Top 5: The Ideal Yoga Mat

When I started practicing yoga, I quickly realized the importance of THE MAT. People use their yoga mats to make statements in class, and it varies from studio to studio. At my primary studio, Mandukas are the most common mats, paired with expressive Yogitoes. At others I’ve visited, hardly anyone brings their own mat, opting for the studio-provided worn, 2mm-thick mats. So what makes the perfect yoga mat? Length? Cushioning? Grip? Price?

But the key elements for me when it comes to choosing a great mat are:

  • price – I’m willing to spend big bucks, but I want to know it’s worth it, too
  • grip – because Yogitoes can’t always keep me in place
  • cushion – some studios have hard floors. Save your feet and your ankles.
  • length – I like to stretch out in savasana, and not into my neighbor’s sweat puddle
  • color – Who doesn’t want a mat to brighten their day?
  • weight – I never thought about how heavy a mat should be until I started carting around some heavier ones. It’s not fun.

Based on that criteria, below is my ranking of favorite yoga mats.

 

  1. B Yoga

    Hands down, one of the best yoga mats I’ve ever used in all categories ranked. B Yoga is a newer organization out of Canada, and the founder originally worked with specialty rubbers for carpet padding.  I can make it through a hot yoga class without slipping (like, the kind of hot where you can feel the sweat cascading). I clean it regularly, and it doesn’t need time to *regain* grip, like my Lululemon mat. But my favorite things? It’s longer than other mats on average (71 inches vs the standard 68 of other companies) and it’s SO cushy but SO light. I have the Everyday, and it’s loads lighter than my Manduka or Lululemon.

    Price:  $$ 
    Grip: **** Outstanding. 
    Cushion: ** Decent. 
    Length: ****
    Color/Design: *** Vibrant.

    Weight: **** Minimal. 

  2. Lululemon

    I bought my Big Lululemon mat on sale, so I shouldn’t complain too much about the price, except to say that it is on the spendier side of mats. I loved it the first few times I used it, but it seemed to start to wear much faster than expected. Also? It’s heavy as f***. 

    Price: $$$
    Grip: **** 
    Cushion: ** 
    Length: ****
    Color/Design: ** A little on the muted side, except the pink. Holy pink.
    Weight: * * (7lbs!)

  3. Manduka

    When I started yoga, I thought I needed a Manduka and variety of Yogitoes to be taken seriously. Or that it was the key to being a better yogi. In reality? I use my Manduka at home, and rarely cart it to class with me.  I want less fuss in my practice, and remembering the Yogitoes/washing carefully/etc is just one more piece that I don’t want to deal with. Others might like the extra care, but I want something I can grab and go. 

    Price: $$$$
    Grip: * (Non-existent without a Yogitoes)
    Cushion: **** Excellent.
    Length: ** ** (standard=71 inches) 
    Color/Design: **
    (some variety in color, but Yogitoes are where you can express yourself)
    Weight: * Oh so heavy. Heavier than my Lululemon.

  4. Yeti

    I came across Yeti via Zulily and like a few of their designs. Honestly? I don’t think I would have purchased their mats otherwise. The designs are fun and their mats are 72 inches, which are great. But the material is a little too slippery for me, and the cushioning is too soft as well, which turns it into a mat that serves as my trunk back-up.

    Price: $$
    Grip: * 
    Cushion: ** (cushioned but without stability, so I sink in a little too much)
    Length: ****
    Color/Design: ****
    Weight: *

  5. C9

    I practiced yoga for almost 6 months on a cheap, c9 mat from Target. I finally tossed it because my heels were literally digging up flecks of it from chaturangas, weights in yoga sculpt, general use. But you know what? For the price, it was perfect for me until I knew I wanted to make a bigger investment.

    Price: $
    Grip:  * (wears quickly)
    Cushion: * 
    Length: ** (average, 58 inches)
    Color/Design: *
    Weight: **** 

When I started yoga, I bought into the mythos that having an expensive mat would make me a better yogi somehow. It would help me keep my balance better, allow me to jump more cleanly into chaturanga, help my warrior align, who knows. The truth, as I’ve come to see it, is that the perfect mat is also a bit of a myth. I’ve invested a few bucks in different mats to see which ones work for me, and the truth is, it depends. When I’m going to hot yoga, I want thick cushioning and a Yogitoes to keep it dry. If it’s yoga sculpt, I need grip more than anything. And for a classic Iyengar class? I want cushion because I know I will get sore on anything too thin.

So look into your own practice to see what you need to support you to do your best.

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