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Shopping Guide for Yoga Mats

Yoga has grown in popularity in recent years, no doubt due to the plethora of benefits it offers. Not only can it increase flexibility, build muscle strength and tone, and help you lose weight, it’s also known to reduce stress and improve concentration.

Best of all, yoga doesn’t put too much stress on your joints, so nearly everyone can give it a try!

If you’re going to take yoga seriously, you need the right equipment – and that begins with a good yoga mat.

While you might be tempted to select a yoga mat based on color alone, there are other factors you should consider before buying one. You need a yoga mat that provides enough cushioning, uses the right material, and provides a textured surface you can work with.

In India, ancient yoga was actually practiced on grass, hard earth, or deer or tiger skin rugs.

At BestReviews, we strive to put forth well-researched, unbiased product recommendations you can trust.

We conducted field research and spoke with our expert consultant, Samantha, to develop a clear understanding of the top yoga mats on the market. We’re fully prepared pass along the info necessary to help you make an informed shopping decision.

If you’re ready to buy a yoga mat, please check out the above matrix for our top recommendations.

For general information on choosing a yoga mat, continue reading our shopping guide.

Samantha
EXPERT CONSULTANT

Samantha Attard, nutrition PhD, is a consultant, coach, yoga instructor, and founder of Happy Healthy Human. Through her business, Samantha provides personalized health solutions to individuals and groups of all sizes. She also has a line of health snacks that to help individuals all over the country eat with intention. Her research has been featured in the British Medical Journal, Diabetologia, and Journal of Hypertension, among others.


Samantha  |  Nutrition PhD and Consultant

Yoga Mat Materials

Materials

Rubber

Rubber is another popular yoga mat material, and it’s considered an eco-friendly alternative to PVC. Rubber mats are as durable and supportive as PVC styles, but they’re a better option for environmentally minded practitioners.

If you have allergies, however, the latex could be an issue.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Jade Harmony Professional 74" x 3/16" Yoga Mat

Slip-Resistant

The Jade Harmony's slip-resistant surface is one its biggest selling points. Since yoga poses are all about balance, maintaining stability is crucial. This can be more difficult when the practitioner is sweating, but the Jade Harmony does its job well. The mat's thickness is ideal for cushioning the joints and pressure points without compromising balance.

Materials

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC is one of the most popular materials for yoga mats. PVC mats tend to be inexpensive, and mats of this material are often a great choice for beginners because they’re reasonably durable, comfortable, and provide good grip.

However, PVC yoga mats do contain phthalates and dangerous toxins, and they aren’t recyclable, so this isn’t an eco-friendly option.

DID YOU KNOW?

As of 2016, more than 36 million people in the U.S. practice yoga.

Materials

Foam

Like rubber, foam yoga mats are an environmentally friendly alternative to PVC mats. They provide the same performance but are recyclable and toxin-free. Foam mats can also contain latex, however, so they don’t work for practitioners with allergies.

Materials

PER (Polymer Environmental Resin)

PER yoga mats are actually made from PVC. However, PER doesn’t have phthalates or toxins and can be recycled, so it’s a relatively eco-friendly option.

Yoga mats typically come in six materials: PVC, rubber, foam, PER, cotton, and jute.

Staff
BestReviews
Materials

Cotton

Cotton yoga mats are a very eco-friendly option because they’re made from a renewable, natural material and are biodegradable. They tend to be thinner than other mats, however, so they don’t offer as much support. But cotton mats absorb sweat effectively and provide a good grip, even when wet.

Materials

Jute

Jute yoga mats are similar to cotton mats in that they are made from a natural, renewable, and biodegradable material. They also provide effective traction. However, jute mats don’t absorb moisture as well as cotton and aren’t as supportive as other options.

EXPERT TIP

Take good care of your mat by cleaning it regularly and drying it off after using.


Samantha  | Nutrition PhD and Consultant

Yoga Mat Stickness and Texture

Stickiness and texture

Yoga Mat Stickiness

In order to help you hold your pose and maintain proper alignment, you may wish to seek a yoga mat that has some stickiness to it.

PVC, foam, and PER yoga mats have a good amount of stickiness to them, while rubber mats have a moderate amount. Cotton and jute yoga mats don’t provide much in the way of stickiness at all.

Avoid wearing out your yoga mat by using both sides of it. Flip it over from time to time to make sure one side doesn’t bear the brunt of all your sessions.

Samantha
Nutrition PhD and Consultant
Stickiness and texture

Yoga Mat Texture

Pay attention to the texture of the yoga mats you’re considering for purchase.

A yoga mat with the right texture can help you stay in position more easily, preventing your hands and feet from slipping and sliding during poses.

Rubber, cotton, and jute yoga mats tend to have the most textured surfaces for effective traction. PVC, foam, and PER yoga mats usually have smooth surfaces that don’t provide much traction.

EXPERT TIP

Some mats wear out faster in the heat and sun, so make sure you don’t leave your mat in a hot car.


Samantha  | Nutrition PhD and Consultant

Yoga Mat Thickness

The most important feature of a yoga mat is its thickness, which provides cushioning as you practice your poses.

Our expert consultant Samantha advises against choosing a mat that’s too thick. “There are some yoga mats that are actually workout mats,” she says of thicker styles. “The very squishy, thick yoga mats tend to stretch, making it hard to find stability in lunges and poses like Downward-Facing Dog.”

Thickness

¼-inch Thickness

Yoga mats with a ¼-inch thickness are common. They provide a great deal of cushioning and are very durable. However, they can be fairly heavy.

Cotton and jute yoga mats are ideal for people who prefer natural materials. If you choose, you can layer a cotton or jute mat over another mat to increase traction and support.

Staff
BestReviews
Thickness

⅛-inch Thickness

Yoga mats with an ⅛-inch thickness provide a good deal of support and cushioning. They’re fairly durable and lightweight enough for easy carrying. They do tend to wear out sooner than thicker mats, however.

Thickness

1/16-inch Thickness

Yoga mats with a 1/16-inch thickness are usually the thinnest available. They are extremely lightweight, which makes for easy transport. However, they don’t offer much in the way of support or cushioning, so they’re a poor option if you suffer from joint issues.

EXPERT TIP

Choose the mat weight and thickness that makes the most sense for you. If you carry it around and do a lot of walking, a light mat may make more sense. If you have sensitive knees, a little more padding could feel great.


Samantha  | Nutrition PhD and Consultant

Yoga Mat Length

Yoga mats come in a variety of sizes, but the standard size is 24 x 68 inches.

A yoga mat’s length is the measurement that varies the most. Taller individuals may prefer mats that are 72 to 74 inches long, but you can even find styles that are as long as 84 inches.

In general, you should choose a yoga mat that’s at least six inches longer than you are tall.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Aurorae Premium Classic Yoga Mat

Traditional Yoga Mat

The Aurorae Premium mat works best for traditional forms of yoga. (Some users have said it does not hold up as well when used for power yoga or hot yoga classes.) However, the company offers a two-year guarantee, and owners have had favorable experiences with the company's customer service. Regular care will help prolong the Aurorae mat's life. Leaving it in the sun is not a problem; in fact, the care instructions recommend drying it in the sun after cleaning.

Yoga Mat Style

You can find yoga mats in every color of the rainbow and a wide variety of patterns. Which should you choose? That’s a matter of personal preference.

Opt for a yoga mat style that will make you excited to practice yoga each day.

But remember that, as our expert Samantha explains, “A pretty design doesn’t mean it’s a better mat. Find a material and thickness that feels good for you, and worry about the design later.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Some mats come with carrying cases, bags, straps, or other features that make them more or less desirable for a particular type of yoga.

Yoga Mat Prices

Yoga mats vary in price based on their thickness, material, and length, but you can typically expect to pay between $15 and $125.

  • For a thinner yoga mat that doesn’t offer much in the way of cushioning, you’ll usually pay between $15 and $25.

  • For a mat with medium thickness that provides moderate cushioning, you’ll usually pay between $30 to $50.

  • For a thicker mat that offers a great deal of cushioning, you’ll usually pay between $55 and $100.

According to a Norwegian study, regular yoga practice can actually help strengthen the immune system on a genetic level.

Yoga Mat Tips

  • To avoid a smelly mat, wipe it down with a mat-cleaning spray (a mix of water and vinegar) or just plain water after each yoga workout.

  • If your yoga mat is particularly dirty, soak it in the bathtub and scrub it down with a sponge to remove the grime. Roll it up in a towel to squeeze out the excess moisture, then lay it out flat to dry.

  • Avoid wearing out your yoga mat by using both sides. Flip it over from time to time to make sure one side doesn’t bear the brunt of all your sessions.

  • It’s best to store your yoga mat flat under a bed or sofa or gently rolled up in a closet or on a shelf. If you roll the mat too tightly, the material can stretch and bacteria may grow.

  • If you find pieces of mat on your yoga pants after a session, that means the mat is breaking down – and it’s time for a new one.

  • Recycle an old yoga mat by using it under your welcome mat or bath mat. The yoga mat can provide some extra traction to keep it from sliding around.

  • Don’t share your yoga mat with friends or family members. It’s a good way to spread germs that can lead to colds, coughs, fevers, and skin diseases.

  • Cotton or jute mats work well for layering over other yoga mats to provide added traction.

  • Foam and rubber yoga mats usually contain latex, so they’re not good mat material choices if you have a latex allergy.

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