Find the Yoga Mat to Take Your Practice Up a Level

yoga mat

There’s a special connection you can have with your yoga mat, but finding the right one can be hard. Read through this review, by The Chopra Center, of seven mats to find the best one for you.

Yoga mats are the latest evolution of yoga’s 5,000-year journey. Not only do mats make the practice of yoga easier, the mat itself has come to symbolize the peace and tranquility which yogis experience when they step off of life’s merry-go-round and into the quiet of their own being. There is a special connection you have with your mat; you immediately begin to breathe more deeply just by setting foot on your sacred space.

Yet, finding the best yoga mat can be a daunting task. There are so many components to consider:

  • Thickness
  • Stickiness
  • Durability
  • Cushioning
  • Weight
  • Texture
  • Color
  • Design

There is no magic combination of these elements that creates the perfect yoga mat. The key is to identify the correct mat for your unique body, form of yoga, and style preferences.

After quizzing hundreds of students about their yoga mats and testing out some of the most popular ones on the market today, seven yoga mats made the cut for intensive testing. For two straight weeks, each yoga mat was “dated.” They went to every yoga class, enjoyed every car ride, endured the abuse of four children, took trips to parks, traveled on airplanes, and lived on the living room floor when not in use. These mats experienced hot, restorative, sculpt, vinyasa, and slow flow classes. They endured the heat of the scorching San Diego sun and the cold of the Alaska mountains. After two weeks, it became clear that each mat has its own personality and is best-suited for different styles of yoga.

If you are in the market for a new mat, begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  1.  What style of yoga do I practice the most (e.g., hot, gentle, flow)?
  2.  Do I prefer to feel the cushioning of my mat or the solid ground beneath it?
  3.  Does it matter to me what materials my mat is made of?
  4.  Do I prefer an average-sized or oversized mat?
  5.  How much am I willing to spend on my mat?
  6.  Do I prefer to keep my mat for the long haul or would I rather get a new mat every few years?

After answering these questions, review the list below and choose the mat that will work best for you. Any of these yoga mats is a good choice. Just keep in mind your needs, budget, style, and environmental preferences. Then find your match and have fun getting to know your new mat.

Gaiam Studio Select Longer Wider Dry-Grip

Thank you to Gaiam for creating the perfect dimensions for this mat. The length is long enough that you don’t come off the front or back edges when you transition between poses, and the width accommodates all body types. Yet, it’s not so long that you can’t fit in the middle row of a yoga class.

In addition to the perfect length, the mat itself is pretty perfect. It is soft underfoot, with a very strong grip. Similar to the Lululemon mat, the Gaiam Dry-Grip actually increases in grip strength as you sweat. The cushioning is excellent. It feels as comfortable as the thicker Manuka Pro, making it a good all-around choice from vinyasa and power classes to restorative and gentle flows. This mat is also free of latex and the six most harmful phthalates, allowing you to rest easier knowing that you are helping protect the environment. With a lifetime guarantee and a price point well under $100, you really can’t go wrong with this mat.

  • Dimensions: 78 in. x 26 in.
  • Thickness: 5 mm
  • Weight: 5 lbs
  • Warranty: Lifetime guarantee
  • Price: $74.98
  • Recommended for: All styles of yoga

Manuka PRO

The Manuka PRO Mat is consistently one of the top-rated yoga mats according to yoga experts all over the world. With a thickness of 6 mm, it is one of the thickest mats available. The dense cushioning is ideal for those with sensitive knees and wrists. With latex free, non-toxic materials, you can breathe a little deeper without having to think twice about what you are inhaling.

At 7.5 pounds, however, carrying this mat is like carrying a small child. Fortunately, if you like children, and have carried a lot of them, the weight will not be an issue. What could be an issue is the slipperiness of the mat when you sweat. Even after breaking the mat in with a salt scrub, it can still became way too slippery. But, it’s still easy to love this mat because it’s so comfortable. It’s a great option for restorative and gentle flow classes.

  •  Dimensions: 71 in. x 26 in. (certain colors are available in an 85-in. length)
  •  Thickness: 6 mm
  •  Weight: 7.5 lbs
  •  Warranty: Lifetime guarantee
  •  Price: $124
  •  Recommended for: Restorative and gentle flow

Lululemon Reversible Mat

The Lululemon reversible mat is nice in that it can accommodate two types of yoga. One side is smooth and slick, and increases its grip as you get sweaty. The other side has excellent grip without moisture, but tends to get a little slippery as you sweat. As such, this mat is well suited for vinyasa, sculpt, and power classes as it is for gentle and slow flows. Not bad for one mat!

The cushioning is nice and thick, though in comparison to other mats, the 5mm of density does not feel as supportive as some other brands. It may not be the best choice for restorative practices. There are two points of consideration with this mat: the first being the strong rubber smell, and the second is that this mat contains latex. If you are in any way sensitive to latex, this may not be the mat for you.

  • Dimensions: 71 in. x 26 in.
  • Thickness: 5 mm
  • Weight: 5.24 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Price: $68
  • Recommended for: Power, vinyasa, and sculpt

Jade Harmony

The Jade Harmony mat is a mat that will stick around. There is no question that it has grip. Though not necessarily soft underfoot, it will definitely help you maintain traction in even the warmest environments. Made of natural rubber, which is a renewable resource, this mat can even make you feel good about yourself for supporting the environment. The company plants a tree for every yoga mat sold.

This is a top pick for classes in which you perspire. There is nothing more frustrating that slipping throughout your yoga practice. The Harmony mat will alleviate that concern while keeping your body free from toxic chemicals and your conscience clear from environmental guilt. If you decide to purchase this mat, go ahead and spend the extra $5 to get the longer length. 68 inches is simply not long enough.

  • Dimensions: 68 in. x 24 in. (also available in a 74-in. length)
  • Thickness: 4.76 mm
  • Weight: 4.5 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Price: $74.95
  • Recommended for: Vinyasa, flow, and hot yoga

Manuka PROlite

A lighter, thinner version of the Manuka PRO, the Manuka PROlite still offers a dense, comfortable mat made from eco-friendly materials. Just like its heavier predecessor, this mat comes with a lifetime guarantee. Obviously, Manuka creates its mat to last. And that is a good thing as the break-in process can take quite some time. Even with the salt scrub method outlined on their website, the Manuka PROlite is going to take some time to break in. Depending on your usage, it could take months before the mat reaches its full stickiness potential. However, using it frequently may be easier than with the PRO if you are transporting it from car to studio and back again. It is comfortably portable.

If you like the feel of solidity beneath your feet, but still want a palpable degree of cushioning, the PROlite may be your match. As with the thicker version, slipping can become a problem when you get sweaty. If you are looking for an excellent quality mat under $100 to support your restorative or gentle flow practice, the Prolite is an excellent option.

  • Dimensions: 71 in. x 24 in. (also available in 79-in. length)
  • Thickness: 4.7 mm
  • Weight: 4 lbs
  • Warranty: Lifetime guarantee
  • Price: $80
  • Recommended for: Restorative and gentle flow

Jade Voyager

This will definitely not become your all-time favorite yoga mat, but it may become your favorite travel mat. It is so thin that it can actually fold up into a very small square and slide right into your suitcase. It is extremely grippy for such a little mat. However, it is the thinness that actually causes it to catch underfoot and wrinkle up. You can spend just as much time smoothing this mat out as practicing yoga.

Hardcore yogis would probably rather take their favorite mats with them when they travel. But if for some reason that is not an option, this mat is better than nothing. It is made from the same eco-friendly materials as all Jade mats.

  • Dimensions: 68 in. x 24 in.
  • Thickness: 1.6 mm
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Price: $34.95
  • Recommended for: Travel

Hugger Mugger Para Rubber

This mat is thick, dense, and heavy. The thickness and weight are similar to the Manuka Pro, though the feel is decidedly different. This mat has a strong grip and an unbeatable durability. You could practice every moment for the rest of your life and never wear it out. Think of a tire that is made to go 100,000 miles and you will get an idea of this mat. In fact, this mat is made of sustainable rubber, so it is a bit like a tire. The surface, however, is smooth. Even though the mat is thick, the density of the mat keeps it from having a soft supportive feel. It is not your best bet for sensitive knees and joints.

  • Dimensions: 70 in. x 24 in.
  • Thickness: 6 mm
  • Weight: 6.05 lbs
  • Warranty: 30 days
  • Price: $84.95
  • Recommended for: Vinyasa, power, and sculpt

Source: Yoga Mat Review: How to Find the Best Mat for Your Needs | The Chopra Center

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