A mat is a mat, right? Not when it comes to yoga. In yoga, your mat is your private space. It’s where you come to find zen, strength, relief — whatever it is that drives your yoga practice. But it’s hard to get there when you have a mat that messes with your flow. Even the most blissed-out yogi is going to get pissed off if their hands start sliding or their wrists feel like they’re planted directly into a wood floor. “If you practice regularly, you must invest in your own mat,” asserts Kristin McGee, a Peloton yoga instructor.
How to Choose a Yoga Mat
Most yoga mats look pretty similar, but there are subtle differences in thickness, material, texture and grip or stickiness that can affect how you move. That last attribute is one of the most essential elements for yogis:
“A mat needs to have that good grip from the beginning,” says McGee. “If you find you’re sliding way too much, it’s not a good sign.” All that extra movement is going to distract you from being present and focusing on your flow — the whole point of yoga.
A textured mat will typically provide more traction, but the material can affect the grip factor as well. “Most mats are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC),” says Kevin Schaefer, gearhead and yoga instructor at outdoor e-retailer Backcountry. PVC was the OG sticky mat. But now, there are more eco-friendly mats made from natural and recycled rubber or other natural materials that provide just as much grip. “Rubber is my go-to—it’s firm and great for balancing poses, but with some thickness, so it’s comfortable when you are embracing the floor and gravity.”
For yogis with a rubber or latex allergy, it’s important to consider the material your mat is made of. To avoid any health concerns, opt for a mat containing only natural materials.
Comfort is another major factor for yogis, and a mat’s thickness determines that. “Your travel mats can be as thin as 1mm to the mid-plush thickness of 3mm,” explains Schaefer. “Your usual home mat is going to be around 3–6mm in thickness. And if you want some extra comfort, you can go 7mm-plus.” Some people need more padding than others, so it’s crucial to figure out what feels good to you (and your joints).
How to Clean a Yoga Mat
A good mat can be an investment, but it’s worth it. “If you take care of them, yoga mats can last for quite a long time — at least five years!” says McGee. That means wiping it down after you practice (every time would be great, but at least once a week) and giving it a deeper scrub and letting it hang dry once a month, she adds. McGee recommends the Jo-Sha Yoga Cleansing Wipes, but you can also use warm water and a few drops of dish soap.
To clean a yoga mat, the process is very simple.
- Lay your mat out on a flat surface
- Mix warm water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle or bowl
- Wet your cleaning rag and clean the mat from top to bottom in a circular motion
- Wipe the mat clean with a dry towel
- Air dry your yoga mat for at least 30 minutes, ensuring it’s completely dry before putting it away
There are also deodorants, like Swiff Spray, that you can use to treat your yoga mats so they maintain a stink-free condition in-between deep cleans.
This definitive guide provides information on the 10 best yoga mats available based on features like thickness, material, texture, grip, durability and price. In it, we offer suggestions on which mat to buy for different practices based on our own experiences as well as input from professional yoga instructors. There are a variety of winners for all wallets, whether you’re looking for a budget intro option or one for on-the-go flows.
- Affordable at less than $50
- Comes with a shoulder strap
- Material (PVC foam) is not eco-friendly
- Experts might favor less cushioning
As with yoga, the features at play in yoga mats operate according to balance. A thicker mat provides comfort but typically sacrifices stability, for instance. We've found that Decathlon's Kimjaly 8mm mat offers the best of all worlds, particularly for more casual yogis but certainly not excluding seasoned pros. Its thick, textured foam is comfortable and supportive, even during fast-paced flows, and grippy even when things get sweaty (we did notice some slipping with sweat, but it was rare). The mat also has a grooved line running down the middle, which is a nice visual aid for alignment, and it's lightweight at just over four pounds — it even comes with a shoulder strap.
- Material is easy to keep clean
- More durable than cheaper mats
- Heavy at 7.5 pounds
- Requires some breaking in
At 6mm thick and slightly longer and wider than average, the best-selling Manduka Pro has a little bit of everything. The fabric-like finish is grippy, the closed-cell surface keeps moisture and sweat from seeping into the material, and the high-density cushioning keeps you comfortable and stable whether you’re practicing savasana on a hardwood floor or working tree pose on top of carpet. But the real selling point is the lifetime warranty; the brand will replace your mat if it shows any signs of manufacturer defects or irregular wear. It’s such a popular mat that the company also has a lighter 4.7mm option and a grippier version for hot yoga.
- Grip on both sides
- Comes with a strap
- Won't last as long as more durable, thicker mats
- Not ideal for taller yogis
For beginners and casual yogis, it’s OK to opt for a budget mat — as long as it doesn’t sacrifice function for savings. BalanceFrom’s GoYoga mat is over 6mm thick for added comfort and is made from lightweight, high-density foam with double-sided non-slip surfaces. It may not have the cache or durability (this type of foam tends to flake over time) of some of the pricier options, but you could replace it six times over and still ring up under the total cost of a name brand. That said, spending more on a mat that will last longer brings other benefits — including freedom from the guilt of throwing so much foam in the garbage.
- 2-in-1 design is convenient for yogis on the go
- Can be used in heated or non-heated environments
- Harder to wash than traditional yoga towels/ mats
- Moisture can pool on occasion
There’s nothing less graceful than slipping and sliding around your mat, which is why excellent traction is especially crucial when you add high-sweat conditions to your practice. The Aurorae Synergy is layered with a non-slip, super absorbent microfiber towel to keep your hands and feet from losing their grip. And the more you sweat, the grippier the mat gets; in fact, the brand recommends spritzing it with water before class to max out the sticky benefits. Underneath, there’s a comfortable 5mm of mat made from Polymer Environmental Resin (PER), a biodegradable synthetic material. Plus, you can flip the mat over, for a more traditional surface, if you’re in a non-heated class.
- Ideal for those with sensitive joints
- Made from environmentally-friendly, natural materials
- Requires a break-in period
- Heavier than a traditional mat
If you’ve got knee, wrist or ankle issues, you might prefer a mat that puts a little more cushioning between you and whatever surface you practice on — especially if you’re on something like concrete, which has approximately zero give. This mat’s memory foam-like padding, made from environmentally-friendly materials woven with natural jute fibers, comes in at 8mm thick, enough to supply a solid cushion but not so thick that you find yourself sinking right into it. Those jute fibers, which are antifungal and antimicrobial, provide some grip for your skin. They may feel scratchy at first, but they soften with use.
- Lightweight profile rolls and folds easily
- Semi-closed cell surface is easy to clean
- May be too thin for those wanting more cushioning
- Carrying strap not included
Les Mills is a great on-demand workout platform offering classes in a number of disciplines, including yoga. The brand’s virtual classes can be attended anywhere, so it’s no surprise that the Les Mills Travel Yoga Mat is ready for on-the-go practice. At just 1.5mm thick and less than 4 pounds, this 100 percent natural rubber mat folds and rolls easily for compact storage in your bag or suitcase. During our sessions, we experienced no grip issues on carpeted, vinyl or concrete surfaces, allowing us to change poses confidently without fear of scrunches or slips. The only thing missing is a carrying strap, but with how neatly this mat folds, we’re stretching for a critique.
- Sustainably-minded and responsibly made
- Comes in a variety of colors
- Pricier than some conventional mats
- Can be prone to peeling over extended use
Jade Yoga’s best-selling mats are as ubiquitous in yoga classes as Lululemon shorts (in fact, you’ve probably rented one of these at a local studio). That’s because they’re known for their superior grip — the mat’s “open-cell” design means the porous material soaks up sweat and any other moisture as you flow. The brand is also known for their commitment to sustainability: the mats are made from natural rubber, a renewable resource; produced in the U.S., in compliance with all U.S. environmental, labor and consumer protection laws; and contain no PVC, EVA or other synthetic rubber. Plus, for every mat sold, Jade plants a tree through their partnership with Trees for the Future.
- Clean-cut edges designed to not fray
- Elastic strap keeps folded profile secure
- Not ideal for those with sensitive joints
- Less grip on carpeted surfaces
Lululemon’s travel mat is 2mm thick, an ideal option for yogis who really want to feel rooted in the ground. Made from sustainably-sourced rubber and microfiber, this travel-ready pick provides sufficient grip on concrete and hardwood floors. Clean-cut edges help protect the Carry Onwards from fraying, a common problem as the sessions begin to stack up. A convenient elastic strap is attached to the profile to ensure your folded mat doesn’t come undone as well. Thin mats might not be for everyone, but for those wanting that grounded vibe, the Carry Onwards is an excellent choice.
- Helps to guide your practice when you can't make it to a studio
- Natural rubber is more sustainable compared to other materials
- Less cushioning than other mats
There’s no way to get all the body benefits of yoga if you’re not nailing the right form. Liforme’s yoga mat helps you stay centered — literally — with smart markings that point out where your hands, feet and center should be for proper positioning. (The marks are etched right into the surface of the mat, so they’ll be there as long as you are.) This mat is on the slimmer end of the spectrum at 4.2mm, but there’s an extra felt portion sandwiched between the natural rubber layers that provides additional support and stability. And at nearly 73 inches long, there’s plenty of room for you to deepen those lunges.
- 100 percent sustainable cork for excellent grip
- 85-inch length accommodates even the tallest yogis
- Moisture can pool from time to time
- Ends can curl if not broken in
Cork is naturally antimicrobial, preventing bacteria, mold and mildew from growing on your yoga mat, and it even tends to repel dirt, hair and dust. It also gives great grip — the more moisture the natural surface absorbs, the stickier it gets. 42 Birds’ extra-long Robin combines all these properties in an extended 85-inch profile that’s great for lengthier users. We had no issue staying on the mat throughout our practices, and the 5mm dense foam provided just the right amount of comfort. It takes a little to break in — the edges stayed curled due to storage — but once the cork is used, you have before you a quality, grippy, stink-free mat that’s ready to go time after time.