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Published May 19, 2022 9:00 AM

Your yoga mat should help make you more comfortable and relaxed. It can take a lot of self-motivation to sign up for a yoga class at your gym or commit to a weekly at-home class, so you want the best yoga mat that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Most standard yoga mats are 2-feet wide by 5 1/2- to 6-feet long, made from rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). While it may seem like a simple product, there are lots of distinctions among various mats—you may be surprised by how many options there are. Some are better suited to certain types of yoga and having the wrong one can make your practice more challenging. Across the board, though, the best yoga mats tend to be grippy and slip-proof, though that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be super-squishy. We’re here to help you learn how to pick the yoga mat for you, and have a few thoughts on the best ones you can buy right now.

How we picked the best yoga mats

I’ve been doing yoga off and on for the last two decades, alternating between years where I’d do yoga in a studio two or three times a week, and other times when I’d think to myself, “Hmm, I haven’t unrolled my mat in a month.” There have been times when I was limber and balanced enough to do advanced binds and acro-poses, though I’ve sometimes sat on my mat before class and worried I was too stiff to even get into some basic poses.

I’ve written outdoor and gear reviews for more than five years for sites like INSIDER, TripSavvy, Popular Mechanics, TechRadar, and more. Before that, I wrote product descriptions for workout and athletic clothing for an online retailer.

To make our selections, I looked at the mat’s thickness and materials, the brand’s reputation, and impressions from other users of various levels and disciplines. I also reached out to other yogis I know, including certified instructors, beginners, men, and retirees, to get their feedback on specific brands and products. 

What to consider when picking the best yoga mats

Picking a good yoga mat can have a huge effect on your workout. The best of the best can get rather pricey, though, so you should have an idea of what characteristics will be better or worse for you and your routine.

Thickness

It’s tempting to think you should buy the thickest yoga mat possible to make your practice more comfortable, especially if you spend a lot of time on your knees or elbows. But that may not actually be the best mat for you. Thick mats offer less stability for your hands and feet, making balancing and inversion poses more challenging. The most common yoga mat thickness is usually around 4mm, but there are both thinner and thicker options out there for different situations.

If you do yoga on a hard floor, choose the thickness based on your style of yoga. We recommend using a thicker 5mm to 6mm mat for Yin or Restorative yoga classes since they involve lots of deep stretches and seated positions. The extra padding will provide more cushioning on your joints, and won’t ball up as often when you’re reaching your fingertips to add an extra inch to your stretch.

If your yoga routine features lots of balancing positions, like vinyasa or power yoga, you’ll probably want a thinner mat—3mm or less. The firm surface will help you stabilize your balance positions and make it easier to find your center when making quick transitions between left and right or front to back.  You should always go with a thinner mat if you usually lay your yoga mat on the carpet since your carpet will already add an extra level of cushioning. 

Materials

The material your yoga mat is made from can have a material effect on how it performs during your regular routine. Some materials provide better grip than others: PVC, most commonly used in less expensive yoga mats, tends to be a little slippery. Mats made with moldable materials like synthetic rubber or recycled plastics often have slightly raised textures and patterns that create a grippy surface.

Meanwhile, Materials like cork and cotton are more absorbent and better for classes like Bikram, Vinyasa, and Power yoga where you’re almost certain to sweat. You don’t want your dripping perspiration to cause you to slip on your mat.  

Since there are a wide variety of options out there, it is very possible to pick a great yoga mat with sustainability in mind as well. PVC isn’t biodegradable and releases many chemicals in the production process. It’s generally considered one of the least eco-friendly plastics but is frequently used to keep costs down. Luckily, there are plenty of companies making mats from less harmful materials, including natural rubber, sustainable cork, or recycled plastics. Each one has its own feel, but we’ve found that materials like raised rubber or cotton tend to be a little less slippery.

Best yoga mats: Reviews & Recommendations

The best yoga mats are the highest-rated and most useful mats on the market, ranging from thin travel mats to durable studio mats. We believe there’s something for every type of Yogi here, but keep in mind that these recommendations are best practices for a wide range of people. Only you can pick the right yoga mat for you. If you find that a thick mat works with your balance poses or don’t mind carrying a 4mm mat when you travel, go for it. The important thing is practicing yoga and stretching your body, not having the “perfect” mat. 

Best overall: Manduka Pro

Manduka

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Manduka Pro is somehow both stable and supportive, easy to clean, and has a lifetime warranty. 

Specs

  • Thickness: 6mm
  • Dimensions: 71 x 26 inches
  • Material: Reduced-emission PVC

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Firm material
  • Comes in multiple sizes
  • Good for all yoga styles

Cons 

  • Heavy
  • Has a break-in period

The Manduka Pro may look familiar if you’ve ever taken a yoga class at your gym. I’ve practiced in studios from Vermont to California, Costa Rica to Bali, and I’ve found that, after a while, you start to notice when lots of people use the same mat, even with a plain black one like this.

Its universal appeal likely stems from its versatility. The Manduka Pro is thick enough to provide cushioning for relaxed classes. It’s made from a unique PVC material that doesn’t compromise balance. It’s also heavy—7 pounds—which ensures it doesn’t slide or bunch up. It’s a bit heavy if you bike to class or plan to carry it all day until class, but it doesn’t seem much thicker when rolled and should fit in any standard-size yoga mat bag. 

While it is made from non-recyclable PVC, it is durable enough that you should be able to use it every day for years, maybe even decades. It also requires a little bit of maintenance: You’ll need to break it in at first, but that should be a problem for frequent yogis.

Just remember to wipe it down with a cleaning spray every so often. The material doesn’t absorb sweat or oil, it can get a little slippery if you don’t keep it clean.

Best thick mat: Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat 

Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: Yogis with joint issues will appreciate how much support you get from this extremely thick mat.

Specs

  • Thickness: 10 mm
  • Dimensions: 72 x 24 inches
  • Material: Synthetic rubber/foam

Pros: 

  • Extra cushioning for joints
  • Included carrying strap
  • Works as a general exercise mat 
  • Comes in multiple colors

Cons

  • Not good for balance poses
  • Hard to store

Thick yoga mats can make balance exercises a little tricky, but they’re fabulous for Yin and Restorative yoga, or classes where you hold positions on your knees or elbows for an extended period of time. It’s also great for other floor exercises during home workouts like situps and crunches. The Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat is particularly padded, which makes it great if you’ve experienced pain in your knees or hip bones from other mats. 

That thickness comes with a couple of drawbacks: First, the cushioning makes it hard to stay stable in balance poses like Eagle or Warrior III. Second, it is significantly wider than a standard mat when rolled, even with the straps. The tightest you can roll this mat is around 7.5 or 8 inches.

Be sure to keep it clean to maintain the loft; oils and sweat can cause the foam to compress faster than average. 

Best Bikram (hot) yoga mat: Yoga Design Lab The Combo

Yoga Design Lab

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: Sustainable materials make us feel good about buying this mat while the absorbent top layer ensures against slips and slides from heavy perspiration. 

Specs

  • Thickness: 3.5 mm
  • Dimensions: 70 x 24 inches
  • Material: Natural rubber and recycled microfiber 

Pros: 

  • Anti-slip top layer absorbs sweat
  • Includes carrying strap
  • Sustainable and recycled materials
  • Multiple patterns

Cons

  • A little heavy 

It’s really important to use a very grippy yoga mat during Bikram yoga. Your mat can get pretty slippery as you sweat, and you’re more likely to get fatigued in a Bikram class than in a Restorative class. You want to feel secure at your contact points, so it pays to get a specialized mat.

Yoga Design Labs’ The Combo has a microfiber top layer that absorbs moisture, making it a great fit for Bikram and other high-impact exercises. The microfiber layer feels smooth and comfortable, similar to a cleaning cloth. Underneath the absorbent layer, the mat is made from natural rubber, which can absorb some moisture too. It’s also more sustainable than your average PVC yoga mat.

Cleaning and caring for your mat is always important, but it is essential here since it’s absorbing your sweat. If you regularly start sweating after your first sun salutation, this will be the best yoga mat for your practice. 

Best travel mat: Jade Yoga Voyager 

Jade Yoga

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: The Jade Yoga Voyager mat weighs less than a laptop, and easily fits in a variety of bags for easy packing. 

Specs 

  • Thickness: 1.6 mm
  • Dimensions: 68 x 24 inches 
  • Material: Natural rubber 

Pros: 

  • Can fold or roll for travel 
  • Very light
  • Folds to the size of a yoga block
  • Sustainably made

Cons

  • Very little cushioning 

I like bringing a yoga mat with me when I travel to drop into out-of-town studios and frequently stretch after sleeping in hotel beds (or, worse, on planes). If you need a mat that you can easily bring with you on vacation or business trips, Jade Yoga’s Voyager can fold to the size of a yoga block or roll into a tube thinner than a plastic water bottle, it’s easy to fit in your luggage and a no-brainer for traveling yogis. 

At 1.6 mm, it’s very thin, and you should expect next-to-nothing cushioning if you use it on a hard floor. It works great as a top layer over a studio or hotel mat, or in a carpeted hotel room, where the floor will provide a little extra cushion. I wouldn’t recommend using one as your everyday mat, but it’s great in a pinch and incredibly easy to bring along on any trip.

Best for carpet: Sacred Yoga Core Mat

Sacred Yoga

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Why it made the cut: With an extra-grippy material, the thin Sacred Yoga Core Mat ensures you’re stable even if your surface isn’t perfectly level.   

Specs

  • Thickness: 3mm
  • Dimensions: 72 x 24 inches
  • Material: TPE (mix of natural and synthetic rubber)

Pros 

  • Extremely grippy surface 
  • Made with eco-friendly materials 
  • Includes carrying strap
  • Unique colors/prints

Cons 

  • Some users report a rubbery smell at first

You don’t need to have a studio-smooth floor to do yoga, but doing yoga on a carpet adds a certain amount of squishiness that can impact your ability to balance. If you always practice on the carpet at home, you should make sure to get a thin mat to compensate for the padding from your carpet. You should also splurge for one that’s extra durable and won’t show damage from friction with carpet fibers. The Sacred Yoga Core Mat has both of those qualities. Available in 3mm and ultra-thin 1.5mm thicknesses, the Core is an extra grippy mat made to enhance stability.

Remember that your mat may not lay as flat on the carpet, making balance and stability a little more challenging. My living room carpet is about .25 inches deep (a very standard carpet depth) and it feels the same with a 4mm mat as being in a smooth-floored studio. But if you have a very plush carpet, you may want a platform or heavy mat to create a level surface. 

Best for beginners: Liforme Yoga Mat

Liforme

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: A guidance system makes it easy to find your center—literally—while the grippy texture helps secure your hands when you’re reaching for new poses. 

Specs

  • Thickness: 4.3 inches
  • Dimensions: 72 x 24 inches
  • Material: Synthetic rubber/foam

Pros

  • Printed guidance helps you learn poses correctly
  • Comes with carrying bag
  • Very grippy material 

Cons 

  • Expensive, especially for new yoga fans

When I started doing yoga in college, the hardest part of classes was figuring out where my hands and feet were supposed to go, especially with my head down or if I was in the back row. I didn’t always know what the instructors meant when they referred to “centering,” and it was hard to tell if my feet were actually aligned correctly in poses like Extended Side Angle.

Fortunately, Liforme makes a practice mat designed to help people find their footing. It has alignment guidance markings, which show you how to find important places on your mat. There are lines for even hand and foot placement, a lotus to mark the center of the mat, and marks to show you where your feet should be in 45-degree angle positions like Reverse Warrior. It’s ideal for beginners learning new poses, but it may also be useful for intermediate yogis looking to perfect poses they already know. 

Best budget: Beautyovo Yoga Mat with Strap

Beautyovo

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Buy it used or refurbished: eBay

Why it made the cut: Beautyovo’s budget-friendly yoga mat is comfortable, grippy, and comes with a carrying strap for easy carrying. 

Specs

  • Thickness: 8.4 mm
  • Dimensions: 72 x 24 inches
  • Material: TPE (mix of natural and synthetic rubber)

Pros: 

  • Budget-friendly
  • Comes with carrying strap
  • No PVC
  • Double-sided/double textured 

Cons

  • Won’t last that long
  • Too thick for balance poses 

If you’re new to yoga and still on the fence about whether you’ll make it part of your regular workout routine, there’s no reason to drop $100 or more on an expensive mat. Beautyovo’s mat isn’t going to win any awards for durability or style, but it’s a solid choice if you only plan to use it every so often. It’s thick and cushioned, which is great for beginners and infrequent yogis who may want a little extra padding, and probably aren’t working on complicated balance positions. It also comes with a strap, making it easy to carry to the gym and easy to store in the corner of a closet or under the couch. 

This mat has a different texture on each side, supposedly for gripping floors and providing sweat-proof traction, but I don’t notice much difference between the front and the back. If yoga is a regular part of your weekly routine, you’ll likely want to upgrade to a thinner, more durable mat. If you’re just starting out or simply don’t want to spend a lot of money, though, it’s a solid choice.

FAQs

Q: Which brand of yoga mat is best?

You don’t need to stress over which yoga mat brand is best. There isn’t a right or wrong answer. True yogis know that one of the goals of yoga is to become more mindful and connected to your body and surroundings, so if you notice what brand anyone’s mat is, you may not be focusing enough on yourself. That said, well-known brands like Manduka, Lululemon, and Alo Yoga usually stand by their products. They tend to be more durable and offer longer guarantees than generic brands.

Q: What is the best thickness for a yoga mat?

Getting a thicker or thinner yoga mat largely comes down to personal preference but we think there are certain situations where one is better than the other. Very thin mats will have relatively no padding, but they roll (or fold) into very small sizes, making them ideal for travel. They can also be used as an extra layer on a thin yoga mat if you want to add a bit more cushioning or provide extra grip for stretching on a gym floor. Thick mats provide extra cushioning for joints and bones, but that same cushioning can make balance poses trickier. If you haven’t dialed in one style of yoga you prefer, opt for an average thickness yoga mat, which should suffice for most poses and styles. 

Q: How much does a yoga mat cost?

Yoga mat prices vary a lot. You can find budget-conscious options for around $20, but the best of the best can cost between $100-$200. Many of the yoga mats I love fall somewhere in the middle—between $40 and $80. If you’re a professional, or just do yoga every day, there are plenty of luxurious options made from unique features like moisture-absorbing layers or specific prints and alignment guides.

Q: Does yoga mat quality matter?

Yes! A well-constructed yoga mat made with quality materials will last longer, so you won’t need to replace your mat as often. Depending on what your mat is made of, it’s also less likely to absorb dirt and oils, making your mat feel greasy and slippery.

Final thoughts on the best yoga mats

You shouldn’t worry too hard about picking the right yoga mat. Yes, some are good and some are bad. In theory, it could make a difference in helping you eventually nail a tricky inverted pose. The most important thing, though, is to find one you like and feel comfortable using. Make sure you choose a mat that makes you feel happy and motivated when you unroll it at the start of every class.