Yoga is a full mind-body practice that improves both physical and mental wellness. If you’re just starting out, a great yoga mat can help you get the most out of your practice. The best beginner yoga mat provides good support and is comfortable no matter what style of yoga you practice.
If you want a durable mat that works for both at-home yoga and yoga on the go, the Manduka Begin Yoga Mat is a good choice.
Yoga mats come in a wide variety of styles, colors and sizes. The one you choose should reflect the type of practice you have and the support you need.
Yoga mats come in a variety of materials. These include PVC (polyvinyl chloride), rubber, PER (polymer environmental resin), foam, cotton, jute and cork.
PVC might be on the top of this list, but with some exceptions, it is not generally recommended for use in yoga. This material can have an intense chemical smell that gets stronger as the room heats up.
More environmentally friendly mats are on the list. These include cork, cotton, jute and PER. Some natural rubber and foam mats can be problematic for those with latex allergies, so choose your mat carefully.
Most yoga mats range in thickness from 1/16 inch to ¼ inch, with extra-thick mats measuring a whopping ½-inch thick.
A thick mat might seem like one of the best beginner yoga mats, but there are downsides. A mat that’s too thick makes standing poses more challenging. Thicker mats also tend to weigh more, which makes them hard to travel with.
Ultimately, the thickness of your mat depends on your style of yoga and what you are most comfortable practicing on.
Texture is an important consideration when you begin to define the style of yoga you’ll practice. Grippy mats with a sticky texture work best in vigorous yoga practices such as ashtanga and vinyasa. Prefer a slower, less sweaty practice? The texture of your mat can be smoother with less grip.
Stickier mats are made out of materials such as VC, foam and PER, while cotton and jute are smoother. Cork is a material that can be either sticky or smooth, depending on how it's manufactured.
Some beginner yoga mats come with an option for longer or wider styles. These are great for tall yogis or those who like to spread out on their mat. Keep in mind, though, that the extra width and length adds weight. These mats may not be great for travel.
If you do plan to take your mat on the go, look for mat bags and straps to make that easier. The best yoga mat bags have compartments for other props and personal items.
Some beginner yoga mats come with markers on the top of the mat that help you to properly place your hands and feet in tricky poses. While it’s always best to listen to what your body is telling you and to follow your own alignment, this can be a good introduction to proper yogic alignment.
The best beginner yoga mats come at an affordable price. Expect to spend $20-$60 for a solid mat.
A. Cleaning your yoga mat regularly is the best way to keep your yoga mat functioning properly. It also deters bacteria that can grow in a mat used in humid yoga studios. The manufacturer of your yoga mat will have specific instructions for cleaning.
In general, wipe your mat down after each use. Spray either a dedicated yoga mat cleaner or a mixture of white vinegar and water to saturate the mat. Wipe with a soft rag or paper towels and allow to dry before loosely rolling up the mat (or storing it flat).
At least two times a month, wash your mat thoroughly. Unless otherwise noted by the manufacturer, submerge the mat in hot water with a mild detergent. Allow it to soak, then rinse and dry completely before the next use (or storage).
A. Replace your yoga mat either when it shows signs of wear or your practice outgrows it. Signs of wear include:
You may outgrow your mat before your mat is worn. Your practice might change so you require more or less padding, or you might prefer a longer mat.
Whether it wears out from use or you decide to upgrade, you can recycle your old mat in a variety of ways. An older yoga mat works great to prevent your bath mat from sliding around, and you can use it in a similar way in the kitchen and just inside your front door. Old yoga mats are also great to take to the beach or to sit down on for a picnic in the park.
What you need to know: This is an entry-level mat from one of yoga’s most trusted mat brands.
What you’ll love: This 5 millimeter mat is a great middle ground mat — not too thick to travel with, but not too thin to offer good support at home. It’s made without chemicals or toxic solvents, which means you can breathe deeply.
What you should consider: This mat gets slippery when wet, so it’s not the best choice for hot yoga.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This extra-thick mat is perfect for beginner yogis who need to move slowly on aching joints.
What you’ll love: This mat is ½ inch of thick, high-density foam, offering superior protection but still allowing for stable standing poses. It features a grippy surface underneath to prevent sliding. It comes with a convenient carry strap and comes in eight color options.
What you should consider: This is too thick for fast-paced classes and gets slippery when wet.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: Spice up your practice with this lightweight, reversible yoga mat.
What you’ll love: This is a PVC mat that is free of the chemicals that make that material harmful, so breathe easy. It has a sticky, no-slip texture for extra grip. It comes with a free online class and is guaranteed for life. Choose from 30 reversible color patterns.
What you should consider: At just 68 inches long, this mat is shorter than some of the others.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.