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Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for Your Practice

by Team ELSI April 05, 2018

Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for Your Practice

Are you looking for a mat that is comfortable, long-lasting and affordable? Have you just started yoga and want a beginners mat? Perhaps you are looking for the perfect non-slip mat for hot classes?

My hope is that this guide will help you in you research for the perfect mat. 

Like with any other purchase, I believe it’s important to understand what factors are most important to you when shopping for a new yoga mat.

Below are some questions to ask yourself:

What type of yoga classes do you typically attend? 
Do you often attend yin, restorative and slow flow classes? Then you might want a slightly thicker mat. For hot yoga classes choose a non-slip mat, or be prepared to use a yoga towel with your mat. 

Do you want a heavy or light mat?
Do you walk or drive to your local studio? Do you have a home practice? Compare the weight of different mats. In my experience, high quality mats made with natural materials are a bit heavier. Of course, thickness also affects total weight. If you travel often I recommend getting a separate travel mat, such as the Manduka eKO SuperLite Travel Yoga and Pilates Mat

Do you have a preference in terms of material/texture?
If you prefer an eco friendly mat, look for a mat made of rubber or other eco friendly materials. These mats should be free from Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) & phthalates. Perhaps anti-slip is most important to you? Then look for a mat made to meet this specific criterion. 

What size mat do you want?
There are extra long and extra wide mats on the market. The most common standard measure is 68"L x 24"W. You can find extra long mats at 71"L and 74”L (such as my personal favorite - the Jade Harmony Yoga Mat) and extra wide mats at 26’’W (such as the Gaiam Athletic Yoga Series dynaMAT Xtra-Large Mat)

What’s your budget?
Most mats cost between $15-$150. The price is often related to the materials used. PVC mats tend to be cheaper while natural materials such as rubber and brands using innovative toxic-free materials add to the price. 

Do you have any other specific needs?
The most common thickness range between 4-5mm. Do you have sensitive joints, eg. sensitive knees or wrists? Try looking for a thicker mat (more than 5mm thick) or be prepared to use a blanket with your mat for extra padding. 

This is a selection of mats that meet some or several criteria mentioned above:

ELSI- Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for Your Practice

Picture via Amazon

Best mat for the dedicated yogi
Jade Harmony Yoga Mat

Jade mats are made sustainably with natural rubber tapped from rubber trees, a renewable resource that contains no PVC, EVA, or other synthetic rubber.

Their most popular mat, the Jade Harmony, provides great traction and cushion while still offering stability for standing poses.

Price: $ 74.95
Thickness: 4.7mm
Weight: 5 lbs
Material: Natural rubber

Pros: Jade mats provide a superior level of traction, making them one of the best gripping mats on the market. Perfect for Hatha and Vinyasa yoga classes.

Cons: Slightly heavier than other mats. 

Bonus: Jade plants a tree for every mat sold.

Best mat for hot yoga
GAIAM Studio Select Dry Grip Yoga Mat

This is the best selling mat by GAIAM designed for a non-slip grip. The GAIAM Studio Select Dry Grip Yoga Mat is created with a topcoat that promises to wick away moisture and to provide a better grip as temperature in class rises. With 5mm of cushioning, it’s also soft on your joints. Manufactured free of the top six most harmful phthalates, this mat is a healthier choice for both you and the planet.

Price: $59.99
Thickness: 5mm
Weight: 4.25lbs
Material: PVC. Free of latex, rubber and six different phthalates. See website for details. 

Pros: Designed for hot yoga, Vinyasa and sweaty classes. Lightweight and durable. 

Cons: Some customers complain about the strong smell on purchase. Gaiam recommends to unroll and air out the mat for 2-3 days before first use. 

Bonus: Each purchase comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Best mat for extra comfort
Manduka PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat

The Manduka PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat has been designed for extra comfort and a long wearability. It’s an ultra-dense and spacious performance yoga mat that has unmatched comfort and cushioning.

Price: $102.00
Thickness: 6mm
Weight:  7.5 lbs
Material: Eco-certified PVC. Non-toxic, emissions-free manufacturing, 100% latex free. 

Pros: High-density cushion for full support and joint protection. Excellent for restorative and slower paced yoga classes.

Cons: A bit more expensive and on the heavy side comparing to other mats on the market.

Bonus: Manduka also sells some super lightweight travel mats! 

ELSI-Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for Your Practice

Best budget choice
Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat

Durable and chic, Gaiam Print Premium Reversible Yoga Mats provide a stable, sticky non-slip surface for your yoga practice. Perfect for home or studio use, this mat ensures the safety and comfort you need to enhance proper alignment and maintain poses.

Price: $24.99
Thickness: 5mm
Weight: 2.49lbs
Material: PVC mat free of phthalates

Pros: A lightweight, budget friendly choice. Many stylish prints to choose from. 

Cons: According to Gaiam their printed mats release a very strong but harmless odor when first unwrapped. They recommend to unroll and air out the mat for 2-3 days before using. 

Bonus: If you order via Amazon you get a s free yoga workout for download

Best sustainable choice
PrAna E.C.O. Yoga Mat

The Prana E.C.O. yoga mat is constructed from 100% thermoplastic elastomer. The recyclable mat is UV-resistant, lightweight, PVC and Chloride free. It’s closed cell construction prevents germs from absorbing into the mat. 

Price: $47.95
Thickness: 5mm
Weight: 2.2 lbs
Material: 100% Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE)

Pros: Extremely lightweight and uses non-toxic materials.

Cons: In the reviews some customers complain about the durability of the mat.  

Bonus: Check out Prana for eco-friendly yoga wear!

ELSI-Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for Your Practice

Picture via Lifeorme

Best mat for the PRO
The Lifeorme Yoga Mat

This is a mat for the professional who is looking for the extra. 

Liforme’s yoga mat features the unique AlignForMe system to intelligently guide yogis of all shapes and sizes and help them to practice in better alignment. The mat is longer and wider giving yogis the space they crave, and with perfect balance between firm stability and comfortable cushioning.

Price: $149.95
Thickness: 4.2 mm
Weight: 5.5 lbs
Material: Natural rubber and eco-polyurethane

Pros: Designed for a superior grip with a rubber base but a cushioned top surface. Also the lines marking your alignment are pretty unique.  

Cons: The price point. 

Bonus: Comes with a yoga mat bag and booklet with care instructions.

 

 

I hope you find this guide helpful, whether you’re shopping for your first mat or an upgrade. This guide includes some of the most popular mats on the market right now and are all worth checking out. With yoga growing so fast in popularity around the world, it feels like new brands are emerging every day!

Personally, I’ve been practicing on a Jade Harmony mat for several years now and I’m so used to the texture and grip that any other mat feels a bit weird to me. Sometimes you have to test a few different mats to find which one work best for you. In my experience as a teacher and student, at smaller yoga studios they often have rental mats available from a mix of brands. This can be a great opportunity to try out different mats. Just remember that a mat that’s been used for years won’t feel the same as a brand new mat. If you practice consistently a few days a week I recommend upgrading your mat every 2-3 years.

Good luck in your search, happy practicing and feel free to comment below with your questions!

By Karin Karlsson, Certified Yoga Teacher & Wellness Specialist at ELSI BEAUTY

ELSI-Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for Your Practice

Me on my beloved Jade Yoga Mat

 

*Please note that the prices and details specified above might have changed since the date of publication. Please refer to each seller for most updated information. 



Team ELSI
Team ELSI

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