What to look for in a yoga mat

A quality yoga mat is the most essential piece of equipment, next to your breath, that you need to build a consistent and safe yoga practice. However, with so many types of mats on the market, it can feel daunting to pick the one that’s best for you. From color and material to thickness and texture, there are as many options as there are styles of yoga. 

So which one is right for you? We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite mats as well as some factors to consider when purchasing your next yoga mat. 

Yoga Mat Thickness and Weight

Yoga mats range from super thin, compact travel styles that weigh a mere 2 pounds to thick, cushy quarter-inch beasts that weigh as much as 7 pounds. If you’re not sure where to start, choose a mat that’s between 3-5 mm in thickness which will provide adequate support while still allowing you to feel a stable connection to the ground. 

Thicker mats provide additional cushioning and are ideal for yin or restorative styles of yoga where you are holding poses for longer periods of time or if you have tender or sensitive joints. The additional thickness can make it more challenging to balance but the extra cushion makes forearm, seated, and kneeling postures more comfortable. 

Many yogis prefer a thinner mat for active practices, like ashtanga or vinyasa, and often opt for mats with a slightly textured surface to increase stability and balance. The thinner mat allows for a better connection to the ground and makes difficult balancing postures more accessible. A thin mat combined with a moisture wicking towel is a favorite among hot yoga enthusiasts. 

Even lighter and thinner still is a travel mat which is specifically designed for portability. These yoga mats are extremely light and pack down smaller than traditional mats making them an ideal travel companion. Keep in mind, you will sacrifice some cushioning but these mats still provide a non-slip surface for your practice. 

Yoga Mat Material & Price 

Most synthetic yoga mats on the market today are made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which may be counter to your healthy living goals. Sure, these mats are light, sticky, and inexpensive but they may contain harmful chemicals for both you and the environment. By comparison, natural yoga mats are made from jute, cotton, cork, and natural rubber which are better for you and the planet. Yes, these mats cost more but they are built to last, providing years – often a lifetime – of enjoyment. 

Here are a few of our favorites that are worth the price tag:

B MAT Strong 

If you are looking for a perfect balance between comfort and functionality, the B Mat Strong is a great choice. It’s a cushy 6 mm thick but only weighs 5 lbs making it easy enough to transport to and from your favorite yoga studio. The Strong Mat provides significant cushion for your joints as well as a high grip surface to prevent slipping during a heated class.  It’s a great all-around work horse for your yoga practice. 

GRP Yoga Mat

A favorite among yoga teachers and serious practitioners, the GRP Yoga Mat provides 6mm of super supportive natural rubber with a charcoal-infused core that eliminates odors. This mat has the ultimate no slip-grip and offers unparalleled stability and support regardless of what your practice demands. It’s on the heavier side making it ideal for practicing at home. 

eKO 5mm Yoga Mat

The eKO 5mm Yoga Mat provides a naturally grippy surface with eco-friendly and biodegradable tree rubber. This is the most durable yoga mat on the market and, thanks to the environmentally friendly materials, supports both your practice and the planet. This 5 mm thick mat is firm enough for a vigorous vinyasa flow but soft enough to provide comfort during your Yin or restorative class. 

eKO Lite Mat

One of Manduka’s most affordable mats, the eKO Lite Mat provides a naturally grippy surface and the perfect balance between cushion and stability. Weighing in at 5 lbs and 4 mm thickness, many experienced yogis prefer this version because it is thinner and more lightweight. It’s also significantly more affordable than the GRP, making it an ideal starting point as you begin to explore high-end yoga mats. 

Keep in mind, your mat preferences may change depending on the style of yoga you practice. A quality yoga mat can improve not only your asana practice but also your overall enjoyment of yoga. And we think anything that keeps you coming back to your mat more frequently is worth the investment! 

Erin Entlich is a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, holistic health coach, and writer. She believes doing good starts with feeling good, which is why she loves helping people weave movement, mindfulness, and healthy eating into their daily lives. Find out more at www.erinentlich.com.