Let’s face it, there are a lot of yoga mats on the market today and not a lot of information about which is the best yoga mat you should choose. Should you go with the cheap one, the one your favorite Instagram yogi constantly talks about, or the one you’ve tried out at your local studio? As someone who has over 2,000 hours practicing and teaching yoga, I have plenty of experience with yoga mats. I’d like to share my pick for the best yoga mat and why.
There are many choices when it comes to yoga mats, including ranges of prices and quality. It’s hard to know what the right decision is when looking for the one essential item you need for your yoga practice. Similar to the Best Food Dehydrator Review you may have read, we will go over my picks for the best yoga mat.
The Three Best Yoga Mats on the Market
Let’s dive into my choice for the best mat you can get for your money and some other runner-ups that will also serve you well.
The Manduka PRO is my pick for the best yoga mat on the market today. This yoga mat is a high-quality mat made of eco-friendly PVC that is free of toxins for both the health of you and the environment. This mat is 6mm – the perfect thickness of a yoga mat.
It is firm, sturdy, and durable while providing enough cushion so that you don’t have to have extra padding on your joints. However, it is not so much padding that you feel far away from the stabilization and the grounding of the floor underneath you.
Weight and Ease of Use
It weighs 7.5 pounds which is a bit heavier than some other mats. But the little extra weight when hauling it from class to class is worth it. Just like with all Manduka mats, you do need to break it in. This means the first few practices on your new mat will include some adjustments and finding your grip.
Once you break the mat in, you will never have this problem again. These mats are easy to clean and don’t have that unpleasant and distinct yoga mat smell or hold smell after you sweat on them like some of the rubber mats do.
Size and Practice Uses
It is the perfect size with enough room for taller folks. There is a longer version if you are over six feet tall. The Manduka Pro is great for all types of yoga but if you practice Bikram or in a highly heated room then you may need a yoga towel for on top of the mat.
However, this mat works wonderfully for most styles and room conditions. It is sticky with good grip. You won’t find yourself having to adjust your downward dog every few seconds like you do on some lower quality mats.
This mat is in the higher price range but the bonus with the Manduka PRO is that it has a lifetime guarantee. The company stands behind their products and will replace it if something happens to it or it begins to wear prematurely. This is one of the main reasons I love this mat and what makes the initial investment worth it.
This mat also comes in great colors and different styles so you don’t just have to stick with a black mat. Overall I cannot recommend this mat enough. After trying multiple different mats, I always come back to my Manduka PRO.
The Runner Up
The Jade Harmony comes in as runner-up on my list of best yoga mats. This mat is still great and with a slightly lower price than the Manduka PRO, it might end up being the right choice for you. It has quite a different feel than the Manduka PRO as it is made of rubber and not PVC. This rubber is all naturally sourced and eco-friendly – again a great choice for both you and the environment.
Jade describes themselves as the most eco-friendly yoga mat company and they definitely prioritize their environmental impact when they create their products. The company manufactures their mats in the United States and plants a tree for every mat sold.
Weight and Ease of Use
The Jade Harmony is 4.7mm thick. While that is a sweet spot for thickness, it is a little thinner than the Manduka PRO. This mat weighs 5 pounds and is a lighter choice if you commute by bike or walk to yoga class. I use this mat as my travel mat since it is lighter but still a great mat.
The rubber can be a bit smelly and overwhelming when you first get the mat. I suggest letting it air out for a few days outside or cleaning it and spraying it down with essential oils. This mat is relatively easy to clean, however I think the texture of the Manduka PRO makes it easier to clean.
Practice Uses and Durability
The feel of this mat is quite sturdy and durable. It offers a great surface to practice yoga on. I don’t suggest this mat for super hot or sweaty yoga as the rubber doesn’t wick away or absorb sweat all that well. However, you could use a yoga towel on top of this mat to remedy that problem. The grip of this mat (if you aren’t sweaty) is great though. I love practicing in nonheated rooms on this mat and find it to be great for meditation practice.
Size and Variety
The Jade Harmony mat does come in some fun colors, however, they don’t offer special styles or unique designs on their mats. They do come in extra wide and extra long varieties though which is great for those that want even more space on their mat. Overall, I like this mat and keep one as a backup for travel or for less intense practices. I would gladly recommend it to a friend.
The Honorable Mention
The honorable mention for best yoga mat goes to the Gaiam Sol Power-Grip . This was the first quality yoga mat that I owned. While it’s not the best yoga mat on the market, it is better than most and has some great qualities about it. The thickness of this mat is spot on at 4mm. It also offers a great amount of support and cushioning for sensitive joints.
This mat is made out of all natural rubber making it a great surface for practices that are nonheated. It provides a good amount of grip but can get slippery once you begin to sweat. The price point on this mat comes in the mid-range and is good for someone who isn’t ready to invest over $100 for a mat.
The Gaiam Sol Power-Grip comes in two stylish colors. Unfortunately for those that like to have a bit more style options, you may feel limited with only two choices. Overall this mat is a quality mat with some great features, but it does tend to wear out more easily than others. You may end up needing to replace this mat more often.
What to Look for in a Yoga Mat
One of the most popular questions that is brought up when practicing yoga is if they should spend that much money on a mat. I often get asked if they could simply practice on a thin mat. My answer is that they should really invest in a quality mat. I promise it is worth it and that it will change their practice.
I myself practiced on a cheap mat for years and I wish someone had given me this advice earlier on. It was uncomfortable and my practice suffered because I wasn’t as committed. Buy the good mat. It’s a good investment. Those cheap mats are not only thin, they’re not meant to last long. You may end buying three or four in a year – and spending the equivalent of a good one (if not more).
There are a few things you want to consider when buying a yoga mat. I’ll break them down so you have some background info and understand the important qualities to look for when choosing a yoga mat. This will also help you see why I chose the Manduka PRO as the best yoga mat and why I chose the Jade Harmony and Gaiam Sol Power-Grip as runner-ups.
Even though most mats are measured in millimeters and you wouldn’t think plus or minus a few would make a difference, they really do. If it’s too thin, you risk putting too much pressure on your sensitive joints. You may also find yourself wishing you could double up your mat in poses like low lunge and bridge. On the other hand, if you go too thick, you lose the strong stable connection to the ground underneath you.
Additionally the super thick mats I tend to see are way too squishy. All of that thickness won’t give you a sturdy base to practice on. When choosing a mat, you want to confirm that it’s thick enough to support you. But, you don’t want it so thick that you have trouble balancing or feel disconnected from the Earth underneath you. I find that four to six millimeters is the sweet spot when it comes to thickness of a yoga mat.
The Manduka PRO, Jade Harmony, and Gaiam Sol Power-Grip all fall into this perfect range of thickness. For yoga mats that you want to use for travel or if a little lack of padding doesn’t bother you, then you can go for three or four millimeters thick. Anything less than that will make it too uncomfortable for you to practice.
Additionally, anything more than seven millimeters is just too thick and isn’t necessary. I wouldn’t invest in a mat that is more than six millimeters thick. A mat that is too thick will just create instability in your practice and will be unnecessarily heavy. It may also make you hesitant to go to your class.
Texture and Material
Material and texture may be the most important factors to consider when choosing a yoga mat. If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class on a slippery mat, you know the pain of not having the right material and texture to your mat. There are a few different types of material that yoga mats tend to be made of. Some are much better than others.
The shiny, cheap, and often textured mats that you can find at most stores are made out of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. While not all PVC is created equally, a lot of the PVC that is manufactured into yoga mats contains many chemicals which can cause an assortment of health problems. These toxic plastics are also not good for the environment.
When choosing a mat, it is good to look at what material the mat is made out of. If it is PVC, you may need to do some more investigation before you make your purchase. If it is not eco-certified and PVC safe, you are putting yourself and others at risk by practicing on that material. Note that there are quite a few quality mats, such as the Manduka PRO, that use PVC as one of their materials as well. However, these PVCs tend to be eco-friendly and safe from toxins. They are of a better quality and are more durable and slip-proof.
The next type of material that is commonly used in yoga mat production is rubber. Rubber is a great material for yoga mats as it offers cushion and stickiness that is essential for helping you stay put in your down dog while offering you a great deal of support in a low lunge. When looking at rubber mats, it is important to factor whether the rubber is man-made or naturally harvested. Naturally harvested rubber is much more environmentally friendly and the better choice if you have the option. The Jade Harmony, in particular, uses man-made rubber that is eco-friendly and durable.
Jute is also a newer material that some companies are using in their yoga mats. Jute is a natural fabric that can be blended with rubber or other synthetic materials to create durable, strong yoga mats. When choosing your mat, try to stick to eco-friendly materials.
Try out the texture of the mat if you can. You want the mat to feel stable enough to support lots of yoga without falling apart. It should also offer some stickiness and resistance so that you don’t begin to slip off of it the moment you begin to sweat.
There is quite a wide range in price when it comes to yoga mats. While spending a bit more for higher quality is worth it in the long run, you also don’t want to spend extra money just for a fancy brand name. Low-quality mats tend to be priced around $10-30. While they are better than nothing, they tend to have to be replaced quite often and don’t offer the best foundation if you plan to do any sort of flow or hot yoga.
The next range of yoga mats is usually priced between $50-75. These mats tend to be a bit higher quality, are made of better materials, and are much more durable. You won’t have to replace these mats quite as often and they offer a good deal of sturdiness and cushion. However, these mats tend to lack stickiness.
They may offer some sort of resistance to sweat but may leave you sliding by the end of class. These mats are better for nonheated practices or slower styles like Hatha or yin. If you choose to get one of these mats and want to practice more flow or heated yoga, you should buy a yoga towel that you can place on your mat once you begin to sweat.
The higher price ranged mats are usually around $85-140. These are usually the highest quality mats. These mats tend to be made out of the best materials and offer the most durability, cushion, and stickiness for your money. The most expensive mat is not always the best though so make sure you’re not just shelling out extra money for a brand name or a cool design.
Compare costs across different websites as well once you’ve decided on a particular style of yoga mat.
Style and Color
For some people, style and the color make no difference when choosing a yoga mat. They are happy with whatever is most functional. However, others take the style and color of their mat very seriously and may even choose one mat over the other based on these factors. Certain brands offer their mats in a wide range of colors and may even feature fancy designs or patterns that set them apart from their competition. Others only offer their mat in black or in limited colors.
A lot of the big brands, such as Manduka and Lululemon, are catching on that people want more variety in their yoga mat colors and styles. Because of this, they may offer limited edition artist creations and seasonal colors. It may also appeal to those yogis who are concerned with the style of their mat.
While fun colors and patterns on mats can make it so you want to practice more often, I personally wouldn’t pay more just for my favorite color. This should be the last thing you factor into your mat purchase. It can be an added bonus if the mat you choose just also happens to be in your favorite color.
Wrapping it Up
The Manduka PRO mat won my search for the best yoga mat because it outperforms all the rest, has a great warranty, and lasts longer than its competitors. It is durable, with a great texture and material, and comes in a variety of colors and designs. While the runner-up and honorable mention mats are also great choices, I personally think every devoted yogi should own a Manduka PRO yoga mat. They need some love to break them in, but once you do you’ll never want to practice on any other mat.
Q & A:
Q: How do I tell if my yoga mat is made out of harmful PVC?
A: Unless it is clearly stated that your yoga mat is made from non-toxic PVC or another type of natural material then chances are it has some harmful chemicals within its material and should be replaced with a different non-toxic mat.
Q: Can I use my yoga mat for other activities besides yoga?
A: Yes! Your yoga mat provides you a great space to practice Pilates, barre, calisthenics, and other movement practices. It’s also a great space to do extra core work. I would suggest not wearing shoes on your yoga mat to keep the surface of your yoga mat clean though.
Q: What is the best way to clean my yoga mat?
A: Each manufacturer has a slightly different answer to this so I would suggest looking at the aftercare instructions from the company that you choose to buy your mat from. A great general cleaner though is water mixed with a little bit of tea tree oil. This will kill off any of the bad bacteria and leave your mat smelling fresh.