Yoga mats are probably the most important piece of equipment you need if you want to start practicing Yoga. These yoga mats provide you with cushioning and grip, making it easier for you to perform certain poses. However, there are many different kinds, meaning it can be difficult to know what the best yoga mat is for you.
In this article, we will explore the history of Yoga mats, different kinds of yoga mats, and what the best Yoga mat for you may be.
What is a Yoga Mat?
While we have all seen Yoga Mats, you might not be aware of some of the history and details of these mats. These mats are designed to allow you to practice Yoga as safely and effectively as possible.
Let’s start with some of the history surrounding Yoga Mats. An interesting fact is that Yoga Mats are actually quite a modern invention. In the past, most Yogis would practice on the ground, with only a piece of clothing or animal hide added if the ground was especially rough.
It was only in the 1980s that modern Yoga Mats were conceived of. Angela Farmer, when teaching in Germany, designed and created the first modern Yoga Mat.
Different Kinds of Yoga Mats
As mentioned previously, many different varieties of Yoga mats have been invented since the 1980s. Today, you are spoilt for choice. As such, we will only focus on some of the most popular kinds of Yoga mats for this article.
The most important feature of all mats is the material they are made from, as this will determine the weight, grip, and other vital factors.
Sticky mats are likely the most popular Yoga mats in the world. There are good reasons for this. Sticky mats provide excellent grip and are also easy to carry. Many travel mats are sticky mats for this reason.
Cotton mats are excellent for environmentally conscious yogis. These mats are completely natural and have several other advantages. Cotton mats are comfortable and usually thicker than the average mat, making them ideal for practicing on hard surfaces. However, you need to clean these mats frequently, as they are liable to absorb sweat.
Cork mats are another great choice for all sorts of Yogis. Cork mats are, while easy to carry, solid and take plenty of punishment. Cork mats are also entirely natural, making them another good option for Yogis with environmental concerns.
Plastic mats are a more recent invention. These mats do have some downsides. In particular, they can start to fall apart if not properly cared for and make a mess. Even so, plastic mats have several advantages; they are relatively affordable, provide a solid grip, and can be manufactured in an environmentally friendly way.
How to Choose the Best Yoga Mat for You
There are several factors you should keep in mind when choosing a Yoga mat. You might use a Yoga mat daily or just when traveling. As such, before you buy any mat, keep a few of these characteristics in mind.
How long should yoga mat be? The average Yoga mat is around 68-72 inches tall and 24 inches wide. This size means that the average Yoga mat is best suited for people less than 5’8″ tall. If you are taller, you may need to get a longer mat. Additionally, some men may need a wider mat to account for their broader shoulders.
The material of your mat is important. As discussed previously, different materials are better for certain practices. For example, if you practice Hot Yoga, you should get a mat with plenty of grip, like a sticky mat. On the other hand, if you travel to your yoga class, a mat made from a lightweight material, such as cork, might be ideal.
If you plan on using a particular mat a lot, getting it in your favorite color might be worth doing. As well as this, more brightly colored ones might be easier to find if you have many mats. Even so, this is not the most critical thing to consider when buying a Yoga mat.
Yoga mats come in a wide variety of shapes. If you are getting bored and need something new, purchasing a mat with a different shape might be what you need. Mats can be circles, squares, and even more specialized shapes.
The thickness of your mat is vital. If you purchase a mat that is too thin, you may find practicing Yoga uncomfortable or even painful. If you don’t know how thick your mat should be, start with the one that is at least an eighth of an inch thick. If you practice Yoga for therapeutic purposes, you should consider purchasing a thicker mat.
Here is a good video that gives you some tips on how to buy your first yoga mat.
15 Best Yoga Mats
As you can see, based on all the factors we have discussed previously, there are many things to consider before purchasing your first Yoga mat. With this in mind, we will provide you with a list of just some of the best available on the market today to help you make an informed decision.
The JadeYoga Level One is perfect for new Yogis. Made from natural rubber, this mat provides excellent stability and is very environmentally friendly. At only $50, it is also affordable, and perfect for someone who just wants to try Yoga. However, the smell of rubber from this mat can be intense after you initially purchase it. You should get this mat if you or somebody you know is interested in trying Yoga but don’t want to break the bank with a more expensive mat.
The Lifeforme Yoga Mat comes with many fantastic features, especially for new Yogis. The many alignment markers on this mat make sure that you can position yourself in a way that is comfortable, dramatically improving your practice. This mat is also larger than the standard mat, making it perfect for all Yogis, regardless of size. However, this mat can cost over $140, making it one of the most expensive on this list.
If you are looking for a beautiful travel mat, then the Combo Yoga Mat from Yoga Design Labs is something you should consider getting. Available in a variety of designs and thicknesses, this mat is perfect for Yogis that are on the go. On the other hand, this mat is thin, with the thickest option available being 5.5mm. If you require extra cushioning, this mat may not be for you.
Rumi is one of the most reputable mat manufacturers in the industry, and the Sun Yoga Mat is one of their best products. Made entirely from natural materials, this mat provides excellent support and grip. This mat is also fantastic for the environment – you can throw it away once you are finished with it, as the mat will dissolve when exposed to nature due to its natural materials. However, given this fact, you need to store this mat in a near-ideal environment to avoid any issues.
This is one of the most unique Yoga mats on this list. If you like to practice Yoga at home and need plenty of space, then the CAMBICO Large Yoga mat is exactly what you need. At 183cm x 122cm, this mat is ideal for a Yoga or other exercise room. However, this mat is thin, with a thickness of only 6mm. If you like a mat with more support, this mat might not be for you.
Lululemon is famous across the world for the quality of its Yoga products. The Take Form Yoga Mat is no exception, providing excellent grip and comfort. This mat is also available in many colors, all of which look fantastic. However, this mat is only available in one size (66cm x 180cm), meaning that it might be too small for larger Yogis.
This mat consists of both a traditional Yoga mat and a towel. By bonding these two pieces together, Aurorae has produced a mat that is perfect for Bikram and other forms of Hot Yoga. The only issue with this Yoga mat is that, due to the amount of sweat it will absorb, it is liable to smell. Therefore, you should only get this mat if you are willing to wash it (by hand) frequently.
The Gruper mat is excellent for larger Yogis. This mat is both thicker and larger than a traditional mat, making it a much more comfortable mat. However, as expected due to its thickness, this mat is heavy. This mat weighs over a kilogram. If you want a travel mat, then look elsewhere, as this mat is designed for other purposes.
If you travel a lot or are looking for a lighter mat, this Travel Yoga Mat from Jade Yoga might fit your needs. Made in the USA, this mat is resilient and designed to tolerate long travels. At only $62, this mat is also affordable compared to other travel mats. However, this mat may not be suitable for larger Yogis given its lightweight and relative thinness.
If you prefer a more natural option, then this Cork Yoga Mat from Gaiam is worth looking into. Available for less than $50, this mat is affordable for Yogis on a budget. This mat is also incredibly lightweight, owing to its cork construction. However, cork comes with a strong odor – you will need to wash this mat a few times before using it if you don’t want to deal with this smell.
If the grip is important to you when purchasing a yoga mat, then the IUGA Pro Non-Slip Yoga Mat might be just what you need. These mats, available in a wide variety of colors, are excellent for hard and sweaty sessions as you can be sure that you will be able to keep your footing. IUGA mats are also odorless, unlike many natural mats, meaning you can use them right out of the box. However, this mat can start to smell after months of use, so make sure to take care and wash this mat frequently if you do buy it.
The Chakra Warrior Mat, available from Alo, is another rubber mat perfect for Hot Yoga. Made from natural rubber and with a water-resistant surface, this mat will help you keep your grip, even in the sweatiest classes. However, this mat is expensive, costing $120 at a minimum. This mat is best for someone interested in exploring Hot Yoga and knows they will stick with it for a long time.
If you need some extra support when practicing Yoga, then this thicker mat from Bionix might be what you need. This mat is 10mm thick, giving extra support for more taxing poses. Bionix is also well known for the aesthetic beauty of its mats, and this one is no different. However, given this mat’s spongy feel, some Yogis may not find this mat to their taste.
14. KAYMAN Yoga Mat
If you need an affordable and highly cushioned yoga mat, then the KAYMAN Yoga Mat is an excellent option. This mat is extra thick and, with a price of less than 30 dollars, very affordable compared to other cushioned mats. While this mat has many advantages, it is made from artificial foam, which can be an issue for Yogis that prefer a more natural material such as cork.
If you are a dedicated Yogi looking for the best of the best, then the Manduka PRO Yoga Mat is worth a look. This mat is large and dense, making it ideal for long and tough sessions. This mat also comes in several colors, making it customizable for your tastes. However, there are two distinct disadvantages to this mat. Firstly, this mat is costly and can easily cost over $300. Secondly, this mat is heavy, weighing between 7.5 and 9 lbs. If you can see past these issues, then this might be the perfect mat for you.
How to Store and Care for Your Yoga Mats
If you want to keep your Yoga mats for a long time, you need to know how to take care of them. While most Yoga mats are quite resilient, they will break down due to years of wear and tear. However, you can delay this process by following a few simple steps:
- Keep it clean. Dirt and grime can quickly make your mat unusable. Therefore, keeping your Yoga mat clean is essential if you want to use it for a long time. Gently wash your mat frequently and consistently (at least once a week) to avoid any dirt building upon the mat.
- Roll up your mat. Rolling up your Yoga mat is a simple way to improve its longevity. It also makes your mat easier to store. Doing so also prevents your mat from being damaged and creased if you travel with it frequently.
- Avoid lots of water. You should not soak your mat in too much water. While it is important for your comfort to keep it clean, if you saturate it with water, then your Yoga mat is liable to break down. The best way to wash your Yoga mat is by hand, using warm water and soap.
- Proper storage. If you throw your mat wherever don’t be surprised when it starts to fall apart the next time you use it. Store your mat in a cool, dry location, protected from direct sunlight. Also, avoid keeping your mat in your car for extended periods, as the heat can harm the mat.
- Avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight and the UV rays that come with it can damage your yoga mat. Natural materials, such as rubber, are particularly susceptible to fading and other damage.
Here is a good video with some tips on how to take care of your mats.
As you can see from the list above, there are many different kinds of yoga mats to suit all needs. Whether you need a light mat for traveling or a thicker mat for extra support, there are many options available to fulfill your needs. Make sure to keep your needs in mind when buying a mat, and we are sure you will find one that will bring you many years of joy.
If you know of any better yoga mats that we have missed, make sure to let us know in the comments section.