One style of yoga does not fit all yogis, nor does one style of yoga mat. Just as some people prefer vinyasa flow to a more mellow hatha practice, some people like a thicker or longer yoga mat. Twenty years ago, there was only one basic mat option and it was made of PVC, a plastic material known for its stickiness and also for containing dangerous chemical additives. Today, there are countless options for alternative materials, like eco-friendly cotton or sustainably-sourced natural rubber. Choices also extend to various textures, lengths and of course colors and patterns. And thankfully there’s a mat to fit every budget.
According to San Francisco-based yoga instructor Sarah Ezrin, investing in your own mat rather than borrowing one from a studio is more hygienic, and what’s more, it can enhance your practice. “It’s like investing in your own home,” Ezrin says. “It’s where you’re going to have your yoga experience and if you’re not comfortable, it’s not going to be a good experience.”
While poor quality mats can develop pills (little round balls of abraded fibers) and lose traction, becoming slick underneath your hands and feet, a good mat should last — Ezrin has owned her current mat for 10 years. But that doesn’t mean you need to shell out big bucks. A dependable mat can be purchased for as little as $20, Ezrin says.
When it comes to mat care, her number one tip is using gentle cleaners. “A light spray with water and lavender essential oil after practice will do,” she says. “And depending on how sweaty your practice is, you should do a deep clean using a mix of lemon juice, water and salt every one to two months.” Here are her top picks for the best yoga mats on the market.
Best Overall Yoga Mat
Liforme Original Yoga Mat
“This mat really has it all,” says Ezrin. “It’s biodegradable, well-padded without being too thick and the smooth non-slip surface does not require breaking in nor does it break down.” The design isn’t just for looks. The lines actually serve as alignment markers to help ensure good form.
Best Thick Yoga Mat
Jade Yoga Fusion Mat
If you have sensitive joints, poses that require you to be on your hands and knees, like cat-cow, can be uncomfortable. A thicker mat can make all the difference. A standard yoga mat is 1/8 inch thick. Jade Yoga’s Fusion Mat is 5/16 inches thick, plus comes in two different lengths. Despite the extra cushion, the mat doesn’t feel bulky, says Ezrin.
Best Mat For Hot Yoga
B YOGA Strong 6mm B Mat
There’s nothing worse than slipping and sliding on a sweaty mat during a hot vinyasa flow class. “This mat was recommended to me by an owner of a hot yoga studio and it does not disappoint,” says Ezrin. A rubber, open-cell material prevents sweat from pooling and the grooved surface prevents slippage, says Ezrin.” It’s also cushioned enough to be supportive for strong practices,” she adds.