Types of Yoga Mats
Yoga mats provide a slip-resistant surface for all styles of yoga. They also provide a bit of cushioning between your limbs and unforgiving studio floors or uneven outdoor terrain. It can take some time to figure out what kind of yoga mat works best for you, but experts often recommend thicker mats for anyone who needs a bit more cushioning or enjoys practices such as Yin or restorative yoga that move slowly between each pose. A thinner mat might be a better choice for advanced moves that require a lot of stability and a solid connection with the ground, as in an Ashtanga or hybrid yoga-cardio class. Ultimately, however, it's personal preference: The best mat for you is the one that lets you focus on yoga, not whether your hands are slipping or your knees are aching.
Travel Yoga Mats
A major perk of yoga is that you can continue your practice wherever you go. Travel yoga mats usually weigh a few pounds at most, and they typically roll up more tightly than bigger mats. Certain travel mats are even foldable so you can stash them in a suitcase more easily. Typically, these mats are on the thinner side -- something to consider if you generally enjoy a thicker mat. Some also have a smaller surface area.
Hot Yoga Mats
Hot yoga classes are held in rooms that may be as hotter than 100 degrees, so buckets of sweat are a foregone conclusion. Experts say you'll need a very sticky mat to keep from sliding around during these sessions. Mats with the best grip are often made of natural rubber and have an open-cell surface. This means they absorb your sweat instead of repelling it, leaving less moisture to make the mat slippery. Others are made from synthetic materials such as PVC that have a special moisture-wicking coating.
If you have a mat that isn't very sticky or simply want extra traction, a yoga towel can be a valuable addition to your practice. Yoga towels are laid on top of your yoga mat to spare it from absorbing sweat, and they also provide a little more comfort and cushioning. Some yogis will use just a yoga towel while traveling, to save space. These towels are designed not to slip around, even during vigorous practice, and they can be tossed in the washer and dryer for easy cleaning.
Finding The Best Yoga Mats
"The 10 Best Yoga Mats"
"The Best Yoga Mat"
"The Best Yoga Mat"
In our research, we emphasized reviews that involved
comparative first-hand testing by professional yoga instructors. These included
helpful guides from OutdoorGearLab, Wirecutter and Reviews.com, along with input from
yoga professionals posted to sites like SoMuchYoga, Ekhart Yoga, Yoga Nomads,
Women's Health, Yoga Journal and ACE Fitness.
Of course, we also examined owner reviews at sources such as
Amazon and Yoga Outlet (which also posts expert recommendations from a yoga
instructor), to see how the mats stood up to day-to-day use. With all reviews,
we paid particular attention to the mats' versatility, durability, ease of
cleaning and portability, and whether some mats are better suited to certain
styles of yoga.
The best yoga
say it's hard to beat the (Est. $100 and up) for durability and
comfort. The PRO is touted as a great choice for nearly all styles of yoga, but
it's a particular standout for advanced students who need extra support while
they're attempting tough moves.
Note that if
you're a hot yoga student or tend to sweat a lot even in non-heated classes,
this might not be the best mat for you. Although the staffers at OutdoorGearLab
give this mat high marks for comfort and stability and ultimately award it a
Top Pick award, they also warn that it needs a break-in period to gain more
traction, and even then, the Manduka PRO's wet traction falls short of other
yoga mats. We see some positive reports from users who followed the
manufacturer's instructions for a sea salt scrub to improve the mat's traction,
but reviews of the salt's efficacy are mixed at best, and not everyone has time
for this sort of work-intensive maintenance.
The Manduka PRO
is made of PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. PVC has a bad rap in some sectors of the
yoga community because of environmental concerns that it isn't recyclable and
can release a variety of risky chemicals. To blunt this criticism, Manduka uses
an emissions-free manufacturing process. The mat is also certified safe for
human contact by OEKO-TEX, an environmental certification agency in Europe for
the textile industry. The mat receives high praise for durability, with
reviewers saying the Manduka PRO will last for years without losing its dense,
stable support. One caveat: experts with Ekhart Yoga note that with extended
use, it may unravel around the edges. But Manduka backs the mat with a lifetime
guarantee that most reviewers say they never need to use, although a few are
disappointed to find out that once you follow the recommended sea-salt-scrub
break-in process, it can't be returned.
The PRO is 1/4
inch thick, which is on the heftier side for a yoga mat. Some thick mats feel
wobbly, but reviewers say the Manduka PRO offers a very comfortable and stable
surface, regardless of where you practice. They also love that this mat doesn't
stink at first like some mats do, and say it's easy to keep clean. The extra
cushioning does come with one major drawback: The Manduka PRO weighs 7.5
pounds, which is quite heavy if you plan to carry your mat regularly.
The regular PRO
is 26 inches wide and 71 inches long, but for about $20 more you can buy an
85-inch version. Note: The 85-inch version's weight goes up to 9.5 pounds.
There are about a dozen colors, and for those with allergies this mat is
If you simply
can't envision schlepping a 7.5-pound yoga mat around, Manduka offers another well-reviewed option
that's easier to tote: the 4 pound (Est. $60 and up). Reviewers say this is a good pick for most practices because it's
durable, supportive and doesn't bunch up, and it's unusually well-cushioned for
a mat of this thickness (just under 1/5-inch). Again, experts and many users
caution that there are much better, stickier mats out there for hot yoga, and that
even the recommend sea salt scrub doesn't always make the PROlite stickier.
the Manduka PROlite's longevity and lack of odor, although there is one notable
review from the experts at SoMuchYoga that leans the other way, saying the mat,
although a favorite, tends to absorb odor unless it receives a time-consuming
sea salt scrub-and-wash. This mat's closed-cell surface is generally easy to
keep clean, but the same lack of absorption that makes it so easy to clean also
means that its grippiness falters once you start to sweat. Like the PRO, the
PROlite is made of PVC and backed by a lifetime guarantee.
The PROlite is
just 3/16 inch thick, but experts say it's still substantial enough for a
variety of practices from gentle to more intense. It is 24 inches wide and 71
inches long or, for about $15 more, you can buy a 79-inch version. There are
about a dozen colors to choose from, including vibrant shades of purple,
orange, and green.
If you want an
all-around mat that can do anything including hot yoga, Lululemon The Reversible Mat (Est. $70 and up) piles up an impressive collection of professional accolades, winning
"All-Around MVP" after hands-on testing from Outside Online, second
place in its category from OutdoorGearLab, and praise from a number of yoga
experts, including testers with Yoga Journal.
try to cram three mats in your closet when Lululemon's The Reversible Mat
handles all poses with aplomb," writes Katie Arnold for Outside Online.
The other pros unanimously praise this mat for its amazing wet and dry
traction, saying it's also stable enough for you to stay grounded during challenging
mat's 5mm thickness -- about 1/5-inch -- is extra-comfortable on knees and
elbows, although this mat is also available in a
3mm version (Est. $60 and up)
which works out to just over 1/10 of an inch. The 3mm version weighs just under
3.9 pounds, compared to the 5mm mat's 5.24-pound weight.
mats have a base of textured natural rubber with a thin, smooth polyurethane
coating on one side. Place the rubber side up for extra cushioning during
gentle yoga practice, or flip the mat over for superb grip and absorption, no
matter what. "Our testers' hands didn't budge -- no matter how hot and
sweaty class got," write the editors of Yoga Journal. The mat also draws
praise for its great durability from yoga instructor Claire Ewing, who was
consulted as part of an article in Women's Health.
natural rubber does produce a bit of a smell at first, although testers with
SoMuchYoga say it'll fade in a few weeks, and following the manufacturer's
recommendations to wash the mat in baking soda and water does help cut the
smell. They also report that the mat's antimicrobial coating does a good job of
preventing mildew and mold, but beware: This mat absorbs anything that touches
it to the degree that if you use soap or detergent to wash it, you might be
rinsing those out of the mat's pores for... basically forever.
and the initial rubber smell, are the only negatives we see reported on this mat,
which measures 71 inches by an extra-wide 26 inches. It's hard to argue with so
many expert accolades, it's only the relative lack of user reviews that keeps
us from awarding this mat our top pick.
those who only do yoga occasionally will probably be just fine with a basic
mat, and one of the best on the market is the (Est. $25), which testers with Wirecutter praise for feeling grippier
and being a good 6 inches longer than most mats in its price range. It also
gets a pick as "Best Beginner's Budget Mat" after hands-on testing
from Outside Online.
Users give the
YogaAccessories Extra Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat mixed reviews for stability: Some
are pleased with its stickiness, while others say they aren't impressed; the
Wirecutter editors draw the line at "particularly wobbly or sweaty
yogis," who they say will appreciate stickier models; see our section on hot yoga for recommendations.
Like the Manduka
mats we just covered, the YogaAccessories mat is also made with PVC, although
testers with Wirecutter like that its inks and dyes are phthalate-free. Its
1/4-inch thickness makes it relatively forgiving for newbies who want extra
cushioning if they slip, or for more advanced students who want a mat is thick
enough for trickier moves, although it compresses more (read: it's squishier)
than pricier mats.
Note that this
is the same thickness of the Manduka PRO, but at 3.6 pounds, the
YogaAccessories is half the weight. That bodes well for easier portability, but
long-term durability is questionable: Several reviewers say the mat is prone to
rips and tears and, while there is a limited lifetime warranty, it only covers
manufacturer's issues such as peeling or fading. That's a potential issue for
eco-conscious users who don't want to send a PVC product to a landfill. The mat
is 24 by 74 inches and comes in more than two dozen colors.
If your focus is
on slower, restorative practices like Yin yoga, the 1/4-inch-thick (Est. $35) gets wonderful reviews for its
comfort and supportiveness. The experts at Ekhart Yoga describe it as
"lusciously thick without feeling unstable," although they also warn
that it's probably not for those with sweaty hands or feet or those with a very
active practice, which definitely rules hot yoga out. Most users agree,
although they also say adding a yoga towel is all it takes to enjoy this mat's
dense, supportive cushioning during hot classes.
For those with a
gentler practice or in search of enough cushioning for tender knees and elbows,
this mat is an unqualified hit even without the towel. It attracts thousands of
positive user reviews for its cushioning (just enough for your hands and toes
to sink in a bit), its density (it won't wobble or stretch beneath you), and
small details like the moon-shaped focal point. Most users also confirm the
manufacturer's no-odor claims -- those who do mention any odor say it's slight
-- and they love dealing with a small, family-owned company.
Most users are
very pleased with this mat's toughness and durability too, especially given the
price; we see some posting that they've used this mat for years and it's still
going strong. The Aurorae Classic Yoga Mat measures 72 inches by 24 inches --
plenty of space for most tall yogis -- comes in a dozen bright colors, and is
free of phthalates, phenols, PAHS, latex, silicone and rubber.
travel yoga mats
If you've ever
dreamed of doing sun salutations on a tropical beach, a travel mat might be
just the ticket. These mats are typically lighter and thinner than the average
mat, making them easier to squeeze into luggage or toss in a tote bag.
mats, the (Est. $60) offers the best blend of performance and
portability. While it's heavier than some other travel options, reviewers say
its easy-to-grip surface makes it ideal for any kind of yoga, including hot
Jade is noted in
the yoga community for eco-friendly products, and the Jade Travel Mat is no
exception. It's made of sustainably harvested, biodegradable natural rubber --
there are no PVCs or other synthetic materials. Jade yoga mats are also made in
the U.S., and the company plants a tree for every mat it sells. However, as
with many natural rubber mats there is a strong odor, especially at first.
Reviewers note that the sticky open-cell surface can attract lint or other
debris and stain easily, and warn that the mat shouldn't be stored in direct
The Jade Travel
Mat is 1/8-inch thick, which reviewers say provides enough support without
making it too bulky. "Jade's thinnest mat is very sturdy," write the
staff of Ekhart Yoga. "It does not gather during Sun Salutations and
grounds you nicely in balancing poses." The mat's textured, grippy surface
is also sticky enough for all but very heavy sweaters, although most users who
want to use this mat for hot yoga end up adding a towel. Also, that sticky,
grippy rubber tends to attract (and hold) dirt and dust.
The Jade Travel
Mat can be rolled or folded for easier transport in luggage. However, it weighs
a bit over 3 pounds, which some complain is still too heavy for a travel mat.
This mat is 24 inches wide and comes in two lengths: 68 and 74 inches. The
extra length will run you about $5 more. There are four color choices: black,
midnight blue, olive and purple, and although users do say the mat marks
easily, those marks are also easy to wipe off.
option for travelers is the (Est. $35 and up). It can be rolled, but it also folds the most neatly of all the
travel mats we've seen -- small enough to fit in the pocket of a carry-on
suitcase -- and has embossed lines that guide you when you fold it up. Those
lines are visible when the mat is laid open, but nobody seems to mind much, and
some users find them helpful for maintaining alignment. The YoFoMat also comes
with a lightweight travel case, although we see many reports that the case tears
quickly or the zipper fails.
YoFoMat weighs 2.7 pounds, and its 1/6-inch thickness is reasonable for a
travel mat. It measures a 24 by 72 inches, and is also available in a
26-inch-wide version that weighs just under 5 pounds -- fairly hefty for a
travel mat -- or in an extra-cushioned 1/4-inch-thick version that weighs in at
a relatively reasonable 3.2 pounds, given its padding.
We see very
mixed reviews about the Khataland YoFoMat's grippiness, though, which seem to
be predicated on how much you do (or don't) sweat. If you know your hands or
feet sweat or if you intend to use this mat for hot yoga, most users agree that
you're going to need to add a towel.
you're the type who likes to use a yoga towel in addition to a yoga mat, you
might enjoy traveling with the (Est. $70) combines the merits of a yoga towel and mat in one with a
sweat-absorbing microfiber layer permanently bonded to a grippy rubber base.
At 4.1 pounds,
this isn't the lightest travel mat out there -- but Yoga Nomads names it as
"the ultimate travel companion" thanks to its two-in-one construction
and a travel strap that makes it easy to carry around. The Yoga Design Lab
Combo Mat measures 24 inches by 70 inches, and you can read more about nearly
unbeatable grip for sweaty practices in our section on mats and towels for hot yoga. Just be warned that if you're doing a gentle practice that
doesn't generate sweat, you may need to spritz this mat down to keep from