The best yoga mat of 2020
As any good yogi knows, if you want to spend quality time flowing through poses, you need to invest in a well-made yoga mat.
A yoga mat is designed to serve as a soft barrier between your body and the floor. Some yoga mats are ultra-thin to help you maintain balance in challenging poses, while others are thicker to provide a moderate amount of cushioning.
We've taken a closer look at popular materials and designs on the market to help you discover which yoga mat is best for your practice. In addition to a couple long-standing favorites, we're sharing a new pick from a much-loved brand.
Best yoga mat of 2020
1. Manduka's PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat: Our favorite pick earns the top spot yet again for its durable design that is also latex-free.
2. Clever Yoga's Nonslip Yoga Mat: This affordable option is constructed with high-density padding to prevent sore knees and elbows.
3. Gaiam's Premium Print Yoga Mat: We've added this yoga mat to the list for its textured design that promotes stability.
For full reviews of these products, scroll to the bottom.
What you need to know before purchasing a yoga mat
Yoga mats share the same basic, rectangular design; however, they vary considerably when it comes to materials and manufacturing.
The most common material for yoga mats is PVC for their affordability and durability. Unfortunately, they often contain phthalates and harmful chemicals. They're not recyclable, either. Rubber and foam mats are decent alternatives because they're durable, recyclable, and eco-friendly. Because they contain latex, though, they're not ideal for those with allergies.
Many practitioners prefer yoga mats made with more natural or sustainable materials, such as cotton or jute. Cotton is soft and biodegradable, but it's highly absorbent -- which means it might not be ideal for Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga. Jute is an ideal alternative to cotton since it's soft without being absorbent, though it's not considered a supportive material.
The texture of yoga mats deserves a careful examination as well. Many PVC, rubber, and foam mats are designed with grippy details that provide enough friction to prevent mats from sliding away as practitioners flow through poses. Some mats feature nonslip detail on their underside only, while others have dual-sided texture. It's recommended to invest in the latter if one is prone to sweating, especially for hot yoga or for outdoor practice in warm weather.
Because it affects overall stability and balance, it's imperative to compare thickness among yoga mats.
Thicker mats tend to be the softest and offer the most cushioning, particularly those with 1/4-inch thickness. They have considerable "give," which can be somewhat destabilizing. The thinnest yoga mats measure 1/16 to 1/8 inch. They allow practitioners to get a firm connection with the floor or ground. However, because they lack support and cushioning, thin mats are not ideal choices for individuals with joint issues.
Yoga mats cost between $15 to $200. Budget-friendly mats cost $30 and below, while midrange mats made with natural or sustainable materials cost $30 to $100. Premium yoga mats, often used by yoga instructors or advanced practitioners, can run as high as $200.
Q. Are all yoga mats the same size?
A. While the most common dimensions are 24 x 68 inches, length varies considerably. Some mats are as long as 72 to 84 inches. If you're unsure which mat length is right for you, it's recommended to choose one that is at least six inches longer than your height.
Q. My yoga mat is bulky and hard to tote. What's the best way to carry it?
A. Rather than rolling it beneath your arm, invest in a yoga mat strap or carry case. Straps loop around the ends and can be slung across your shoulders. Carry cases are either in the form of slender bags that house rolled mats, or regular gym bags with straps that hold rolled mats.
In-depth reviews for best yoga mats
Best of the best: Manduka's PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat
What we like: Sustainably made with emissions-free manufacturing. It's available in two lengths, 71 and 85 inches, to accommodate yogis of all sizes. Designed with a proprietary dot-pattern bottom to minimize slippage across floors.
What we dislike: Given its lofty price tag, this yoga mat is best suited for yoga instructors or advanced practitioners.
Best bang for your buck: Clever Yoga's Nonslip Yoga Mat
What we like: Best option if you need a mat on a budget but don't want to compromise on quality. Textured on both sides for added stability. Backed by a "Namaste" warranty that offers either a full replacement or money back.
What we dislike: Grip is moderate at best because slick floors and sweaty hands may cause the mat to slide.
Choice 3: Gaiam's Premium Print Yoga Mat
What we like: Incredibly well-made mat that withstands the test of time. Non-toxic PVC construction. Mat provides firm, cushioned support that softens contact with the floor without sacrificing stability.
What we dislike: Mat must be aired out prior to use to get rid of its industrial smell.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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