What's the Best Yoga Mat for You?

Comparing Yoga Mats
Jamie Grill/Photodisc/Getty Images

Which yoga mat is The Best? As with many superlatives, the answer isn't the same for everyone. Are you concerned about natural materials, green business practices, and biodegradability? As a commuter, do you need a lighter mat? Are you sensitive to the slightest odor? Do you want a mat that will last a good long time? Is cost your biggest issue? What about traction or softness?

Every yogi has different preferences, needs, and priorities, but luckily there are a wealth of choices. We've narrowed it down to the top 5, by chosen by virtue of their popularity. You may be able to fulfill all your dreams with one mat or you may have to make some compromises. The comparison chart below lays out the key features so that you can easily decide which one is going to work the best for you. In addition, you can use the links below to find more in-depth reviews of the mats.

The Contenders

  • Gaiam Yoga Essentials Mat
    This mat provides our baseline. It is probably the most commonly used mat for beginners. It is readily available at big box stores and supermarkets. It is also very economically priced. If you've ever borrowed a mat at the gym or yoga studio, then you've most likely tried this mat. If you've ever owned one, then you've probably discovered that they don't last very long. Given that they're made from PVC, a material that doesn't degrade naturally, this is a big problem for the environment.
    Buy Gaiam Premium Mats on Amazon.com
  • Liforme Yoga Mat
    A supportive mat with an excellent practice surface, great traction and absorption, and a unique graphic that supports good alignment. Our Q&A with Liforme founder James Armitage reveals the lengths this company goes to in order to make their mat ethically and in an environmentally responsible way. 
    Buy Liforme Mats on Amazon.com
  • Jade Harmony Mat
    The original natural rubber yoga mat continues to be very popular. It's anti-slip, made from a renewable resource, and pretty durable. Jade mats have a very loyal and devoted clientele but it's a good idea to try one out before you commit because the rubber surface is not to everyone's liking.

    Buy Jade Harmony Mats on Amazon.com

  • Lululemon The Reversible Mat (5mm)
    The Mat's layered construction offers nice traction and absorption for sweaty practices. It's also reversible, so you can flip between the rubber and polyurethane sides. Most people prefer the polyurethane, which has a satiny finish and is the softer of the two. 
  • Manduka Black Mat PRO
    An extremely durable mat that has long been favored by yoga enthusiasts and comes with a lifetime guarantee. If you're used to the lightweight PVC mat, the Manduka feels a bit different, even though it's made from the same material. It's harder, denser, and much less pliable. It's also the heaviest mat under consideration, coming in at 7 pounds. 
    Buy Manduka PRO Mats on Amazon.com
 GaiamLiformeJade HarmonyLululemon
The Mat
Manduka PRO
MaterialPVCpolyurethane, rubberrubberpolyurethane, rubber, latexPVC
Weightlight (2.2 lbs)mid (5.5 lbs)mid (5 lbs)mid (5.24 lbs)heavy (7 pounds)
Length68"73"68" or 74"71"71" or 85"
Odornoslight (rubber)yes (rubber)slight (rubber)no

Choosing the Right Mat

If you're still undecided, reading up a bit more on the differences in yoga mat materials may help tip the balance. Trying each kind of mat is extremely helpful but pretty hard to accomplish since it's difficult to find a store where you can roll out a bunch of different mats. Almost every student in a yoga class is going to have a mat and an opinion, so talk to your neighbors and you might get a chance to touch their favorite mat before you commit.

Was this page helpful?