Which Really is the Best Yoga Mat?
With a Scaravelli Inspired Yoga Retreat coming up at Easter as well as weekly classes in the area, there is no excuse not wake up your body from it's winter slumber. To prepare ourselves we've teamed up with our friends at reviews.com to bring you the latest research in which yoga mat is best for you and your practice, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned yogi.
How We Found the Best Yoga Mat
There are almost as many yoga mats out there as there are yogis: From cheap, no-brand Amazon deals to big-name fancy mats costing upwards of a Ben Franklin, it’s easy to get overwhelmed while searching for the right mat for you. While the perfect mat for you is fundamentally a matter of personal preference, yoga instructors and experienced yogis agree that a high-quality mat should be grippy, comfortable, and easy to maintain.
We wanted to see how the most popular mats compare, so we sought out mats that people were most excited about — from old favorites like the Manduka PRO to newer releases like the Alo Yoga Warrior Mat. We sifted through numerous “best-of”, “bestselling”, and “top-rated” lists, reached out to over 30 yoga instructors for their opinions, and dug into requests and queries from our yoga-loving readers. We wanted our finalists to represent a range of materials, price points, and needs.
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We looked for versatile mats that were grippy, comfortable, and easy to maintain.
Next, we brought in all 16 contenders to hand-test in our office, homes, and yoga classes. Over several weeks, we put them through beginner’s yoga, rigorous Bikram hot yoga, and everything in between to see what would hold up regardless of sweat, sensitive joints, or hard surfaces. To find the best, we focused on comparing the following aspects of each mat:
Grippiness: No slipping and sliding during downward dog
Thailand-certified yoga instructor and founder of The Bali Bead, Lillian Daniels told us, “Many mats have various features, but you want to pay attention to whether you will be able to grip the surface.” The best mats should provide enough grip so that you feel stable while holding poses, and have enough traction on the floor so that your mat won’t slip out from underneath you.
The “grippiness” of a mat has two parts: One is how grippy the mat is against your hands and feet — are you slowly sliding out of place during warrior pose, or are you solidly planted? The other is the traction of the mat against the floor: Does your mat slip around on smooth floors, or is it firmly stuck in place throughout your session? Some otherwise-grippy mats may turn into slip n’ slides with sweat. If you’re going to be sweating during your sessions, especially if you’re doing something highly intensive like hot yoga, you want to make sure your mat will stay grippy through it all. Otherwise, you risk falling or having to constantly readjust your position.
Comfort: Enough support for sensitive joints
Thicker mats aren’t necessarily more comfortable mats. A good yoga mat should walk the line between being squishy enough to take some of the pressure off your joints, while being dense enough to offer a stable foundation while balancing. Too-soft mats may be comfortable, but difficult to hold a pose on — while you can stand on a too-firm mat forever, you may end up hurting your joints.
Generally speaking, beginners should start out with thicker mats since they don’t yet have the strength to support themselves. But the exact thickness of your favorite mat is up to personal preference: Yogis who travel a lot may prefer thinner mats that are easier to roll up and carry. Pregnant yogis and people with sensitive joints may find it more comfortable to practice on something thicker.
The thick, dense Jade Fusion Mat is perfect for people who need more cushioning support, while the minimal Liforme Travel Mat is better for very experienced yogis or frequent travellers.
Maintenance: Easy to wipe down and keep in good shape
We wanted to make sure our top picks would be easy to clean and durable (no mid-session mat shrapnel here!). We found that more porous, open-cell mat surfaces tended to be grippier, but were also harder to clean — they tend to absorb everything, like a giant sponge. Smooth, closed-cell surfaces tend to be easier to clean, but may be more slippery. The sweet spot is a mat that’s just grippy enough, but doesn’t also grip onto dirt and debris.
Smoother materials like the polyurethane leather top of the Alo Yoga Warrior Mat are easy to wipe down for quick cleanup, while more porous materials like that of the Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Mat and Yoloha Native Mat are harder to clean as thoroughly.
Portability: Fast and simple to take from place to place on a walk, in a car, or on the bus
The grippiest, most comfortable mat in the world is still a pain if you’re constantly struggling to lug it to and from class. But because this varies from person to person, we didn’t consider it a deal-breaker — we just noted mats that were especially handy to take on our commutes (as well as those that were more difficult to carry around). All else considered, mats got bonus points for traveling lightly, or coming with convenient carrying straps and/or cases that made life a little easier.
From light stretching to intense hot yoga, the Liforme's material offers superior grip in any situation. The unique alignment markings will help even the most experienced yogi perfect their form, too.
Best Thick Mat
Its ultra-cushiony layer of thick, grippy rubber protects you from hard floors. It's bulkier than the Liforme, but it’s a fair tradeoff if you have sensitive joints.
Best Travel Mat
This thinner, shorter sibling of the original Liforme is even more compact. It isn’t as comfortable as our other top picks, but it is just as grippy and low-maintenance.
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