The search for the perfect yoga mat is like a quest for the Holy Grail. Or maybe it’s like being a contestant on Bachelor in Paradise, where the options seem limitless, but quality? Maybe not-so-much.
One of the things that makes yoga so appealing is you don’t need much to do it. Get some comfy clothes and a mat and boom! You are ready to rock and roll. Or chill out. Either/or, because yoga lets you choose your own adventure.
Yogis who have a consistent practice get pretty obsessed over their mats, and for good reason. We literally shed blood (sometimes), sweat (always), and tears (it happens) on our mats. And trust, Goldilocks has nothing on yogis when it comes to how picky we are about our mats. It must be grippy-but not have too much grip, cushy but not squishy, sturdy but not too heavy.
I’ve put together a review of some of my all time favorite yoga mats. They aren’t the cheapest out there, but they are high quality and will withstand even the most intense yoga session. It can be tempting to buy a less expensive mat (and I’ve included a great life hack for those mats!), but the quality of your mat can make or break your experience. A poorly made mat literally feels like a slip and slide experience, and trust me when I say it’s impossible to chill out and get your zen on when you’re worried about landing on your face in the middle of a yoga class. A good mat can last for years without needing to be replaced.
BEST MATS IN THE $75 to $100 PRICE RANGE
GREAT OPTION FOR: yoga practitioners who do hot yoga, Ashtanga, Iyengar, power yoga, or any precision alignment-based yoga practice.
WHO MIGHT NOT LOVE THIS MAT: Yoga practitioners who strictly restorative or Yin yoga.
This is the mat I use both when I teach or take classes. I love Liforme so much, I want to spin in circles while singing about the hills being alive with the sound of music. I’m not the only one who’s a fan, because the majority of my friends who teach or have dedicated practices also swear by this mat.
ALIGNMENT SYSTEM: Liforme uses the Alignforme system, so all their mats include lines and marking that help you find perfect alignment. They are freaking magical. Since using this mat, I’ve found my own alignment is much more consistent, and it also helps with arm balances and inversions. Another fabulous thing about the alignment system is that it helps to build correct muscle memory. I’ve seen dupes for the Liforme mat on Amazon, but I’m too scared to test them out and have them fall apart on me. To learn how to utilize the mat, check out this video.
QUALITY: this is an expensive mat, but you get what you pay for in this case. It’s incredibly durable, and it holds up well to even the most demanding yoga practice.
GRIP: this mat holds up to even the sweatiest yoga sesh. I get super sweaty whenever I do yoga (I know, so cute, right?), but I never slip or slid on this mat, no matter how intense my practice is or how sweaty—um, glistening—I get.
CUSHION: while I don’t think my Liforme mat is as cushiony as my Lululemon mat, it’s definitely pretty comfy. Too much cushion can throw off your balance, and this mat strikes a happy medium. It’s not as thin as most Jade mats or some of the Manduka mats, but it’s firm enough that I don’t feel like it impairs my balance. While I find it comfortable, I don’t think this would be the ideal mat for restorative or Yin yoga, due to the extreme grip and
SIZE: Liforme mats are longer and wider than other mats, which I consider a significant pro. Sometimes, you just need some goddamn space to move around like a baby monkey, and this mat provides just that. It also makes the mats a great fit for all body shapes and sizes. Few things are more tragic than having your feel extend off your mat in savasana, right?!
OPTIONS: there are a variety of choices, ranging from travel mats, inversions pads (OMG love this!), to colors and styles. The mats are all a solid color, but there are several options on the alignment patterns, like the Zodiac Animal mat, the Happiness or Gratitude themed mats.
ECO FRIENDLY & ETHICAL: The Liforme company is eco friendly and socially just. I LOVE THIS! It actually means a lot to me as a yoga practitioner, because Ahimsa (doing no harm/respecting all living beings) is a major concept in yoga. Knowing a company is operating in an ethical manner makes me feel that much better when I hit my mat. The mats are also PVC free and biodegradable. Can you believe?!
WEIGHT: Unless you’re getting the travel versions, these mats are pretty heavy. They weigh 2.5kg, which doesn’t seem like a lot till you’re lugging it around. BUT IT’S WORTH IT. Just consider it part of your workout.
GRIP: ok, this is a pro, but it has a teeny bit of a drawback. The grip is so fantastic, that it can make jump throughs and transitions a tad tricky at times.
COST: the price ranges from $120-$160, so it’s an investment. I will add though, that these mats last for what seems like forever and a day.
ADDITIONAL: hand and feet markings and scrapes definitely show up on the lighter colored mats. I’ve found this to be true of every smooth rubber mat I’ve ever tried in my entire life, so it’s not a make or break for me. Also, because this mat is hardcore moisture wicking, you have to clean it with a damp cloth and gentle soap. Spraying this baby down simply won’t cut it.
The Jade company has a strong focus on providing ethical, eco-friendly mats. Everything, from the company values to the website, is very…yoga. It’s the crunchiest of granola-crunch. Jade also has a wide array of yoga props and accessories, so it’s a good one stop shop. People who buy Jade mats love them and swear by them, so you know a company is doing something right when it has a devoted following.
GREAT OPTION FOR: environmentally conscious yoga practitioners, Hatha yoga, (non-heated) vinyasa, power yoga.
WHO IT MIGHT NOT BE A GREAT FIT FOR: potentially not as effective for hot yoga or any really sweaty yoga sessions.
MATERIAL: Made from natural rubber so it’s environmentally friendly. The mats are excellent quality and will last ages beyond when you start using it.
GRIP: these mats have a pretty strong grip, so you can do your practice without fear of falling on your face. Save that money maker! I personally don’t think these mats hold up as well during an extreme sweaty flow, but I have plenty of friends that swear by Jade mats. Obviously, they are not perfuse, sweaty messes like I am during yoga.
ECO FRIENDLY & ETHICAL: The company is passionate about giving back, and does so by planting a tree for each mat bought, donating money to causes like curing ovarian cancer etc. These mats are also PVC free and non-toxic, which is pretty damn nice, since we lie all over our mats like kittens basking in the sunlight. Skin-to-mat contact happens a lot in yoga, so your mat may as well be non-toxic.
WEIGHT: these mats feel considerably lighter than other brands, so they are much easier to tote around town.
OPTIONS: there’s a fair selection of solid colors, and some great options on travel mats that actually fold up so you can pop it in your bag or carry-on. I’ve never used the travel mats, but they have solid reviews. There’s also a mat designed specifically for beginners, and it’s slightly thicker than the travel mat but thinner than the standard Jade mat. The Elite Mat has an extra dense top layer to hold up better during a hot yoga or Ashtanga sweat sesh.
COST: these mats run around $50-$119, so they aren’t the cheapest option.
GRIP: I personally don’t feel like the grip holds up to intense sweat sessions or hot yoga, but I doubt you will ever slip and fall flat on your face. These mats are no slip and slide.
CUSHION: This of course is personal preference, but I don’t consider Jade mats to be the most comfy of all the mats I’ve ever tried. Plus, the mats have a bit of texture, and that personally drives me bonkers.
SIZE: not the best pick for taller yogis or people who need extra room to do some crazy yoga stunts.
QUALITY: I don’t know what it is about the material, but I’ve seen quite a few of these mats start to fall apart or get deep indentations where hands and feet often go. I also know people who have had their Jade mats for like, a million years and they look brand new, so who knows.
GREAT FIT FOR: virtually any practice. Manduka has options that serve all styles of yoga. The extra thick mats are particularly great for restorative and Yin styles of yoga.
Maduka mats and accessories are well-known and trusted within the yoga community, and for good reason. The company has a ton of affiliate programs with Instagram users and studios worldwide, and the mats are freaking awesome.
GRIP: Manduka mats are known for their great grip, and they are specifically designed to prevent the horrible slipping and sliding that happens during hot yoga.
CUSHION: Comfortable cushioning, and comes in a thicker mat as well
QUALITY: These mats are built to last, and chances are your Manduka mat will outlast you if the Apocalypse ever happens.
VARIETY: Out of all the yoga mat companies, Manduka just might offer the most choices. They have an excellent variety of colors and styles. Manduka offers Pro, Performance, and Foundation series mats, as well as Prolite and travel mats. They also have giant-sized mats that you can throw down in your yoga studio and CLAIM YOUR SPOT. Back off, bitches! Namaste.
ECO FRIENDLY: The eKo mats are environmentally friendly and non-toxic, but definitely have a different feel from the traditional mats.
COST: Expensive, running $50s to $100+
WEIGHT: Very heavy, unless you buy the travel mats. Note: the travel light feels like practicing on the bare floor, so be aware of that if you choose to purchase it. Like all travel mats, you’re purchasing something that you can easily pack with you can bring your little yoga space with you wherever you go, while ensuring you have a good grippy mat.
ADDITIONAL: not all the mats are environmentally friendly (at the time of this writing).
GURUS CORK MAT
GREAT FIT FOR: yoga practitioners who want something different than the standard mat. Great for hot yoga or sweaty yoga sessions, in addition to outdoor yoga (because the cork material doesn’t absorb heat).
NOT A GREAT FIT FOR: people who don’t prefer textured mat or feeling like they’re practicing on the remains of a thousand wine bottle corks.
A mat made out of cork material? Talk about weird, right? Every time I’ve practiced on one, all I can think about is wine. I dearly hope these mats are made from the recycled corks of wine bottles, because that would be the perfect marriage of two things I love dearly: wine and yoga. While I personally don’t use a cork mat, I know quite a few people who do and swear by them. And, I guess if you’re in a flash flood, you can use your mat as a raft. IDK. Just throwing out ideas, mm-kay?
ECO FRIENDLY: Super environmentally friendly, obvi. Double sided, with rubber on the bottom to prevent your mat from slipping around. Gurus also plants a tree for every mat that is purchased. I mean, how could you not love that?!
COMFORT: while these mats don’t have the same cushion feel of rubber mats, they are actually a lot more comfortable than you would think, considering I expected them to feel like lying down on a bed of disposed cork tops.
GRIP/SWEAT WICKING: allegedly these mats are really grippy, and people who use them frequently really love the natural texture. I hate, loathe, and despise textured mats, but to each their own. Cork naturally wicks away moisture, so it’s a great pick for people who do vigorous yoga practices (aka sweats like a mo fo).
QUALITY: these mats are extremely durable
ADDITIONAL: Another plus about these mats is they don’t seem to collect every damn piece of lint, hair, dust, and other particles from the studio floor like rubber mats do.
MATERIAL/TEXTURE: Practicing on cork might feel weird to you. I can’t personally get into it. I’m a texture fiend.
WEIGHT: Like most quality mats, you might wrench your shoulder out of socket carrying it around, because it is no feather.
VARIETY: you get what you see and that’s it. I guess dyed cork is just too much, even for the yoga world.
ADDITIONAL: Because these mats are made of cork, they retain their rolled up shape a bit on the end when you spread them out. Sure, sure, you can smooth them over, BUT it’s kind of a pain. I’ve seen all of my friends practicing with slightly curled up/under front or back portions of their mats. This would drive me and my OCD brain b-a-n-a-n-a-s. However, every one of my friends who owns a cork mat is a diehard devotee, so it might be a great pick for you.
OTHER RELIABLE CORK MAT BRANDS:
ALO & LULULEMON
GREAT FIT FOR: general vinyasa, sweaty yoga sessions, restorative and Yin yoga.
NOT A GREAT FIT FOR: yoga practitioners who are concerned about environmentally friendly and non-toxic materials.
I’m lumping these two together brands together, because I kid you not, they are twinning hard. They’re pretty much exact dupes for each other and have the same pros and cons. I use my Lululemon mat for my home practice and stretching sessions, because it’s super comfy. It’s a pain to lug around (but aren’t all mats?), but my mat has held up to a freaking ton of yoga shenanigans.
GRIP: Both mats have good grip and are moisture wicking. But they aren’t so grippy that they make transitions and jump throughs difficult.
DURABILITY/CUSHION: I use my Lululemon mat for my home practice, and it it’s a really comfortable mat. It’s thicker than Liforme, so it definitely feels really comfortable when doing prone postures or anything on my back.
ADDITIONAL: Both brands are easy to wipe down with a mat cleaning spray, which is a huge plus. Lululemon offers more variety on colors and travel mats.
MATERIAL: Potentially toxic materials, and not PVC free. Not environmentally friendly. Like all smooth rubber mats, markings show up on the lighter/brighter mats.
ADDITIONAL: Some people complain there’s a bit of a “rubbery/chemical” smell, and I think this is true. But I have the smelling abilities of Hannibal Lecture, so take that with a grain of salt. Lululemon even states that the smell will fade over time, so at least they’re upfront about that.
WEIGHT: Like all high quality mats, these mats can be a bit hefty to lug around.
LIFEHACK FOR INEXPENSIVE MATS:
While it’s definitely worth investing in a good mat, sometimes that’s not always realistic, especially if you’re trying to decide if you want to “get into yoga.”
Instead of buying a more expensive mat, simply invest in a good yoga towel to cover your mat. This will eliminate any slipping you might experience, and help you get deeper and stronger in your asanas. While a towel might impede your transitions, it will help significantly in your overall practice. If your towel is long enough, tuck it under the front and back of your mat to help keep it in place.
Regardless of what mat you chose to use, the most important thing is using it. GET. ON. YOUR. MAT. It’s the daily mantra I shout to myself every day. A little bit of yoga goes a long way in untangling your thoughts, quieting anxiety, and helping to break addictions. Yoga is powerful, and all you have to do is, well…do it.