The 7 Best Yoga Mats, According to Yoga Teachers

No matter your skill level, whether beginner or advanced, the right yoga mat makes a big impact on your practice.

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Updated on December 07, 2023

Experts' Top Yoga Mat Recommendations

Whether heading into a favorite in-person class, pulling up an online virtual class or creating your own practice, for dedicated yogis, prioritizing yoga is essential for mental and physical well-being. To get the most out of your practice, seasoned practitioners know that having the right mat that's designed for your skill level and the type of classes you're taking can make all the difference.

How to Choose the Right Yoga Mat

A few things to keep in mind when starting your search. If you sweat a lot or are doing heated classes, the grip is very important so you can hold your poses without slipping or sliding. On the other hand, if protecting your joints is your number one goal, look for a mat with extra cushion and support. Need a portable mat? Consider the mat's weight since it can range from two to six pounds. And lastly, if you have a latex sensitivity, select a mat that is rubber- and latex-free.

Ready to find your perfect mat? We chatted with five yoga teachers for their top recommendations. Ahead, find the best yoga mats, including budget-friendly options, hot yoga-ready selections, mats for traveling and instructional mats for beginners. Get ready to perfect your downward dog.

All five of the yoga teachers we talked to recommended the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat above all else — especially for folks who are committed to a regular (if not daily) yoga practice.

Richmond, VA-based yoga teacher Robbie Norris, founder of Richmond City Yoga, goes so far as to say that the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat turned out to be the best yoga equipment purchase he ever made, as it’s the only mat he’ll use to this day. After using budget-friendly mats he found at T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s for the first few years of practice, he discovered that the material didn’t hold up well after just a few months of daily use. That’s a big part of why he was (and continues to be) so drawn to Manduka (which even then, in 2005, was the most popular yoga mat brand on the market). Plus, the brand offers a lifetime guarantee.

Beyond the lifetime guarantee, Robbie enjoys the density of the mat, which makes practicing on hard ground — whether it be the concrete floors at his studio in Jackson Ward or the rough rocks at the James River Pony Pasture — more comfortable. “With cheaper mats, you can feel the often uneven surface beneath the mat, whereas the Manduka mat cushions you from the small underlying irregularities,” he explains.

One thing to keep in mind, though: All that dense cushioning makes for a heavier mat (7.5 pounds, to be exact), so you have to be willing to tote it around (unless, of course, you’re using it at home) to reap its rewards.

All in all, Robbie says you can’t go wrong with the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat. “These days I always recommend the Manduka Pro to any student who intends to have a regular longstanding practice,” Robbie says, noting that he suggests a quick pick from Marshall’s or T.J. Maxx for those merely dabbling. “They cost around $140 now and are totally worth the money.”

(If you love the idea of a Manduka Pro mat but are hoping for something a bit more portable, Katelyn Hissong, yoga instructor and founder of the Elevate with Kate app, suggests the Manduka Pro Lite Yoga Mat, $82. “I love the textured top layer for a non-slip grip,” she says.)

Poetry-prone yoga teacher, Victoria Hutchins (AKA The Daily Victorian), reveals that her mat of choice is the Liforme Radiant Sun Yoga Mat. “In addition to being lightweight and grippy, Liforme mats have alignment cues printed on them that help with hand and foot placement in poses like downward-facing dog and warrior II.” Another characteristic she loves about the mat? “Liforme is a certified B-corporation, meaning it meets high social impact and environmental sustainability standards,” she points out. “They [also] support a lot of non-profit organizations I love like GLAAD and Yoga Gives Back.” While the mats tend to be a bit pricier, she says that these qualities make it well worth the investment in her book. Practitioner Silene Vega Delgado, a yoga lover and the co-founder and co-owner of Kalon Surf, a Costa Rican surf camp and yoga retreat, agrees. “The Liforme Yoga Mat is very well made,” she says. “The grip is awesome [and] I like the alignment markers — they can be very helpful in proper positioning, as well as improving your overall yoga game.”

Victoria and Katelyn are also fans of Lululemon's The Mat 5mm, which is sold in six colors and is specifically designed to absorb sweat and moisture, ensuring a steady practice even in the hottest studios. “In my opinion, Lululemon’s mats are some of the grippiest out there,” Victoria says. “I think they are great mats for practitioners who take heated, in-studio classes that get really sweaty.” Meanwhile, both Katelyn and Victoria love that it’s reversible.

Another highlight of the mat? It has an antimicrobial additive to help prevent mildew. That said, even antimicrobial mats need to be cleaned regularly. (More on that in a bit.)

Bala is a brand renowned for its chic ankle and wrist weights, but it now offers a variety of other fitness items, too, including a yoga mat. In addition to the grippy nature of the natural rubber mat, Katelyn loves the chic silhouette and trendy color options. “It’s something different,” she says.

Not only are JadeYoga products known for their excellent level of comfort and traction, but they're also one of the most sustainable options on the market. In addition to being made in the United States from natural rubber, every mat purchased gives back to the earth with a planted tree. Their Harmony mat is made with open-cell natural rubber, which provides an ideal grip for holding long poses and flowing through an energetic practice. That’s why many practitioners are drawn to the brand.

“JadeYoga is one of my students’ favorite mat brands,” Victoria reveals, specifically applauding the Harmony Yoga Mat. “JadeYoga also sells grass and cotton mats (Handwoven Dharba Grass Mat; Organic Cotton Mysore Yoga Rug) made by local artisans in India, and a portion of the profits support local initiatives.”

Victoria isn’t the only teacher to love JadeYoga mats, though. Katelyn swears by them, too. “These have been my go-to for over 15 years,” she says. “I love that their mats are eco-friendly and non-toxic.”

As helpful as placement cues are when first beginning a yoga practice, a thick, cushy mat is also beneficial as your palms and soles get accustomed to sustaining your weight on the mat. That’s why Silene suggests the Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat, which touts a whopping 29,000+ 5-star reviews on Amazon, for beginners, as well as those who are budget-conscious. “I like the thickness of this mat — which is wonderful for those that are in their beginning stages of yoga — that it’s easy to carry around, and that the price is very accessible.”

Robbie also suggests Gaiam mats for their affordable prices. “From 2001 to 2004, I used inexpensive mats ($10 to $12) from Marshall’s or T.J.Max, both for my own practice and for my private students,” he shares. While he used many affordable mats from these retailers over the years, he admits that Gaiam is the only brand that stood out.

Looking for a yoga mat that’s easy to carry and store? Katelyn suggests the Stakt Yoga Mat. “I love that it’s foldable and so cushiony,” she says. “This way you can easily travel with it and take an Elevate with Kate yoga class anytime, anywhere.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best material for a yoga mat?

Like so many things, the best yoga mat material can be subjective, as it’s all about how you feel on it. “There are a wide variety of mats constructed of various materials,” says Richmond, VA-based yoga teacher and percussionist Brad Ellsworth of Druminyasa, a small business with the goal of “bringing rhythm to the heart of yoga.” “Most importantly, your mat should feel good [under] your feet like a great pair of shoes. Most manufacturers use PVC, synthetics, and/or rubber to construct their mats, while other manufacturers, like Yoloha Yoga, construct their mats using biodegradable cork. In India, some used to (and still do) practice yoga on small rugs on marble floors.” With this in mind, Brad says to see which kind of mat feels best for you. (An easy way to do this is to shop for your mat in person so that you can feel the different materials to gauge their grip and overall comfort.) “If you enjoy being outside in nature, grass can be the most grounding and sustainable yoga mat for your practice,” he adds.

What thickness for a yoga mat is best?

There is no one set thickness standard for yoga mats — again, it all boils down to how it feels for you. “The thicker the mat, (typically) the softer it will feel due to more cushioning,” Silene says. “However, a thicker mat could make for slightly less balance (compare it to doing yoga on a bed mattress…).” With this in mind, she says to find what feels best to you and stick with it.

If you’re looking for a set guideline to get you started, though, Katelyn reveals that she loves a 4mm mat, while Robbie prefers a 6mm Manduka Pro. “I think it's important to have a mat that is dense and about a quarter inch thick,” he says. “The worst kind of mats I see are about an inch thick, made of very lightweight squishy foam. These are only bought by people who have never practiced yoga [nor] inquired with anyone who does before [making] their purchase — bless them for trying to arrive prepared!”

What is the best way to clean a yoga mat?

Knowing how to clean your yoga mat is essential for its longevity. “All yoga mats require regular cleaning [even if they claim to be antimicrobial],” Brad says. “Proper hygiene is not only imperative but good etiquette for your fellow yoga practitioners and yoga teachers who might be offering hands-on assists.”

According to Brad and Robbie, who both teach at RCY, a DIY solution of 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 hydrogen peroxide plus a dash of essential oils (tea tree oil, lavender oil, and peppermint oil) does the trick. Simply mix it up and spritz your mat after each use.

“You may also deep clean your mat at least once a year with warm water and dish soap and hang out to dry in the sun,” Brad adds.

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