Follow the guide below to help you find the perfect mat for your practice.
Your yoga mat needs to keep you stable in your poses; be storable and portable, yet comfy and cushy. You may also want your mat to be environmentally friendly. These aspects of your mat's personality are all affected by how the mat is made: how thick it is, what it's made of, and its surface texture.
Use this guide to help you find a yoga mat you can be blissfully happy with — one that suits your practice, priorities, lifestyle, values, and budget.
The thickness of your yoga mat has a lot to do with how comfortable it is — too thin, and your knee may get banged up during crescent lunge. The tradeoff is that thick yoga mats (some as thick as 1/4 inch) can make it harder for you to feel a strong connection to the floor, making you more wobbly in Tree Pose, for example.
Options: A standard yoga mat is about 1/8 inch thick, while the thickest are about 1/4 inch. There are also wafer-thin yoga mats, often billed as “travel yoga mats,” that are a mere 1/16 inch thick. They fold easily and don’t weigh much, making them a cinch to fit in a suitcase.
Basic buying guide: Consider how much room you have to stow your yoga mat, how important portability is, and where your sweet spot is on comfort versus being able to feel a direct connection to the floor. If you're short on storage space, have a long schlep to the studio, and like the feel of just a little padding, opt for a standard-depth mat, in the 1/8 inch range.
If you don’t mind carrying and storing a little more heft for the sake of more cushioning, consider a premium yoga mat that's about 1/4 inch thick. And if you absolutely must be able to pack your yoga mat in a suitcase or carry-on, get yourself a foldable travel yoga mat in the 1/16 inch range.
The material your yoga mat is made of dictates its texture, stickiness, eco-friendliness, and sponginess (how much it yields to pressure), and how it wears over time.
Options: Most standard yoga mats are made of PVC, otherwise known as vinyl. Newer, more earth-friendly options include natural and recycled rubber, jute, and organic cotton or natural cotton (which means the fabric is not treated with synthetic finishes during manufacturing).
Basic buying guidelines: If you're allergic to latex, avoid yoga mats made of natural rubber. If you want to stick with the tried and true sticky mat, choose a yoga mat made out of PVC, which can endure your use and abuse for more than a decade. Sponginess can vary widely with different blends of materials, but in general, PVC has the most "give" of any yoga mat material; jute and cotton have the least.
Beyond these fundamentals, read on and let your other priorities — texture, stickiness, and eco-friendliness — be your guides.
Once you've narrowed your choices down by thickness, material, texture, stickiness, eco-friendliness, and price, there's only one factor left: style! So go ahead and pick your favorite color, pattern, or print. After all, you'll be seeing a lot of it in downward dog.