In the end, my top choices were pretty easy to grip. There is no perfect yoga mat, and no single mat fits everyone. If you’re looking for the best yoga mat that will support your asanas and be your new place to call OM for a lifetime, the Manduka PROlite is the way to go. It gets my top pick because its durability and versatility are unmatched. However, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, the Jade Harmony Professional Mat is made of 100 percent rubber, and offers great traction and support.
With over 50 hours of research on dozens of yoga mats, I focused on the properties and composition of the mat and how this applies to the various styles of yoga. I surveyed the masses, consulted with over 10 yoga professionals with years of experience on mats, and personally put many mats through hours of testing.
The process was sweaty, and reconfirmed that choosing a yoga mat is akin to choosing your wine — some get better with age, and it all comes down to personal taste. To help find the best yoga mat for you, I’ve also recommended top picks for specific formats, some of which include my top choices and others which do not.
The 10 Overall Best Yoga Mats
Jade Harmony Professional Mat
Manduka Black Mat Pro
Hugger Mugger Para Rubber
PrAna Revolutionary Sticky Mat
Gaiam Print Premium
Liforme Yoga Mat
Yoloha Native Cork Yoga Mat
How We Chose the Best Yoga Mats
My yoga mats aren’t pampered, and they’re used in a variety of styles. One week, I’m traveling to practice yoga in Mexico, and the next, I’m instructing 50 students outdoors on the beach or in a park in New England. I consistently practice a vigorous vinyasa both in and out of a hot room, and teach a gentler flow to athletes who are new to the practice.
There are a number of important features across the board that make some yoga mats better than others, and these factors are useful to take into consideration before purchasing your own. In total, I spent over 50 hours analyzing yoga mat reviews, scouring online publications, and researching the technology, history, brands, and the various qualities of top yoga mats. I drew from previous experience and surveyed over 100 yoga professionals, teachers, and students (of all levels and practicing styles) to get an idea of what people look for most.
I consulted with 10 yoga professionals, including “Boston’s 2014 Best Yoga Instructor” Sadhana Studio Owner, Glen Cunningham, who has been savasana-ing on a mat for over 15 years; Orange County’s Core Power Yoga manager and instructor Lacey Calvert; and international yoga teacher Goldie Graham. I also tapped popular blogger, YouTuber, and traveling yogi Candace Moore, as well as Rasamaya Studio owner and yoga instructor, Carrie Tyler, who is a 20-year veteran of teaching movement.
An initial 30 products were taken into consideration after analyzing reviews from Amazon, REI, and Yoga Consumer Reports. I also consulted some 50 publications (like PopSugar Fitness, Mind Body Green, and Outdoor Magazine) and popular yoga blogs (like Ekhart Yoga, Yoga Journal, and DoYouYoga). I further narrowed the list down to 15 of the best yoga mats based on my criteria of positive reviews, experience, recognitions, and ultimately what other yogi consumers had to say. This strategy helped me get to a manageable number of top products so I could physically test each myself.
I took the research to different studios and tested the mats in temperatures both over 100 and below 85 degrees Fahrenheit. I also tested on a carpet, on a hardwood floor, and in the comforts of my own home. I received feedback from fellow yoga students, and for a week, observed how the top mats appeared and were performing for others in class. Then, it was time for me to get on all the top yoga mats and put them each through a standard 60-minute yoga class. I used the mats in two different formats, restorative and vigorous, and in both heated and unheated conditions. I continued to test the mats at home through various poses and practices. (Tough work, but hey — someone has to do it!)
In my survey talking to other yoga teachers and students, responses demonstrated that the drawbacks to current mats were heaviness, difficulty in cleaning, poor traction, and a short lifespan. The data also proved that the majority of people desire stickiness and comfort. So with the intention to find the best yoga mats for the masses, I focused on a mat’s ability to provide the right amount of traction, density, comfort, and stability. Other criteria that came into play were weight, size, eco-footprint, and color assortment. I also wanted to make sure I factored in price, even though most buyers said they were willing to pay up for the aforementioned qualities.
Other Yoga Mats to Consider
he Best Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat
This is a favorite among yoga professionals everywhere because of its great balance of traction and support. It’s made from all-natural rubber, making it environmentally friendly. As a bonus, JadeYoga also plants a tree for every mat that’s purchased.
The Best Budget-Friendly Yoga Mat
It’s important to invest in a reliable mat, but if you are unsure of making that investment just yet, try the Gaiam Print Premium. It retails for under $30 and is backed with a lifetime warranty. It comes in an array of fun colors and prints, too.
Best Non-Slip Yoga Mat
My new favorite mat for hot yoga, with a non-slip surface that requires no breaking-in period and performs well no matter how much you sweat. At $140, it’s on the pricy side, but it offers traction unsurpassed by any of the other mats I tested.
Most Low-Maintenance Yoga Mat
The Yoloha Native is made from a mixture of recycled rubber and cork, resulting in a pleasantly springy surface that’s naturally antimicrobial. Cork gets grippier as it gets wet, making the Yoloha another good option for hot yoga.
A Full Review of the Best Yoga Mats
Manduka PROlite: Best Overall
If you want a mat to last you a lifetime, and can also tick the boxes for grip, portability, and comfort, the Manduka PROlite is the way to go. This mat beat out its category contenders for longevity by a landslide. It’s an extremely durable, high-performing mat that’s stamped with a lifetime guarantee. Yoga teachers everywhere (including myself) agree that the Manduka PROlite gets better with age the more you use it, similar to a baseball glove. I’ll get upside-down to that.
The PVC material and density of the mat make it competent under any condition — outdoors, in a heated room, in a non-heated studio, and with gentle-to-vigorous practices — which can’t be said for the majority of the mats tested here. I took this mat through a multitude of restorative and standing poses, sun salutations, arm balances, and inversions.
I’m not the only one who ranks this mat at the top of the list. Boston’s 2014 Best Yoga Instructor and Owner of Sadhana Studio, Cunningham, has been using the Manduka Pro series mats for 14 years.
I’ve been using Manduka mats since 2001 and I still think they make the best overall mats out there in terms for grip, comfort, thickness, feel, size, and durability. I’ve been teaching for over 15 years and see a lot of ‘mat shrapnel’ on the studio floor, but I’ve never seen a Manduka Mat get worn out.
In asanas that tend to be slightly harder on the knees, like Ustrasana (camel pose) and Anjaneyasana (low lunge), this mat provides just the right amount of support and cushion to feel ease and comfort throughout the pose, even when held for long periods of time. The mat also provides stabilization and joint protection during asanas that require more stability, balance, and impact (think: Tree pose, handstand, and jumping back to chaturangas). At the same time, it won’t compromise the ability to feel stable and connected to the ground.
As far as texture, grip, and comfort go, I give this mat two thumbs up. The slip-resistant traction kept fidgeting to a minimum. The surface, which isn’t super sticky, allowed for gliding transitions through quick vinyasas. The transition to take my foot into or out from a lunge felt effortless compared to when catching or sticking on mats made from a different textile (like some of the natural rubber mats did).
Other than the first couple of uses during the “break-in period,” the manual labor for this mat is practically nonexistent. Its closed-cell technology makes it incredibly easy to clean and wipe down after class, and with a weight of around four pounds, it’s light and easy to carry. The mat comes in an assortment of colors and in two different sizes (71 and 79 inches) to accommodate style preference as well as the taller yogis out there. It’s fairly pricey for a yoga mat, but with a lifetime warranty, it provides outstanding value.
Manduka PROlite is always my go-to. It’s easy to travel with, stays good for years, and [is] easy to clean since I’m a sweaty mess! I don’t always use a towel because I don’t need one with this mat. It’s awesome!
Don’t just take my word for it, though. Based on research, and many conversations with other yoga practitioners, the Manduka company is considered the holy grail of yoga-mat brands. It continuously tops the charts in reviews. The Manduka PROlite series is a lighter, more portable version of the beloved Manduka Black Mat Pro, which has been on the market for 15 years. The PROlite mat receives accolades from a number of magazines and popular publications. It was voted the Top Pick Award by OutdoorGearLab, voted a “must have” by Yogi Approved, and is sold and used by the most popular yoga studios across Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles.
CorePower Yoga Orange County’s regional manager, Calvert, says the Manduka PROlite is her favorite, and it’s the one the company carries in its studios all across the United States.
We see over 500 clients a week using our Manduka mats for barre and yoga. I teach on them and take class with them, and I have no complaints — they are super durable. We used to have Jade, but switched to Manduka because they are better performing overall.
Barre & Soul Studios, found in several locations around the Boston area, provides the Manduka PRO series mats to its members for use in class.
Manduka instructs consumers to scrub the mat down with coarse sea salt prior to using, which helps to remove a thin layer that is applied in the manufacturing process. Wearing this down actually helps improve the mat’s traction with continued use. This process may be a little more labor-intensive than you’d prefer, but there’s something comforting about having a mat get better with time and form to you. Cunningham likens the breaking-in process of the mat to that of a new baseball glove: You break it in and then it fits “like a glove.”
Who should skip it?
Although some people, like Calvert, find the mat to grip fantastically with moisture, some evidence points to a few issues. In an email from the company, Manduka implies the mat does require a breaking-in period (although this is not always the case for everyone), meaning it could feel quite slippery for several uses until it has seen some action.
The traction for the Manduka PROlite is best used under dry conditions with minimal moisture, so ultra-sweaty practices and those done in a heated room may not benefit from this mat without the use of a towel on top of it. I recommend the Liforme Yoga Mat for these conditions.
In terms of eco-friendliness, the mat is made with PVC rather than natural rubber or another more environmentally friendly material. However, no toxic emissions are released during production, and its lifetime durability results in fewer landfill dumps, still making it a safe choice for the environment overall. If you are concerned with practicing on a mat that is made from eco-friendly material that’s still high performance, my recommendation is the Jade Harmony Professional (a top pick tested here).
The Runners-Up for the Best Yoga Mats
Don’t dismiss these mats just because they didn’t make my top pick. Like I’ve stated, yoga mats, like yoga, are not created equal and preference is unique to the individual’s style. Depending on what you’re looking for, these mats could be better suited for you.
Jade Harmony Professional Mat
About half of the yoga instructors I interviewed suggested the Jade Harmony as their favorite yoga mat, and it made an appearance as a top pick on just about every review publication I read. The Jade Harmony offers a sturdy grip with open-cell technology and a texture to provide great performance overall. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and is a fantastic alternative for those looking for a 100 percent natural rubber, eco-friendly mat.
This mat puts up a good fight against the top contenders, but the natural rubber makes it more apt to degrade under certain conditions (like heat and sunlight) and doesn’t include a lifetime guarantee. In my experience, the Jade Harmony does wear down rather quickly with consistent use, and needs to be replaced more frequently than with other top contenders. To sustain use, it should not be used or left out in direct sunlight. This mat’s open-cell technology means it retains sweat (good for gripping, but bad for bacteria) and oils, making it more difficult to clean.
Warning: Those with a latex allergy should not use the Jade Harmony Professional Mat.
Manduka Black Mat Pro
Known as the ruler of all yoga mats, this is a mat that appeared as a top pick in research and throughout conversation. Except for width and density (it’s wider and thicker), it’s virtually the same as its little brother, the Manduka PROlite. However, with its weight of seven to nine pounds, and a heftier pricetag, the PROlite is more appealing overall. If you are looking for a heftier rendition of the Manduka PROlite, and aren’t concerned with trekking some extra pounds to class, this mat could be for you.
Hugger Mugger Para Rubber
It’s grippy and I found it to provide more cushion than fellow eco-friendly mat, the Jade Harmony. The texture, however, made transitions on the mat a little more difficult for me. As far as durability goes, I was seeing signs of wear (albeit small) within the first week of use.
PrAna Revolutionary Sticky Mat
This mat is firm and not too spongy. But at nine pounds, it’s not only the heaviest, but also the biggest mat tested here. I just couldn’t justify trekking it back and forth from a studio or rolling it out anywhere but at home. However, consumer reviews suggested that taller and wider people benefit greatly from the added length and width of this mat.
I love this company’s eco initiatives, and its unique recycled tire material provides the mat with undeniable grip. However, this mat didn’t pass the durability test since there was a small rip within first use.
This mat has comfort down, but staying put…not so much. It was a little too lightweight for my practice and moved around on a hardwood floor. It also didn’t lay completely flat on the ground, which can be a hassle when moving in and out of poses. It is a more affordable, eco-friendly, and latex-free mat, which makes it a better choice for those looking for these specific needs.
Gaiam Print Premium
For a budget-friendly mat, this isn’t a bad pick. In my opinion, and all the professionals I interviewed agree with me, it’s definitely worth investing in a quality mat for added comfort, injury prevention, and improving your practice. For these reasons it is difficult for me to recommend one.
The Liforme: Best Non-Slip Yoga Mat
Yoga classes done in a heated studio are popular today (and let’s face it, many of us continuously perspire holding Warrior II), so I wanted to find a mat that would provide the best stick under super-sweaty conditions without having to rely on the use of a towel. Enter the Liforme Yoga Mat. The mat has attracted plenty of notice on social media thanks to its distinct visual appearance, with alignment markers etched directly onto its surface.
As a yoga teacher, what I most love about the Liforme yoga mat is it’s unique alignment system that self-teaches the practitioner proper alignment. As a student, I love the incredible grip and traction, and how it’s equally great for high-intensity, hot, and restorative yoga.
Liforme offers a grippy surface that was unmatched by any other brand I tested (although Yoloha, below, came close). The mat has a natural rubber base, topped with a layer of polyurethane, a material that’s very good at absorbing sweat — hence the no-slip grip. No breaking-in period was necessary. I got perfect traction straight out of the box and never felt like I was in danger of falling. The mat itself also stayed put, even on a slick hardwood floor.
The Liforme is 4.2mm thick, offering a middle-of-the-road balance between no give at all and feeling like you’re practicing your asanas on a Tempurpedic. It’s a couple of inches longer and wider than the Manduka PROlite, and while I appreciated the extra room, it does mean the mat is on the heavier side, at 5.5 pounds versus the Manduka PROlite’s 4.6. At $140, the Liforme is also an investment — but if hot yoga and heavy sweating are part of your weekly routine, it’s one worth considering.
Who should skip it?
James Armitage, Liforme’s creator has said the mat is only intended to withstand 300 to 500 sessions. You can keep using it beyond this point, but the material may lose its grip. Depending on how frequently you practice, this could mean replacing your mat every year or two, which gets pricey. (Though to be fair, I’ve found many mats need replacing after a couple of years.) To prolong its life, the Liforme shouldn’t be stored in direct sunlight — its materials are biodegradable, and prolonged sun exposure can cause them to break down more quickly.
The Liforme also stains pretty easily. After resting my head in Child’s Pose, I noticed marks where my face had been, and the manufacturer cautions against using the Liforme directly after applying body creams or massage oils. I also found it to have an odd scent straight out of the box — an almost fishy smell. It began to fade by the second time I used it, so this probably isn’t a deal-breaker unless you have a very sensitive nose.
The Yoloha Native: Most Low-Maintenance Yoga Mat
Like the Lifeforme, the Yoloha Native Yoga Mat has a non-stick surface designed to accommodate hot yoga and lots of sweating. But this mat gets its non-slip powers from a surface of cork and recycled rubber. A little unusual, yes, but cork is naturally antimicrobial, helping to minimize odor and kill the bacteria attracted to your sweat.
Despite being 6mm thick, the Yoloha Native is also more lightweight than the Liforme (4 pounds, versus Liforme’s 5.5), making it easier to roll up and take with you. It comes with a carrying strap made of natural fibers, which I found a little uncomfortable — I’d probably spring for a case if I used the mat regularly, but the strap does have a minimalistic appeal.
The Native performs very similarly to the Liforme, providing plenty of support through a variety of poses. Because it’s made of rubber and cork, however, the texture is slightly more tacky, which can take some getting used to. Cork becomes more grippy as it gets wet, so if you don’t sweat much but still want a rock-solid grip, you might consider misting the mat with water before you start.
I also appreciated Yoloha’s commitment to being eco-friendly. Cork is a renewable resource in the truest sense of the word: the bark can be harvested every 3-5 years without harming the tree. My mat was also shipped with minimal (and totally recyclable) packaging, and the company included a plantable pear seed with my order.
Who should skip it?
Cork is naturally prone to cracking over time, and while the company says this shouldn’t affect the mat’s performance, it’s something to take into consideration if you’re concerned about aesthetics. You can use regular household glue to fill in the cracks if you’re bothered by them, but it’s admittedly an extra step.
As with the Liforme, some people have also noted that Yoloha mats begin to lose their grippiness after a year or two of regular use. And at $140, the Yoloha is an investment on par with the Liforme and might be out of reach for those on tight budgets.
Credits to: http://www.reviews.com/best-yoga-mat/