10 Best Yoga Mats to Elevate Your Yoga Practice – Sports Illustrated

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You may not be thinking about it in the heat of your next Vinyasa flow, but your body will thank you nonetheless for investing in a top-tier yoga mat. The challenge, of course, is identifying the best yoga mat for your needs so you can elevate your yoga practice.

We researched and reviewed some of the best yoga mats on the market and put together this comprehensive guide to help you make the right choice.

During our research, we also focused on a few important factors, such as how and when you plan to use your mat, the mat size and the best mat materials. Some yogis plan to take their mat on the go with them and want something travel-friendly, while others may just be starting out and not looking to make a huge investment. Rest assured, there are options for everyone. Which mat will work best for you?

Here are our picks for the 10 best yoga mats on the market today:

Lululemon The Reversible yoga mat

This versatile mat works well for just about any type of yoga class, making it our “Best Overall” pick. The reversible design sets this mat apart from the others, offering both a smooth and grippy side. The smooth side is made with a sticky, polyurethane layer and the grippy side is made with natural rubber. This double-sided feature means you can switch it up depending on what type of class you’re attending. For example, we suggest using the grippy side for a more sweaty class such as hot yoga. With just the right amount of springiness, this mat can support your body through difficult poses, an attractive feature if you have sensitive knees and joints. Additionally, the antimicrobial coating helps keep your mat free from bacteria.

Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm ($98; lululemon.com)

Manduka Pro Yoga Mat

The Manduka Pro yoga mat is designed with density to offer support and stability. This mat is 6mm thick and has a grippy, dot design on the bottom side to help keep it in place when in use. This mat works with a closed-cell design to seal out moisture and prevent bacteria from growing. This mat might feel slippery at first and it takes time to break in, so the more you use it, the stickier it will become. This mat is also designed with sustainability in mind; it benefits from a process that prevents toxic chemicals from being emitted into the atmosphere and it is certified free from harmful chemicals.

Manduka Pro Yoga Mat ($129; amazon.com)

Alo Yoga Warrior Mat

If you’re using the Alo Yoga Warrior Mat, you won’t have to worry about slipping during your next hot yoga class. The moisture-wicking material is slip-free even when wet, helping to keep you in place during the sweatiest of yoga sessions. This mat is designed to last with anti-odor material that is durable and non-toxic. With 10 different color options and a matte finish, this mat is an ideal blend of aesthetically pleasing and functional. The 5mm thickness offers support and durability. This mat weighs roughly 8 pounds, so it is ideal for everyday usage but may not be the most convenient option if you plan to travel. The ethically sourced materials that this mat is made from are free from PVC and formaldehyde, making it a safe and non-toxic option.

Alo Yoga Warrior Mat ($100; aloyoga.com)

Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat

The Manduka eKO Lite Yoga mat offers a biodegradable design and a unique selection of color and pattern options. This mat is eye-catching, and the naturally grippy surface is made from ethically sourced, biodegradable materials—so you won’t have to worry about your mat taking up valuable space in the landfill once you’re done with it. With a slightly lighter weight than average, this 5-pound mat is travel-friendly and ideal if you’re walking to a yoga class and don’t want to be weighed down by a heavy mat. The ethically sourced tree rubber that makes up this mat provides a strong grip to prevent slipping, making it usable for any class level. 

Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat ($80; amazon.com)

Gaiam 2-color yoga mats

If you’re looking for a low-commitment yoga mat, the Gaiam two-color yoga mats are for you. It’s at an affordable price point but also has all of the necessary features, so this mat is a solid choice if you’re a newbie or you need a quick and cost-effective way to replace a mat. This mat is made from non-toxic material and it’s free of latex. You can choose which color you’d like your mat to be with each new yoga class thanks to the reversible design. The material is lightweight yet durable and made to offer stability with a no-slip design. With a 4mm of thickness, this mat offers stability and comfort—a quality combination. Some reviewers, however, report that this yoga mat began to break down after a couple of months and didn’t retain its stickiness as well as pricier models. Consider investing in a more expensive option if durability is at the top of your list.

Gaiam 2-color yoga mats ($29; gaiam.com)

SugaMat Recycled Wetsuit Yoga Mat

This 5mm yoga mat is the only one you’ll find that’s made entirely from recycled wetsuits. The eco-friendly design sets this mat apart, given that it is made in the United States and the only material used comes from old wetsuits. Although you will find a variety of other yoga mats on the market that have sustainability in mind, this is the only one entirely recycled from other materials. The design of this yoga mat doesn’t just benefit the planet. It also benefits those who require a strong grip and suitable thickness (5mm) for knee and joint support. This mat only weighs about 5 pounds, which makes it lightweight and travel friendly. Plus, the foam has a closed-cell design that keeps bacteria and moisture blocked out.

SugaMat Recycled Wetsuit Yoga Mat ($89; amazon.com)

JadeYoga Voyager

This super-lightweight yoga mat is perfect for travel. Just one-sixteenth of an inch thick and made of flexible material, this mat can fold to the size of a yoga block to fit easily into any suitcase or carry-on bag. Even with such a lightweight and thin design, the quality of this mat is superior. A durable material and strong grip make this mat practical for daily usage. If you fold this mat frequently, it may begin to crease just as clothes do when kept in a suitcase. So, it is recommended that you keep this mat rolled when not traveling to minimize creasing. The JadeYoga Voyager is free from PVC, EVA or synthetic rubber. With a sustainable mission, JadeYoga will plant a tree for every mat sold, so you can purchase this mat knowing you’ve done the planet a favor.

JadeYoga Voyager ($42; amazon.com)

The JadeYoga Harmony mat makes the perfect everyday yoga mat. This mat weighs about 5 pounds and measures roughly 4mm thick. With plenty of traction and cushion, this mat will stay in place during sweaty yoga sessions and offers support for those who have sensitive knees and joints. A variety of color and length options make this mat versatile and useful for anyone. The color options are subtle yet attractive and serve more than aesthetic purposes. JadeYoga donates a portion of its proceeds to charities based on the color of the mat purchased. Their site says, “$5 will be donated to ovarian cancer charities for every Teal mat purchased, $5 from each Saffron mat will be donated to Autism causes and $5 will be donated to breast cancer charities for every pink mat purchased.”

JadeYoga Harmony Mat ($79; amazon.com)

Gurus Cork Yoga Mat

This sustainable and recyclable mat is made from 100% plant-based cork, offering a thick and spacious yoga mat. The cork material has a unique and natural appearance, and with two different materials, this mat offers both versatility and comfort.

The cork side is waterproof and antimicrobial, while the other side is made from natural rubber and offers additional grip and an open-cell design. This sustainable yoga mat brand gives back to the planet by planting trees for every mat sold.

You can even ensure that your old mat is disposed of in a sustainable way, at no cost to you, by sending it back for free once you’re finished using it. Gurus Cork yoga mat comes at a slightly higher price point, but it offers sustainability without compromising comfort.

Gurus Cork Yoga Mat ($49; amazon.com)

CAMBIVO Yoga Mat

This extra-large workout mat is ideal for anyone who needs a lot of workout space (at 72 inches by 48 inches, it’s larger than average). If you have a large open space to lay your mat or want to have space for multiple people to work out at once, then this mat is for you.

Made from durable, tear-resistant material, this mat is ideal for everyday use and can be used for more than just yoga. Lay this mat down for at-home workouts or as a playmat for children. With an 8 mm thickness, this mat offers great shock-absorbance for exercise and yoga. The slip-free design also makes this mat easy to use and safe for intense and sweaty workouts.

CAMBIVO Yoga Mat ($55; amazon.com)

Why buy a yoga mat?

While virtually anyone can benefit from adding yoga into their day-to-day routine, a yoga mat is a worthwhile investment for even those who don’t practice yoga. Regular yoga practice can help increase flexibility, improve energy and improve mental health, strength and athletic performance.

You can make yoga your main form of exercise, or you can practice yoga as a cross-training method to complement other sports such as long-distance running. Some people incorporate slower, easier types of yoga to help stretch their tired muscles and calm the mind. But if you’re looking for a challenge, rest assured there are yoga classes that range across the full spectrum of difficulty.

Even if you don’t practice yoga regularly, you may be glad to have a yoga mat in your closet that you can roll out when you’d like to do some stretching or simple at-home exercise. Having a soft foundation beneath you can make stretching and exercise more comfortable and it can provide a clean area for you to work out, rather than having to be on the floor.

What to look for in a yoga mat

Yoga mats are a great item for anyone to own, whether you’re an avid yogi or want a soft foundation to roll out for your daily at-home workouts. Since there are so many different yoga mat options, it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out which one will work best for you.

When it comes time to select the best yoga mat to suit your needs, it is helpful first to consider how you plan to use your yoga mat. In comparing different mats, we’ve figured out that some of the best factors to consider are the material of the mat, portability, sustainability, size and price.

Use

There are many different ways to use a yoga mat, so this is a practical item for just about anyone to own. If you’re planning to attend some advanced yoga classes, you may be more willing to spend a little extra on a mat to ensure your mat has certain features. However, if you’re purchasing your first mat to use at home or during beginner-level yoga classes, you may not be as worried about fancy features and might instead want one that is more budget-friendly.

Home fitness

A yoga mat for home fitness doesn’t necessarily need any fancy features. If you only want to use your mat to work out at home, you could easily choose a lower-budget option. Look for something that’s durable, supportive and comes in a color you like. If you need a lot of space to work out, you’ll want to pay close attention to the size of the mat you’re purchasing. Also, if you have hard floors, you might want a thicker mat, whereas you can likely opt for a thinner option if you have soft, carpeted floors.

Yoga classes

There are all different kinds of yoga classes, from beginner level to advanced, Vinyasa to Ashtanga. If you aren’t sure what types of yoga classes you plan to attend or if you plan to attend a variety of different classes, look for a versatile mat. If you know you’re going to be sweating a lot (i.e., if you like to do hot yoga), then definitely look for a mat that has anti-slip features and offers some grip. If your main yoga practice involves doing many inversions, you may want to opt for a thicker mat to give additional support.

Outdoors

If you plan to use your yoga mat outside, you’ll want to look for something made from a durable material. The most versatile material is PVC; however, this material isn’t biodegradable, so most sustainable and non-toxic mats are made PVC-free. Once you’ve invested in a nice, expensive yoga mat, you should be careful with using it outside not to damage the material. Lay a towel down to act as a barrier between the ground and your yoga mat to prevent any damage from occurring. Try to use your mat on softer areas such as grass or sand.

Materials

From sustainable sources of tree-rubber to recycled wetsuits, you can find a yoga mat made from just about any material these days. When selecting the best material, consider your personal needs and their impact on the planet. Some mats are made latex-free for anyone who suffers from a latex allergy, while others are made from recycled materials to prevent having a negative impact on the planet.

Cushioning

Yoga mat thicknesses can vary from 1mm to 8mm. You may want to opt for a thinner yoga mat if you plan to travel with your mat or have minimal storage space. Thicker yoga mats offer additional support for anyone who has sensitive knees and joints. If you plan to use your mat to work out and do yoga, you may want to choose a thicker mat so you can have shock absorbance when doing intense workouts.

Portability

Travel-friendly yoga mats come in a lightweight, thinner design. If you live in a walkable area and plan to walk to your yoga classes, you’ll want to look for a travel-friendly yoga mat. Some yoga mats can even be taken on longer voyages and come small enough to be folded and placed into a suitcase. Look for a lightweight yoga mat if you want to easily take your yoga practice just about anywhere. Some yogis have found that travel-friendly mats work well for day-to-day usage. Owning a travel-friendly yoga mat as your everyday mat is also versatile since you only have to own a single mat that can work for various purposes.

Eco-friendliness

Most consumers are worried about their carbon footprint these days. Luckily, there are a lot of different yoga mats that offer eco-friendly features. Look for a yoga mat made from sustainable materials using ethical production standards. Sustainable yoga mat companies will be open about their production standards and materials, so always look for transparency when shopping for a yoga mat. The Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat uses rubber that’s sourced from non-Amazon trees to prevent deforestation in certain parts of the world, while the SugaMat Recycled Wetsuit Mat is made in a closed-loop recycled manner that ensures the repurposing of fully used materials.

Size

When determining what size yoga mat you’re looking for, consider your body size first. If you are taller, you’ll want to opt for a longer design. Ideally, you want your yoga mat to be about 6 inches longer than your height. Also, pay attention to the thickness and weight of your mat when considering the size. You’ll want a lighter-weight mat if you plan to travel or walk long distances with your mat.

Price

To pin down a feasible price point for your mat, start by asking yourself how committed you are to your yoga practice. If you’re just starting and unsure how often you’ll be attending yoga classes, opt for something budget-friendly. More experienced yogis will likely appreciate the features of a more expensive mat and benefit more from investing in one of the higher-end options.

Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.

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