick, meaning that it offers great cushioning of sensitive joints
  • It comes in two lengths, regular 71 Inches and Extra Long 85 Inches
  • It was crafted in an emissions-free facility

Of course, there really is no perfect yoga mat, and so in my opinion, the only two drawbacks of this yoga mat is:

1. This is quite a heavy yoga mat, and so this may not be your best option if you have to carry it to your local yoga studio, or if you are planning on traveling with it.

2. You may have to break it in at first to experience the superior grip. For more information check my video: https://www.youtube.com/embed/oxAUnLFJ59E?feature=oembed

3. Average thickness yoga mats (4-5mm)

Average yoga mat (4-5mm)

This is the most commonly used yoga mat and most yoga mat brands will provide this yoga mat thickness.

Advantages

One of the ket advantages of this yoga mat is that it offers just enough cushioning for most types of yoga. This means that if you don’t have any concerns with your joints, you may be absolutely fine with this yoga mat thickness.

Two further advantages of this thickness of yoga mat are that it will be both cheaper and lighter than their 6mm equivalent.

Many yoga mat brands make a wide range of yoga mats in a variety of thicknesses. For example, my much-loved Manduka Pro comes in 6mm, 5mm, and 4mm options! There are certain differences between these yoga mats, however, they are all highly rated.

Disadvantages

The key disadvantage of this type of yoga mat is that if you like a bit of extra cushioning, this may not be the yoga mat for you.

Who is this perfect for?

This type of yoga mat is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have sensitive joints and is great for all types of yoga.

Average yoga mat thickness recommendation: Gaiam Dry Grip Yoga Mat

You’ll notice that the Gaiam Dry Grip yoga mat tickets many of the boxes regarding yoga mats for most yoga practitioners. The reason for this is that not only is it a rather thick yoga mat, but it also has a stay-dry topcoat that promises to remove any moisture that is on the surface.

This way, they promise that you will experience the ultimate grip, regardless of how sweaty you may become during your practice.

This mat develops a stickiness when damp. And so people who sweat a lot will definitely want to check this yoga mat out.

Features to love about the Gaiam Dry Grip Yoga Mat:

  • 5mm thick meaning that it will also provide you with a lot of cushioning
  • This is a closed-cell mat, meaning that it helps seal out germs, odor and bacteria
  • It is lightweight
  • It comes in 4 colors
  • The black mat is available in two lengths (68 inches and 7 inches).
  • It has a beautiful pattern

One other point to note about the Gaiam Dry Grip Yoga mat is that it may release quite a strong odor when you first unwrap it. This is very common with yoga mats and the smell will slowly fade away. To get the odor to leave, try unrolling it and airing it out for a few days before practicing on it.

4. Travel yoga mats (1-2mm)

Travel yoga mat (1-2mm)

Travel yoga mats are perfect if you know you will be traveling and you don’t have much space in your suitcase.

As a side note, I wrote an article about how to travel with a yoga mat on a plane. Check it out if you are interested in traveling soon!

Advantages

The two main advantages of travel yoga mats are that they are very thin and very light. This means that they can easily be folded and placed in your backpack.

Disadvantages

Their advantage is also their disadvantage. And so what I mean by that is that the main disadvantage is that they are very thin. This means that your joints will not be protected when you practice.

If you will be practicing on a hard floor (e.g. concrete, tiles, or wood) a travel yoga mat may make your practice slightly uncomfortable.

What I like to do with my travel mat is whether place it on a carpet or if I go to a yoga retreat, I may borrow or even buy a very cheap yoga mat and simply place my travel mat on top.

Who is this perfect for?

This type of yoga mat is perfect for anyone who wants to go traveling and wants to travel extra light.

Extra thin yoga mat recommendation: Manduka PRO Travel Yoga Mat

You’ll notice that the Manduka Travel mat ticks many of the boxes regarding yoga mats for traveling on a plane.

The reason for this is that not only is it a very thin yoga mat but it is also foldable, meaning simply fold it up and place it in your backpack. In this way, you will have no problem bringing your yoga mat on the plane.

This mat has excellent grip, and so any traveling yogis will definitely want to check this yoga mat out.

Features to love about the Manduka PRO Travel Yoga Mat

  • 2.5mm thick
  • Excellent grip
  • It comes in 5 colors
  • Eco-friendly yoga mat
  • Foldable

One other point to note about the Manduka travel mat is that because it is so thin, you may want to place it on top of a softer surface for when you practice. This could be an old yoga mat or even a carpet.

What is the best thickness for a yoga mat?

As a general rule, the best yoga mat thickness is one where you feel comfortable during your practice. Extra thick yoga mats (6mm+) are great for sensitive joints, but not for dynamic yoga practices. Thick yoga mats (6mm) are great to protect your joints. Average thickness mats (4-5mm) are the most commonly used.

Is a 4mm or 6mm yoga mat better?

Both 4mm and 6mm yoga mats are good yoga mat thicknesses, and as such are very commonly used yoga mats. The difference is that 6mm yoga mats provide that extra cushioning which may offer your joints a little extra cushioning. And so between these two, I generally recommend the 6mm option.

Is a 10mm yoga mat good?

As a whole, a 10mm yoga mat will provide a soft and thick surface for your joints. However, it may limit how dynamic your yoga practice can be. And so if you want to practice a dynamic form of yoga, like Ashtanga or Vinyasa flow, then a 10mm yoga mat may be too thick for you.

Are thick or thin yoga mats better?

As a whole, thick and thin yoga mats can be great for a variety of yoga practices. Thick yoga mats can provide extra cushioning for your joints, while thin yoga mat will be lighter and easier to travel with. The most commonly used yoga mats are between 4 and 6mm, as both provide enough cushioning.

Is 3mm or 5mm yoga mat better?

The 5mm yoga mat is beter than the 3mm. The main reason is that the 3mm may feel a bit too thin, and this means that especially if you practice on a hard floor (concrete, tiles, wood) you may feel uncomfortable using a 3mm yoga mat. On the other hand, a 5mm provides sufficient thickness and cushioning.

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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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