Expert Tips on Choosing your Next Yoga Mat
This article may contain affiliate links. We collect a share of sales from qualifying purchases.
Why is it so challenging to choose a yoga mat? Do all yoga mats differ from one another that much? The answer is, yes. So, no need to sweat (until you are actually practicing yoga) because we’ve garnered information on a few amazing mats and why you would choose them.
What type of yoga mat is best for beginners?
As a beginner, it is important to choose a mat and love how it looks and feels. Choosing the wrong yoga mat is a sure way to feel uncomfortable during your yoga practice. The wrong mat may even deter you from practicing altogether.
Some yogis have an aversion to textured mats, in which case a smooth mat like Lululemon’s The Reversible Mat is ideal. This mat allows you to practice on both sides—virtually giving you two yoga mats for the price of one. One side is perfect for hot yoga because it’s anti-slip (to our best understanding these mats are not made from eco-friendly materials). The Reversible Mat comes in a 3mm and a 5mm thinness. Also, there is a Reversible (Big) Mat for taller folks.
Liforme mats also are excellent for beginners because of their unique alignment system (each mat has a grid pattern for hand and feet placement) and because of their sticky grip. These mats are also biodegradable and do not emit harmful chemicals.
Some like it hot, so a mat that keeps your hands and feet planted no matter how much you sweat is a godsend. If you typically partake in a heated practice, choose a mat that has a significant grip or invest in a mat towel to help prevent slippage throughout the class.
Yogitoes Manduka 2.0 Yoga Mat Towels feature gripping beads that affix your towel to your mat, so you don’t spontaneously flow from warrior two into a full split.
How to choose a yoga mat thickness
Yoga mats range in length and thickness. Mat thickness is generally a personal preference.
When choosing a yoga mat thickness consider:
- Support (do you need more cushion for your joints?)
- Endurance (are you vigorously gripping your mat, think: inversions/balancing poses)
- Materials (are you a person who loves texture?)
Foamy mats are thick, but they give way under pressure and provide little support in classes like Yin, where practitioners spend lots of time on their backs.
Thin yoga mats are light-weight and ideal for travel. Ultra-thin mats fit neatly into a suitcase and won’t throw your luggage over the TSA weight limit.
Be advised, though, most thin yoga mats won’t give you any padding if you practice on a wood floor or other hard surface, so if you prefer a bit of cushion, you’ll either want to roll your travel mat out on a rug or other soft surface, or consider getting a slightly thicker mat.
If you travel a lot, look to this light yet durable Jade Travel Yoga Mat. Yogis love Jade mats because of their eco-friendly composition. They are thinner, textured mats that are ideal for the yoga on-the-go.
Note: Avoid leaving your Jade mats in the trunk of your car as heat will change the composition of your mat— Atlanta, we are talking to you.
Make your next Yin class extra restorative with a dependable solution like an extra thick mat with firm but cushioned support like this Gaiam Premium 6mm Print Extra Thick Exercise & Fitness Mat for All Types of Yoga.
To get an expert opinion on mat thickness, we consulted Atlanta area Physical Therapist Dr. Juan Michelle Martin, PT, DPT of JMM Health Solutions. On top of her specialty in PT for women’s health, Dr. Martin is a certified mat pilates instructor and regularly uses yoga mats with her patients.
“If you have joint or back pain look for a mat 6mm thick or higher to prevent pressure from sinking into the floor,” says Martin. “Thicker mats provide additional support, but you’ll still want some semblance of firmness.”
She recommends an even thicker mat like this ⅖ inch thick Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat for yogis with orthopedic issues who need more cushion. She adds, “thicker mats are more comfortable when laying on the floor in supine poses.”
Read reviews before buying mats with a pillowy composition because you can tear thick, foamy mats in half during a challenging practice.
What is the best color for a yoga mat?
If you like a pop of color, choose a mat with some flare. Otherwise, colors may distract you. Also, colors fade in time. Only choose a colored mat if you want to commit to it, especially if that mat was a hefty investment.
Are expensive yoga mats worth it?
Most boutique yoga mats withstand the toughest of yoga practitioners. Higher priced mats made of high-density materials often offer enhanced durability, comfort, and support. They usually have antimicrobial elements that fight odors and help to prevent mold and mildew.
Yoga mats range in prices, which means that when you’re looking for your first yoga mat look beyond the price tag. Buy a yoga mat that complements the specific style of yoga you intend to practice. Look for durability, grip, and support when choosing a new yoga mat.
Choose a more expensive mat if you see yourself practicing three-to-five times a week. Cheaper mats are great in theory, but will not hold up with that amount of use.
Manduka mats are long-lasting and made with eco-friendly materials. The pro-light is light enough to drape across your back as you ride your bike to and from the yoga studio.
Certain Manduka mats (like Pro-Lights) are slippery for the first few uses. Many yogis use Pro-Light mats with a mat towel.
Choose the mat that is best suited for your practice. Consider a yoga mat that will complement your style (on and off the mat).