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There’s good reason yoga is a wellness “do” for many people: Stress-relief, mind-body connection, flexibility and strengthening the core are just some of the benefits. It’s no wonder that 36 million people say they practice yoga, according to a 2016 study published in the Yoga Journal.
And while making the most of the activity is first and foremost about you showing up, having a mat that provides enough cushioning, is the right size, and isn’t too slippery can definitely help, too.
Know that when it comes to picking a mat, there’s a lot of variety out there. Some are lightweight and convenient to transport, while others are heavier with thicker padding to provide more support for your joints. And a newer crop of mats is making it easier to sweat it out in more cardio-focused classes sans towel, as some can be washed in a gentle cycle.
Here are a few good factors to consider when shelling out for a new mat:
- Durability Some materials tend to wear out quicker than others, meaning you’ll need to replace them more often (read: an extra cost). Natural rubber tends to make a more long-lasting mat.
- Slip Make sure a mat stays put even through more vigorous exercise. Slip-resistant natural rubber mats can be especially good at helping you avoid slipping mid-pose and keep your balance.
- Thickness Some mats are extra-thick to make yoga poses easier on knee and other joints.
- Feel How your skin feels on the mat can vary based on material. PVC or foam mats can feel stickier when clean and have a smooth surface, while cotton or rubber mats can feel more textured and “grippy” on the skin.
Not sure which mat is best for your favorite flow? From picks for power yoga to great options for traditional hatha, here are mats that will have you saying Namaste.
B Yoga B Mat Everyday
At just 4 pounds, the B Yoga B Mat Everyday is easy to tote on a daily basis. Bonus: B Yoga’s mat costs about $20 less than similar quality mats. And with colors like charcoal, saffron, and ocean green, you can find some Zen without sacrificing style.
The Achy Joint Fix
Aurorae Classic Extra Thick
No one likes to go through a flow with aching joints. Aurorae’s ultra-thick option is 6mm or just over 1/4”, which makes doing poses on knees and hips less painful (without impacting balance). And you won’t need to worry about post-yoga smells — the all-purpose mat is made from resin, which means it won't absorb odor.
The Germ Repeller
Gaiam Cork Yoga Mat
If you thought cork was just useful when it comes to plugging wine bottles, think again. This lightweight, antimicrobial cork is Gaiam’s newest offering, providing a firm solid surface that’s dense yet perfect for even the most challenging balancing poses. The cork is sticky enough that you won’t slip during even the sweatiest power yoga class.
Hot Yoga Perfection
Yoga Design Lab Combo Mat
Imagine not toting a sweat-wicking towel to your heated workout. It’s now possible. The towel-meets-mat hybrid uses printed microfiber top layer on one side to properly absorb sweat and dry quickly. It’s totally washable and the bright geometric designs are a total pick-me-up.
Jade Travel Yoga Mat
The brand’s eco-friendly mats (a tree is planted for every mat sold) have appeared in stylish yoga studios across the country for years. But the travel version of the sturdy (and totally sustainable) mat truly deserves the buzz. Jade’s travel version offers a slightly thinner and smaller mat to put your yoga practice in jetsetter mode without sacrificing quality.
For the Pilates and Yoga Lover
If you alternate between yoga or pilates, Manduka’s sturdy mat can be the perfect fit. The mat’s closed-cell construction keeps sweat from seeping in during your Vinyasa, but the fabric-like surface finish allows for optimal movement between poses. The mat’s dot construction provides extra durability, and it’s backed by a lifetime guarantee.
The Reversible Mat
Lululemon Reversible Mat 5mm
The mat’s two sides can make it your go-to for nearly any type of yoga practice. One side has a stickier feel, which helps your limbs stay put throughout a pose or allows for a smooth surface during a more restorative yoga session; the other side is a more textured mat that provides more “grip” for a hotter sweatier practice. No matter which size you choose, the thicker mat is easy on achy limbs and durable enough for everyday use.
The High Performer
Yellow Willow Yoga Mat in Azalea
This Aussie brand not only has bold designs and luxe prints, but clocks high marks on quality too. The top layer is micro-suede that’s made from recycled plastic bottles. The mat uses biodegradable tree rubber to offer that perfect grip, which makes it a must for heated classes.
The Alignment Dilemma
Vagabond Goods Cosmica Yoga Mat
There’s an easy trick to help with alignment during your sun salutations — a carefully printed yoga mat. The geometric pattern helps you figure out where to place your hands and feet during traditional Hatha or Vinyasa practices. A non-absorbent easily wipeable surface makes it a breeze to clean.