10 Best Yoga Mats Reviewed

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Though the practice of yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years, the “practice” of using yoga mats is pretty new by contrast. In its short lifespan, mats have surged in popularity and even necessity. To date, the options seem endless. With so much hype around finding the just-right mat for your very best Asana, we decided to break it down and provide the best mats according to the features that really matter. Whatever your yoga style, our top ten list has something perfect for you. We examined the best in comfort, stability, portability and body and eco-friendliness – the qualities that really matter. So relax, and get ready to say “OM-Yeah” to one of these great choices!

Last Updated: October 17, 2017
By Brian Price:

Along with some updates to the list, this buying guide has also been updated with a whole bunch of information that might be useful in your search.

Clever Yoga Mat
  • Clever Yoga Mat
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Quick dry
  • Price: See Here
Liforme Yoga Mat
  • Liforme Yoga Mat
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Great grip
  • Price: See Here
Balance From GoYoga Mat
  • Balance From GoYoga Mat
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Affordable
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Yoga Mats

 

1. Clever Yoga Mat

1. Clever Yoga Mat
Explore your limits with excellent grip on a body friendly, non toxic yoga mat. The LiquidBalance mat means a sweat-proof, comfortable experience. No-slip features keep you in tact, while eco-friendly materials keep the environment in tact, too! Don’t forget the stylish, on-trend carrying bag!
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Comfort, Stability and Portability

A natural rubber base keeps the ends of the mat from rolling and disturbing your flow. Soft to the touch cushioning feels great beneath you, while your joints enjoy superb, densely engineered thick padding. Never slide on this specially designed surface with great traction. Feel free to get sweaty without losing your grip. At 72.8” x 26.8” you’ll enjoy luxuriously long and wide comfort while still uber light for portability. Don’t forget the travel mat version, for road trips or as a topper. We love how easy it is to keep clean - thanks to antibacterial materials and a quick dry surface, the Clever Yoga mat is swiftly renewed with mild soap and water. Now that is clever!

Body and Eco Friendly Features

We love that this mat is comprised of sustainably harvested and processed natural tree rubber. Feel the eco-love with this 100% biodegradable wonder mat. And with no toxic chemicals, PVC or latex your yoga is a healthy practice for you in every way. Clean polyurethane for quick dry and heat-bound layers replace toxic glues or other chemicals.

Cost/Value

Higher end, but worth the investment. Comes with lifetime guarantee. Can easily be used for other exercise like core and ab work as well.
Pros
  • Extra wide, extra long
  • Non-toxic, eco-friendly material
  • Excellent padding and cushion
Cons
  • Expensive

2. Liforme Yoga Mat

2. Liforme Yoga Mat
The Lifeforme Yoga Mat boasts the one-of-a-kind “GripForMe” material which will match whatever moves you bring to your practice. Use the “intelligent makers” for guidance with all your positions - assisting form, ability and ultimately strength. All this and pretty too.

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Comfort, Stability and Portability

You can’t miss with the intelligent makers design embedded into the Lifeforme Yoga Mat. Feel your yoga asana practice truly come into alignment with this revolutionary mapping system. A guidance that keeps your body centered as you experience your best practice, you can’t help but feel your mind follow as the guesswork is removed and a total focus on movement and meditation becomes primary. Trademark “GripForMe” material promises a no-slip, ultra grip experience no matter how slippery or sweaty your practice. Couple these outstanding features with dense cushioning and stability and we’re certain we’ve got all your poses covered with this contender.


Body and Eco Friendly Features

At a mere 5 pounds, the Lifeforme Yoga mat is quite portable. Lightweight doesn’t translate to less material. At 72.8x26.8 users enjoy an extra long, extra wide long mat suitable for your Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow or Hatha practice - or any other type of yoga you love. Using a strong, eco friendly rubber base and additional cushioned felt means a sturdy yet comfortable support system which results in a very, very body friendly mat.

Cost/Value

High end price point but the unique design, navigation and cushion are best-quality.

Pros
  • Intelligent Markers system
  • GripForMe no slip engineering
Cons
  • Mapping system is not removable; some may prefer a mat without guidance.
  • High price

3. Square36 Large Yoga Mat

3. Square36 Large Yoga Mat
A yoga mat that does double duty as an exercise mat, fit for high intensity workouts? Yes, please! Highly durable material renders this mat indestructable - you'll love it for your asana or your hardcore workouts.
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Comfort, Stability and Portability

At double the size of a standard yoga mat, the Square36 measures 6x4 feet providing luxurious space for all of your moves. It also performs double duty as a workout mat for other types of exercise including Zumba and Piyo, with its well-designed, stable materials. In spite of its large size, the mat weighs a mere 7 pounds making it easy to transport from home gym to office, vacation or anywhere else you want to zen out or work out.

Body and Eco Friendly Features

Created with high grade, non toxic materials free of Silicone, Latex and Phthalates, feel confident that your practice is chemical free. The Square36 pairs well with other mats featured by the manufacturer. Coupling the Square36 with the S36 Cardio creates an excellent platform for home based workouts with a broader scope. Comfy cushioning and awesome grip keep your body well aligned and protected from rough surfaces.

Cost/Value

High price point.
Pros
  • Larger size is ideal for home gym and many types of exercises.
  • Non toxic, safe for hardcore practice
Cons
  • Mat will need to be used multiple times to achieve greater traction.

4. VIKUTA Yoga Mat

4. VIKUTA Yoga Mat
Perfect for any type of yoga, but ideal for hot yoga where some mats may falter. Patented materials mean the greater the moisture the greater the grip. So get Down(ward Dog), and get sweaty without the slippy!
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Comfort, Stability and Portability

A uniquely designed eco-polyurethane ultra slip resistant surface with additional wicking technology means that while your sweat rises, your slip's won’t. Feel confident in your poses with this uber grip material. Morning meditations are cozy and comfortable with excellent cushioning - long term this means healthier joints, too. Whether your style is Vinyasa, Bikram, Hot Yoga or something else, you’ll have enough comfy cushion and grip to explore your personal best. Transport simply with a lightweight of 7.7 pounds.

Body and Eco Friendly Features

A natural rubber base is a compliment to your workout, providing a healthy platform for all of your asanas. This deluxe, half inch yoga mat is created using open-cell natural rubber. Your body will love the way this non-toxic mat feels, and so will the environment considering there is zero ozone-depleting substances or PVC to cause a negative impact.

Cost/Value

Reasonably priced.

Pros
  • Open-cell natural rubber
  • Non toxic
  • Wicking technologies
Cons
  • No slip technology may feel a bit sticky.

5. Balance From GoYoga All-Purpose

5. Balance From GoYoga All-Purpose
The Balancefrom GoYoga All-Purpose mat is no shrinking violet to your warrior - pose, that is. With slip resistant materials on both sides, not only will you stand firm no matter your position, but this mat will, too, no matter the flooring beneath it. Add lots of foam cushion and wicking material and your mind and body are ready for an undistracted, safe practice!

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Comfort, Stability and Portability

Trademark technology offers a moisture free practice with wicking properties that you keep you feeling dry, and your body free from injuries caused by slippery falls. A half inch of extra thick material also works to keep users comfortable - and also less likely to experience hip and joint pain more often related to practices on less cushioned surfaces. All sizes and shapes will love the long and wide (71x24) dimensions of this mat, filled with a dense foam material that helps to absorb the shock of some poses. All of this with a 2 year warranty!

Body and Eco Friendly Features

Slip resistant dual sides make this a body friendly mat. Feel safe to freely explore your Treestand pose without concerns of your map slipping beneath you. We love the free strap for carrying ease, too!

Cost/Value

Excellent price
Pros
  • Ultra cushioned
  • Excellent wicking and slip resistance on both sides
Cons
  • Some toxic materials may be present.

6. Aurorae Classic Extra Thick

6. Aurorae Classic Extra Thick
For Yogis who like cushion without density, the Aurorae Classic is an excellent choice. Some prefer just enough thickness for joint protection while still accessing a floor grip for balance poses. Offered in a rainbow-range of colors, you’ll love the hues, too!

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Comfort, Stability and Portability

The Aurorae mat is 72x24” long, making it a suitable choice for all shapes and sizes. Take it anywhere and get sweaty: the mat is super lightweight and odorless! A perfect combination for any yogi who means business when they practice, and like to take their practice anywhere! Durable materials make it a nice selection for Pilates or aerobics, too. Don’t forget the free, non slip rosin. Nice bonus!

Body and Eco Friendly Features

We love the extensive testing these mats have undergone to ensure user safety. The are non toxic with no phthalates, phenols, PAHS, latex, silicone or rubber. Let your body feel the bliss and worry not about harmful chemicals interfering with your wellness! The Rising Moon Focal point icon lets users stay concentrated escalating a meaningful practice, and powerfully omitting distractions. With icons in illuminating colors, you’ll definitely find yours! Love the way you feel entirely during and after your practice on this fabulously friendly contender.

Cost/Value

Very reasonable pricepoint for a high quality mat
Pros
  • Many colors
  • Well tested for toxicities/safe
  • Focal Icon
Cons
  • Some may take issue with less cushion

7. Aurorae Synergy 2 in 1 Yoga Mat

7. Aurorae Synergy 2 in 1 Yoga Mat
It’s tough to find a better match for your high intensity, uber sweaty workouts. The Aurorae Synergy Yoga Mat-Towel intelligently fuses a lush microfiber towel for a slip free practice. Perfect for Hot Yoga, or fast flow routines like Kundalini kriyas, Vinyasa or Power yoga.
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Comfort, Stability and Portability

The need for additional towels has been eliminated with the creation of this patented yoga mat with towel. Beautifully stitched together, and offered in several calming hues, we love the aesthetic and the action this mat can endure. Odorless, lightweight and wait for it...Machine washable! If that doesn’t create a calming effect we aren’t sure what will! Add 5mm of luxurious cushion for joint protection and comfort and extra long and wide measurements for all shapes and sizes. Let the Bikram begin!

Body and Eco Friendly Features

Comprised of only natural, clean chemicals, the mat in no way hinders your journey to good health and wellness. Oeko-Tex tested and approved, no rubber, phthalates, latex or silicone. Because the mat is free of toxic product, you can feel confident that your health and the environment’s wellness are equally respected. Don’t forget Aurorae’s “Namaste” warranty, which lets customers return the mat if for any reason or at any time they desire to do so.


Cost/Value

Excellent price point for a dual package.
Pros
  • Attached, lux towel
  • Non-Slip
  • Odorless
Cons
  • Does not come with sling

8. Gaiam Print Yoga Mats

8. Gaiam Print Yoga Mats
Elephants, sundials, and lily shadows are just some of the bohemian aesthetics to jumpstart your state of yogi. We can’t stop thinking about the endless list of lovely mat styles and hues that Gaiam offers. We’re certain you’ll love them as much as we do!
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Comfort, Stability and Portability

We can’t stop bragging on the beautiful colors, patterns and design features that Gaiam has created. Yogis enjoy a healthy mind/body practice and there’s nothing like a luxurious mat to help inspire the moment. Relax into the comfortable, textured non-slip mat and worry not about mishaps during strenuous poses. With excellent traction, feel confident your mat will stay in place so that you can, too. So lightweight and tear resistant, you can take your artfully created mat anywhere, anyplace for yoga anytime. Bonus free yoga workout download? Yes, Please!

Body and Eco Friendly Features

Body friendly materials make up this well cushioned mat. And we love that it’s free of phthalates, DHEP, DBP, BBP, DRP, DINP, and DIDP which can all have harmful effects on you and your environment. Go downward dog and beyond and worry not about your health - or Mother Nature.

Cost/Value
Love the price point! Very reasonable.
Pros
  • Amazing designs
  • Excellent traction
Cons
  • Dimensions average, not a perfect match for every body

9. Five Four Ten Yoga Mat

9. Five Four Ten Yoga Mat
Eco-friendly with all natural fibers and biodegradable, the FiveforTen yoga mat is not only a wonderfully cushioned contender, but earth-friendly too!
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Comfort, Stability and Portability

Patented Power Grip technology creates a no-slip product to help you move the way you want to, without worry of slips or injuries. Both sides have traction, for dual support. Extra long and wide, move with vigor and confidence with plenty of room. And get your sweat on: the odorless rubber is also super absorbent! Choose from a bevy of colors and two different thicknesses. Easily transported because it's so light, too!

Patented Power Grip technology creates a no-slip product to help you move the way you want to, without worry of slips or injuries. Both sides have traction, for dual support. Extra long and wide, move with vigor and confidence with plenty of room. And get your sweat on: the odorless rubber is also super absorbent! Choose from a bevy of colors and two different thicknesses.

Cost/Value
Great price point!
Pros
  • 100% natural
  • A tree is planted with each purchase
  • Lots of hues
Cons
  • Power Grip may be challenging to get used to because of its "stick".

10. Reehut NBR Exercise Yoga Mat

10. Reehut NBR Exercise Yoga Mat
The Reehut yoga mat is your perfect companion for rigorous workouts! Love that is comes with its own carrying strap so you can practice your yoga on the go! With excellent features that let you sweat without slip, push yourself while your tear-resistant mat stays all the while in tact. Namaste!
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Comfort, Stability and Portability

Relax or work hard on your Reehut yoga mat. With a ½” of comfy cushion comprised of NBR materials, you’ll love the way your colorful mat responds to your body. Worry less about joint or hip injury, and enjoy the benefits of poses on posh materials. The texture provides excellent grip on many surfaces, so take your practice out of the house, into the hills or wherever your heart desires. And with the included sling, portability of this lightweight wonder just got even easier!

Body and Eco Friendly Features

Eco friendly, comprised of non-toxic chemicals, you’ll feel healthy and well spending time on the Reehut yoga mat. Tear resistant and high grip materials are accessible without environmental harm. This extra long and wide mat is your perfect companion for yoga, Pilates or picnics. We love that it’s so versatile and boasts excellent patented powerhouse gripping without chemicals. Feeling the Zen of that great combination!

Cost/Value
Incredibly well priced.
Pros
  • Tear resistant
  • Fabulous hues
  • Extra cushion
Cons
  • Some may prefer less cushion

Choosing the right yoga mat for you may seem like a challenge, especially if you are a fairly new yogi and have not yet experimented with what your personal preferences are for a yoga mat, as well as your particular yoga practice. In fact, different forms and practices of yoga will require different features in a yoga mat, based on how easy or difficult, simple or complex the poses of the practice are. Luckily, no matter which you yoga form you choose to dive into, we have a list of yoga mats that run a wide range of comforts, stability, and practicality, all while being the best in their particular area and for a price that will not make you cringe. Below is a list of the specific criteria that gave us metrics we used to measure which yoga mats were the best on the market, as well as other important factors you should consider before purchasing a yoga mat and general yoga and yoga mat FAQs.

Criteria

  1.  Comfort

When thinking about which yoga mat is best for you, seeking one that is comfortable for your individual needs is a good place to start. Several individual components factor into a mat’s comfort, and we are diving into them all! The first thing to consider is the mat’s thickness. You can find a lot of different thicknesses in yoga mats today. Some are so thin that they do not even feel like you are standing, kneeling, or posing on anything. They are basically just a floor covering. For most yogis, this does not quite offer enough support. With the exception of a few hardcore yogis and those who have been practicing for years and are known to pull out a yoga pose no matter where they are or what surface they are working with, most people need some thickness to cushion their movements. However, a mat that is too thick will also be difficult to pose and hold poses on because it will be overly cushioned.

Too much cushioning will have too much “give,” and be too soft for most people. (The exception for this might be the people who are seeking an overly soft mat because they want the added challenge of engaging their muscles to hold the poses in a dramatic way.) For the general population, a yoga mat somewhere in the middle will be best, and most mats are sold in this middle range in one of three levels of thickness. These levels are one fourth of an inch thick, one eighth of an inch thick, and one sixteenth of an inch thick. Mats that are one fourth of an inch thick are usually a bit more expensive, and are the higher end, premium mats on the market. They will offer some support, but plenty of cushioning and depending on your preferences, might be the most comfortable option for you.

However, the added thickness makes them harder to roll up and harder to transport easily. Mats that measure one eighth of an inch are actually the most widely sold mats because they still offer a decent amount of cushioning and comfort but also are sturdy and supportive enough that they really help the yogi hold difficult poses without too much exaggerated effort. Plus, they are easier to roll up and easier to transport. Mats that measure one sixteenth of an inch are getting dangerously close to providing not much comfort at all, and have been known to be especially painful for individuals who have knee problems and are practicing yoga on wood, concrete, or hard floors. That being said though, some people prefer them because it DOES allow them to feel the floor better. It gives them a sturdier base and helps them understand how to balance and disperse their weight better when they are trying out particularly complex poses. These mats also fit snugly in virtually any space, and are easy to take along with you if you have to travel or walk a ways to get to your yoga studio or place of practice.

The right texture of your yoga mat can really make or break a good yoga session. Texture is what determines traction, and level of traction is what determines how close you come to sustaining your poses or eating it in front of everyone around you. It helps you maintain your balance and proper pose alignment, which helps you avoid injury. Texture refers to the specific physical feeling of your yoga mat, and how much traction or grip it provides. Often times, yoga mats that contain grooves, bumps, or physical textures that improve your foot or hand’s ability to literally “grab on” to it will help ultimately be a better texture for you to sustain poses on. Most raised textured mats are made out of cotton or rubber, so if grip is a large concern of yours, avoid mats from other materials.

Raised textures are typically either a natural component of the material used or man made and added features to the mat. Similar to texture is a mat’s level of stickiness, and an important factor that we considered. Stickiness can be used interchangeably, at least in this case, with “suction cup ability”. So we are not talking about an icky, gooey feeling but more about how well your body and skin stick to the mat. Stickiness is critical for helping you hit those extra tough poses. It provides you with additional support, and helps your body have a better feel for the mat and the floor, which provides you with better balance and support. Some mats lose their stickiness over time, especially when dirt and grime start to build up so be sure to clean your mat often and take good care of it to maintain the mat’s sticky integrity.

Yoga mats are made using a variety of materials. The most common materials that you will find yoga mats sold in are those made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride, or a popularly and widespread sold plastic polymer and otherwise commonly known simply as just vinyl), rubber, cotton, foam, and jute. Mats made out of PVC tend to have the smoothest texture, and the least amount of physical ‘gripiness’ but are definitely still sticky. Still, some yogis may find that they have to work harder to maintain balance, alignment, and support. But mats made out of PVC are typically cheaper, last way longer and are easier to clean and take care of (the main downside and complaints from consumers about PVC is that they are not biodegradable or made using sustainable efforts).

If you like the PVC mats for all reasons except their lack of environmental friendliness, then a foam mat is the way to go. Performance wise, they are very close to PVC mats in the way of how much stickiness they offer, though foam mats can also feel way more cushioning when you get into thicker thicknesses (so if you do not want a lot of cushion but want a foam mat, go with a thinner thickness measurement). Be careful if you have a latex allergy though! Foam mats will make your allergies flare up. As far as grip, stickiness, texture, and eco friendliness are concerned, rubber made mats fare very similarly to foam mats (and the same holds true, unfortunately, for setting off any latex allergies).

The only real difference you will see between the two, is that foam mats tend to offer a little more cushioning, and thus, a little more “give,” especially in the thicker mats. If you want to take a step back in time and practice yoga like some of the originals, opt for a cotton mat. Cotton mats tend to be thin and are usually put on top of other mats. They also do not wick sweat super well but they ARE easy to clean, easy to transport, and definitely environmentally friendly. Finally, jute mats are very similar to cotton mats: they usually measure very thin, fold up nicely into your gym bag, and offer great traction (especially when lain on top of other mats) but the jute root is a more fibrous texture than cotton and, subsequently, will offer even more stickiness than cotton

  1. Stability

Stability of a yoga mat is all about how well the mat can grip the floor, and the real stability test comes when you are sweating or the air is humid and you are attempting some seriously challenging poses. In the middle of a hot yoga head stand, the last thing you want is for your mat to lose its traction and support and send you tumbling over. Levels of stability will differ depending on the material and texture of the mat, because these are the two factors that play the biggest role in determining a mat’s grip and stickiness. Furthermore, the thinner the mat the more stable it will be.

For the most part, thicker mats, though they offer more comfort, are going to have so much cushion that they make it harder to balance and thus you are made less stable. Stability is an important factor to consider, especially when you take into account where exactly you will be practicing your yoga. Sometimes, the dark stuffiness of a yoga studio or gym exercise room just is not going to cut it, and you feel the need to take your practice outside. Outdoor yoga sessions can be wonderful, but also less stable depending on the terrain you choose. The ground might be rocky or uneven, and you might even want to practice on a hillside or incline. If that sounds like you, then one of the grippier, stickier mats that provide more support will be what you need.

  1. Portability

Portability is all about transportability, and how easy it is to quickly roll up the mat, stuff it in your bag, over your head, or under your arm, and hit the road. This is especially important for the yogis who have a packed schedule and have to jump immediately from event to event without being able to go home in between. The thinnest measurement of thickness (one sixteenth of an inch) will be the easiest to roll up, the easiest to carry, and the easiest to stow away.

Mats of this thickness have their downsides when it comes to cushioning, comfort, grip, and support but they are definitely the easiest to transport so if that is your number one concern, go with an easy to pack mat! The thicker the mat, the less easy they are to transport. Similarly, extra long yoga mats are going to be less portable than shorter ones because there will be more mat to physically roll up, which will mean a bulkier mat to stuff away in your bag or to carry. (But, of course, if you are super tall and you absolutely just NEED  a long yoga mat, you will likely have to sacrifice some transportability in this case). An added bonus of many of the mats on our list is that they are actually conveniently sold with a carrying bag to go with them.

  1. Body and Eco Friendly Features

If you are practicing yoga, whether it is because you are a long time, hard core yogi skilled in the exercise’s many different forms or because you need a classroom atmosphere and someone leading you through the poses in order to get a good post run stretch and work out some of your achy joints and muscles, you likely care about the well being of your body, the well being of others, and the well being of the earth and environment. If you value sustainability and eco friendliness, then taking up the sport of yoga should not mean you have to sacrifice your values!

Fortunately, our list of yoga mats offer some great products that are made from both body and eco friendly materials. It is helpful to know which materials are known to be more sustainably produced than others. As a general rule of thumb, mats made from PVC vinyl will have the most “harmful” substances in regards to the environment, and are the least sustainably made mats. That is because PVC is not biodegradable so will sit in a landfill for a VERY long time, and can be very expensive to recycle. However, mats made out of recycled rubber and jute most similarly match PVC mats in affordability and grip, texture, stickiness, and support but are much more eco friendly options. Cotton is also an eco friendly material.

  1. Value

When it comes to price, you can basically find yoga mats at ANY price point. From super cheap mats that you can pick up at any old retail store to very high end, very expensive mats from some of the best known manufacturers and private yoga studios around the world, there is bound to be a yoga mat that fits your budget. Our list takes into consideration price, and we have strayed away from offering you the super, super cheap options that are just not worth your money at all, but have provided you with relatively well-priced options that are more than just a bargain, but that hold their own against other more expensive brands in terms of performance. As far as actual price is concerned, the mats on our list range from $15 all the way up to $200. That might seem like a lot, but do not just immediately write off the more expensive mats!

They tend to come equipped with added features that really provide a lot of additional value. Some of the mats on our list come in unique and special sizing. A standard mat is typically 24 inches by 68 inches, but some of the higher end mats on our list are sold with specialty sizing- there are mats that come in large squares (specifically, the Square 36 Large Yoga mat) which make it easier to get flexible in a 360 degree range of motion much easier, as well as mats that come in extra long lengths for those of us who are particularly tall. There are also mats that are designed to assist you in pose placement, such as the Liforme Yoga Mat on our list. Essentially, the Liforme mat serves as a kind of diagram that will help you with placement and alignment so that you can really strengthen your practice.

Other features that add serious value to yoga mats are the variety of colors and patterns that they are sold in, how easy or difficult they are to roll up and carry along with you in between activities, if they come already equipped with a carrying strap or bag, how heavy they are, and any other specialty features. One of the  mats on our list, the Aurorae Synergy 2 in 1 Yoga Mat serves as both a yoga mat and a towel for those really intense yoga sessions (and is a great option if hot yoga is your exercise of choice!). Everyone has specific and different things that they need to get out of their yoga mat, as well as differing price points and budgets. No matter what though, we feel confident you will find a great one from our list to suit your needs.

 

Other Important Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Yoga Mat

1. Are you allergic to latex, cotton, rubber, or certain materials that yoga mats tend to be made from?

If you have a latex allergy, then you will likely develop an allergic reaction if you practice on a mat made out of PVC or rubber. Some practitioners who are allergic to leather claim they break out in hives and have trouble breathing (that is not related to just exercise-induced heavy breathing!) when they use rubber or PVC mats. If you are allergic to latex, play it safe and opt for mats made out of cotton (wool is another great choice if you practice a more meditative form of yoga, but wool mats don’t hold up well in super sweaty yoga sessions).

  1. What are some other uses for a yoga mat?

Purchasing a yoga mat may be a wise decision even if you are not particularly interested in yoga itself, because the mats are highly versatile and can be used in a number of ways and for many other forms of exercise. If you are looking for something to support and cushion your more intense, circuit cardio sessions, then a yoga mat is a great option. It can be used to assist in such heart-pumping exercises as mountain climbers, push ups, planks and other exercises that have your hands on the floor, as well as lower body workouts like squats and lunges. Yoga mats are also used commonly in Barre classes, especially when you take the Barre class to the comfort of your home. Plie squats and movements on your tip toes can be hard to do on the surface of a bare floor alone, but doing them atop a yoga mat will help add some stickiness and grip. If you are looking to get a great ab workout and blast your core with sit ups, crunches, v-ups, or side planks, make sure you have a yoga mat for support and stability! And finally, you will benefit by having a yoga mat to practice other Eastern exercises similar to yoga, like tai chi and pilates

  1. Are you planning or needing to go straight to other activities after yoga?

If you practice yoga exclusively in your home, or just never go anywhere after your yoga class at the studio (or if you drive everywhere and have the convenience of just throwing your yoga mat in the back seat or trunk), then portability might not be as much of a concern for you. However, if you tend to run errands after yoga, attend other events or activities, or if you ride your bike or take public transit to get to and from class, then having a yoga mat that comes with a strap and/or a bag, or one that is slim enough that it rolls up easily and fits into your tote or backpack, becomes somewhat of a necessity.

  1. What kind of yoga are you practicing?

Certain forms of yoga need different yoga mats. For instance, if you are into hot yoga, then you know that you often leave the studio feeling great, but also super sweaty. In order to maintain the integrity of your yoga mat, you are going to need one that wicks moisture well (so, in other words, definitely not a cotton-made mat!). A bonus would be that it comes with a towel! It should also be made out of a material that is easy to clean, and stands up to water, sweat, and moisture.

Hot yoga (or bikram yoga) is a more intense practice, as are other western yoga practices that emphasize strength and the workout over the traditional Eastern yoga that encompasses more calming, meditative yoga forms, then you will need a mat that works in tandem with helping you build strength and hit your poses. The yoga forms in which time between poses is smoother, longer, and more relaxed and which focus on breathing and centering will still require mats that assist your poses and have the right stickiness levels for such poses, but you also might benefit from a thicker mat with more cushioning.

  1. Are you a beginner or a seasoned yogi veteran?

If you are just starting out with your yoga practice, choosing a mat may seem overwhelming. We suggest you keep it simple if you are a newbie – don’t spend too much and get a mat that is super supportive. If you are more experienced in your yoga practice, you will better understand how different features of yoga mats will negatively or positively affect your practice, and it is probably worth it to invest in a great mat.

 

General FAQs About Yoga and Yoga Mats

1. What is yoga?

This may seem like an obvious one, and you likely already know the answer if you are searching for yoga mats, but if you don’t, then it is a good place to start! The more you understand about the practice of yoga, the better you will be able to deduce which yoga mat is right for you! Simply put, yoga is a type of unitive exercise discipline that, in its true form, emphasizes not only poses and postures, but thoughts, breathing, meditation, and relief from self. It is the emphasis on poses and postures that make it an “exercise” but yoga encapsulates so much more than just that. There are actually hundreds of forms of yoga to choose from, but the most popular ones include vinyasa yoga, hatha yoga, bikram yoga, yin yoga, ashtanga yoga, and restorative yoga.

Vinyasa yoga is the classic “workout yoga” because the time between poses doesn’t last long and movements are synchronized with breathing, and often put against more upbeat music (if you are practicing in a class). Hatha yoga focuses on balance – and not just physical upright balance, but finding balance between movements. “Ha” translates to sun and “tha” translates to moon, and similarly to the balanced juxtaposition of the sun and the moon, hatha yoga practitioners work to find the balance between forceful movements and flowing energy. Ultimately, the focus of hatha is on asanas, or postures, and to strengthen and find proper alignment, but also be slightly more meditative than vinyasa. Bikram yoga takes the swiftness of vinyasa yoga, but limits the total number of poses to 26, and puts it in a heated room.

This means a higher heart rate, and more sweat (so if you are interested in more of a calorie torching practice that still helps release the mind, this is the style for you). Yin yoga is similar to restorative yoga – it is a lost slower than other forms, with more time between poses and an added concentration on breathing (often performed in seated or lying positions). Ashtanga yoga is a great option for both beginners and for experienced yogis because it uses just six positions in repetition. Each position is connected to the others through breathing, but ashtanga focuses on perfecting the poses until they are near perfect. FInally, restorative yoga is the perfect option for those who are really looking to take it slow, wind down and ease the mind, and get a decent stretch and energy flow throughout the bodies. This is a great option for runners, especially, who need the calming but fluid benefits of yoga

  1. What are the eight limbs of yoga?

Yoga is about more than just stretching, posing, and balancing. It is rooted in eight “limbs” which encompass the entirety of the practice. These eight limbs are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Yama refers to one’s ethical and moral standards. It refers to the basic rules and principles which we personally choose to live by. Specifically, the five yamas are nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, continence, and noncovetousness. Niyama refers to self-discipline, and the order with which we surround ourselves. The five niyamas are cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, studying sacred scripture, and surrendering to a higher being. Asanas are the physical components of yoga – the poses, the body, etc. It is what we typically think of when we think of “yoga” from an exercise perspective. Pranayama refers to breathing, and specifically, controlling one’s breathing.

Pratyahara refers to internalizing our practice, meditating, and drawing inward away from the world. Dharana refers to concentration, which is closely associated with the other limbs of pranayama, asana, and pratyahara. Dhyana takes the principles of pratyahara such as meditation and concentration, and puts them into the context of an uninterrupted flow of relaxing energy. Finally, samadhi refers to joy, ecstasy, and total aliveness that comes with being properly aligned, fully engaged but completely meditative and at peace, which one can achieve over time through repeated yoga practice.

  1. What are “asanas”?

We explained above that asanas are one of the eight limbs of yoga, and the aspect of a yoga practice that you probably most commonly think of when you think about yoga. Asanas refer to the actual bodily poses involved in yoga. They are more than just stretching or strength building exercises, but are purposeful in centering and aligning the body, and creating a meditative flow of energy between the body, mind and spirit. They can be relaxing but still difficult, and increase flexibility, strength, and stimulation to the circulatory and immune systems. Different forms of yoga are centered around different asanas, but some commonly known asanas are the headstand, the cobra, the downward facing dog, and the warrior pose.

  1. What is the price of the yoga mats on this list?

Yoga mats are one of those exercise tools that might come with a bit of “sticker shock”. Most people know that, if they want to purchase a quality pair of running shoes or athletic attire, they will probably pay over $100 in most cases. But when you think of a thin rectangular piece of rubber, you generally do not expect it to cost you almost $200. However, some of the better mats on our list will run you $150-$200. But you are definitely paying for quality, and that’s a good thing! THese mats have superior integrity, and will last you for years while staying in tip top shape. If you are a serious yogi, or looking to really take your practice to the next level, investing in a more expensive but quality mat is definitely worth it. (But if you just cannot swing that kind of price tag, there are plenty of great options that run closer to $20 to $50.)

  1. How easy is it to clean a yoga mat?

One of the great things about yoga mats, especially well-made ones, is how easy they are to clean and maintain. As far as washing your yoga mat is concerned, there are several options for you to choose from. The first is simply dousing it with soap and water. This can basically be any soap (though a detergent soap will clean it best) but be careful not to use too much, or risk leaving an oily coating atop your mat. Four parts water to one parts soap should do the trick! There are also special mat-sanitizing solutions that you can choose from, but some of these solutions, while they will definitely rid your mat of all bacteria, use harsh chemicals and the residue left behind might be harsh on your skin.

You can always make your own at-home solutions, as well. A great option is a simple water and baking soda mixture, or mixing essential oils and water. Finally, some yoga mats (especially those made from cotton) can be thrown in the washing machine along with your other dirty clothes. Just be sure to use a gentle cycle and definitely avoid the dryer! When it is done, roll it up, squeeze out the excess water, and then let it air dry. (Avoid drying in direct heat – some mats will actually get holes in them if they get too hot for too long, and that includes if they are left in the back of a car trunk on a very hot summer day.)


 

A few of our sources:

Sources

  1. Christine Yu, Yoga for Beginners: Your Guide to Every Type of Yoga Out There, Daily Burn Blog Article, Sep 16, 2017
  2. Mara Carrico, Get To Know the Eight Limbs of Yoga, Yoga Journal Blog Article, Aug 28, 2007
  3. Cyndi Lee, Yoga 101: A Beginner's Guide to Practice, Meditation, and the Sutras, Yoga Journal Blog Article, Oct 07, 2014
  4. Kyle Michaud, Which Type of Yoga is Right for You?, LiveStrong Blog Article, Sep 11, 2017
  5. Health Fitness Revolution, 10 Home Exercises You Can Do with Just a Yoga Mat, Health Fitness Revolution Blog, Sep 16, 2016
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