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Yoga mats to elevate your practice

A yoga mat may not seem super complex, but there’s a lot to consider before buying one. Whether you’re returning to your local studio after a long hiatus or have gotten into the habit of practicing at home with a virtual class, you’ll need a reliable mat on hand. Too slippery and your downward dogs will feel hazardous, too grippy and you might find your mat coming with you when you jump forward during sun salutations. While all yoga mats look the same, there are some important factors to consider when shopping for the right mat for you and your practice: grip, cushion, material, and weight. Seasoned pros should look for mats on the grippier, more textured side to prevent slips. A thicker yoga mat will keep your joints protected and is better if you’re using yoga to ease into exercising post-injury; a thinner one offers balance and can be easier to maneuver between poses. If you are reading this and already feel overwhelmed… DON’T! I have tried many different mats in my 11 years of teaching and practicing and I am here to break them all down for you so you do not have to stress out when it comes time to buy your next mat. Yoga is all about the zen right?

1) Liforme:

We are starting this list out with one of my favorite mats. This mat provides the ultimate non-slip surface for your yoga practice The grip is rock solid even under extremely sweaty conditions, and the lines on the mat make a massive difference in helping you be intentional about hand and foot placement. These mats are PVC-free, biodegradable in 1-5 years in normal landfill conditions and made using high quality non-toxic materials. In addition, all of their mats are printed using a durable, non-toxic and eco-friendly ink and all packages come with zero plastic which is a huge bonus for my eco-friendly babes out there. This mat also has a unique and patented three-layer construction and quick drying CleanGrip Technology which stops sweat from making its way into the natural rubber base. The mat comes in several colors and there is even an option to create your own mat. The mat is also 4.2mm thick so you will have enough cushion while practicing so you can protect your joints which is always a huge plus. The only downside of this mat is the price. This mat runs between $140-$220 but I will say no matter where you are in your practice this mat is worth the investment.

2) Manduka:

Another top dog in the yoga mat game is Manduka. This is by far one of the most used studio mats on the market. This brand has several different mat options to fit whatever you might need to enhance your practice. Starting with their Pro series mats which comes with several different options including Maduka Pro which is 6mm thick, Manduka Prolite which is 4.7mm thick, Pro Kids which is 2.5mm thick and then their Pro XL which is 6mm thick and available in 78”x78” or 79”x52” for my tall folks. This line comes with ultra-dense cushioning and provides superior support, stability, and joint protection. Their closed-cell material seals out moisture and bacteria which makes this mat very easy to disinfect and clean. This mat is also manufactured using a process that ensures no toxic emissions are released into the atmosphere and certified standard 100 by OEKO-TEX to keep you safe from harmful substances. Next up we have Manduka’s Eko Series mats. This mat Is 5mm-1.5mm thick and provides a naturally grippy surface. Eco-friendly and biodegradable, this non-Amazon harvested tree rubber yoga mat that has no PVC or harmful plasticizers firmly supports both your practice and our planet. One thing to note on this one is that it does have a very weird smell that does not seem to go away even after cleaning and use. Lastly, we have Manduka’s GRP series mats. No matter how much you sweat, the GRP delivers supreme traction with no slip. This mats thickness is between 6mm-4mm and has a unique weave that allows moisture to quickly pass through and be absorbed into the interior foam layer noting a 2x greater absorption capacity compared to their competitors. It has a form rubber which provides a unique, springy feel and has a softer cushion which helps supports your joints during your practice. These mats can be a little on the pricey side but comes with a lifetime guarantee so you can have peace of mind when purchasing one of these mats. Prices range from $52 with the Eko Superlite travel upwards to $138 for the 6mm Manduka pro.

3) Yoloha:

This mat is different then what you typically think of when yoga mats comes to mind. This mat is made from cork that comes from the bark of oak trees which grow in Mediterranean Europe. When the cork is harvested the trees are not cut down, instead their bark is carefully stripped away by hand. In addition to the cork, Yoloha has combined sugarcane into their plant form and has achieved a yoga mat made with 70% renewable materials. If you’re looking for a truly sustainable yoga mat, Yoloha is your girl. This brand offers 4 different varieties of mats including Unity, Original, Nomad, and Aura so you will have plenty to choose from to fit your specific needs. The Unity mat was created to withstand intense sweating and vigorous practices. They blend natural cork and recycled rubber to provide a serious grip performance dry or wet, optimum durability and low environmental impact. This mat is 6.5mm thick, non-slip, easy to clean, 100% vegan, and there is no PVC’s, latex or plasticizers. The original mat is made from 70% renewable material and is high performing for any practice. This mat use a premium layer of extra thick cork for a grounded, non-slip experience dry or wet with no need for a towel. The mat is 6mm thick, lightweight, ideal for balance of comfort and support, easy to clean, and no PVC’s, latex, plasticizers or rubber smells. The Nomad mat is extra light at 4mm thick and ultra-versatile made from 70% renewable materials. A premium layer of eco-friendly cork provides a non-slip and antimicrobial surface that is easy to care for and maintain. A luxuriously dense plant based foam, free of PVC’s and latex gives added comfort and support. Finally, we have the Aura mat, which is 6mm, made from 70% renewable materials and has no PVC’s, latex, plasticizers, or rubber smells. This mat is grippy and has a naturally antimicrobial surface but should only be used for medium perspiration meaning this should not be your go-to for a hot yoga class. All of these mats come in beautiful designs and have a price range of $99 for the Aura mat to upwards of $149 for the Unity mats. While these mats might be on the pricier side, Yohola offers a try before you buy program where you can test out their products before committing a 100%.

4) Alo Yoga:

Here we have a mat that is roomy, perfectly cushioned for joint support, anti-odor, dry-wicking and slip-free, wet, or dry. This mat is 100% formaldehyde-free, non-toxic, and PVC-free, perfect for a clean practice and peaceful savasana. This mat gets rated by professionals as a top overall pick for its simple, high-quality design. The mat provides a strong grip out of the box, with no break-in period. The 5mm thickness grants enough support for the knees when holding poses like Lizard Pose or Frog pose for longer during a yin yoga practice. This mat is not light weighing just over 6 pounds which could cause challenges when traveling to studio for practice. It comes in a variety of colors but the lighter colors tend to show dirt easy, but no worries the mat is easy enough to clean! Some cons to take into consideration is this mat is around $128 and not as eco-friendly as other options on this list if that is your thing.

5) Gaiam:

If you’re looking for a low-commitment yoga mat, Gaiam mats are for you. These mats are going to be the least expensive on our list but that does not mean they do not have the same options or versatility as the other mats on this list. With prices ranging from $20-$80 there is a mat for everyone. These mats come in a variety of thickness from 2mm all the way to 10mm so you are able to customize the cushion you require in a mat. For materials you can choose from a wide range of options such as latex free, TPE, cork, or rubber. These mats are not as eco-friendly as the ones mentioned above and they also tend to pull apart with a lot of use.

6) Jade Yoga:

Jade Yoga Mat is another good eco-friendly mat option that is blowing up in the yoga market for very good reasons. One of the grippiest mats on the market, you can enjoy yoga no matter what style you practice and not worry about sliding around or falling. The thickness of the Jade Harmony mat is around 4.72mm think which is the perfect combination of squish without being too thick. These mats are offered in a wide variety of colors so you can customize your mat based on your personal preference. This company is extremely eco-friendly, and all their mats are made with renewable, sustainable resource- natural rubber. Jade mats contain no PVC or other synthetic rubbers. Jade Yoga also partners with Trees for the Future and plants a tree for every mat sold which I think is a great incentive to give back to the environment! A few cons are this mat is a bit on the heavy side which can make traveling with it a bit challenging. Also, be aware that stuff sticks to it, especially pet hair. If you are keeping up with regular cleaning of your mat this shouldn’t be a huge problem but worth mentioning.

7) Yoga Design Lab:

Yoga Design Lab is known for its beautiful and eco-friendly yoga mats, but are they good enough to buy? One of my favorite parts of these mats are the incredible grip it offers. Interestingly, most mats tend to lose grip once wet. And yet that is where the Yoga Design Lab combo mat differs. Once you start to sweat during your practice you will get to experience the superior grip this mat has to offer. Unfortunately, to experience this superior grip, you have to have wet/sweaty hands, or the grip is subpar. The reason is that the Yoga Design Lab combo mat comes with an ultra-absorbent microfiber top layer bonded to a natural rubber base layer. This means that dry hands will just slide off this microfiber layer. Another awesome feature of these mats are that they are eco-friendly and made using 15 plastic bottles in the recycled PET microfiber top layer. The base layer is made with sustainable, non-Amazonian natural tree rubber. The beautiful designs are printed with water-based inks and the mats are Phthalate, silicone, and toxin free. These mats are extremely easy to keep clean by either just wiping them down with a damp cloth after use or for more deep cleaning you can toss this mat in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. The thickness ranges from 1.5mm to 5.5mm meaning you can customize the mat you need to support your body during your practice. The price range is more on the affordable side ranging from $60-$95 per mat.

No matter what style of practice you do or whatever preferences you have there is a mat out there for you. In this list you can see some of the most popular mat brands on the market and their key features to help you choose which mat will best suit your lifestyle.

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