How to choose the right yoga mat

The questions to ask before buying your new exercise buddy

Whatever form of yoga you practice, whether you are a complete beginner or an advanced yogi, the one thing that will accompany on your entire journey is a good yoga mat.

But finding one is far from a simple task, as there’s a huge choice of mats, all boasting different features – and it’s easy to end up with a dud. 

Yoga matsCredit: Shutterstock / Prostock-studio
Choosing the right yoga mat makes a big difference

So when you’re starting out in yoga  what should you look for when choosing a yoga mat? We’ve delved into the variety of features, materials and styles, as well as talking to seasoned yoga experts, to find out what’s important and what is just pointless marketing spiel. 

Yoga instructor Nicky Webb says the choice of yoga mat is vital to making sure you have a positive, engaging experience as you start your flexible journey – and that it’s a truly worthwhile investment. 

“If you have a good mat, with good support, you don’t have to worry about your knees or hips being sore, or else fear that you might slip while in a posture. The right mat leaves you free to focus on yourself, the feeling you get from each posture and means you get to enjoy your practice.  

“The wrong mat could put you off yoga or even lead to injury. That’s why making the right choice is so important.”  

So, what can you do to avoid making an expensive mistake? There are a few questions you need to be asking before buying a mat to make sure you’re not just getting a good mat to exercise on, but also carry around and work in a variety of situations. 

yogi bear yoga matCredit:
Yoga instructor Nicky Webb

The vital questions to ask 


How grippy is the yoga mat?   

As a beginner you will want to ensure your mat feels super-grippy, so you feel as safe as possible in every posture and your downward dog doesn’t end up in disaster. If you are more advanced you may want less grip for faster, more flowing practices.  

How heavy is the yoga mat?  

If you are practising at home, then weight isn’t such an issue and a heavier weight will help keep your mat stable on a carpet. However, if you attend class then carrying a heavy mat could be an issue. Most weigh between 2-2.5kg, so if you have shoulder or back issues then look for one that’s lighter weight.  

What size yoga mat do you need? 

An average size yoga mat is 172cm long by 64cm wide. If you are tall or have a bigger build, then look for a wider or longer mat to give yourself more space to move freely. But if you are petite don’t assume a big mat is better as it will be heavier and bulkier to store. 

What is a good thickness for a yoga mat?  

An average yoga mat is 3mm thick and thick mats start at 5mm. Thicker mats give more support so are great for anyone who suffers from knee, back or wrist pain or is looking to practise slower forms such as Hatha, Restorative or Yin Yoga. However, thinner mats give more stability for dynamic moves in faster forms of yoga and for balancing postures.  

How much cleaning will the mat need?   

Some mats need cleaning after every session to avoid marks. To clean them use a fabric towel or cloth and dip it in a solution of mild soap and warm water (around one part soap to 20 parts water). Wring out your cloth and wipe the mat down gently, then leave to dry.  

Yoga matsCredit:
Yoga mats come in all colours, textures and sizes.

Do I need a smooth or textured mat?  

Another very personal choice. Beginners often like ridged or bumpy mats to help with grip, but as you get more experienced you may prefer a smooth finish to help you with faster movements.  

Do you want an eco-friendly mat? 

In yoga there are five Yamas, which are the moral and ethical guidelines that yogis strive to live by. One of them, Ahimsa, is the principle of non-violence in our relationships and our environment. Yoga mats used to be made of PVC which isn’t very planet friendly and didn’t allow true adherence to this way of being.

Shop around for more eco-friendly biodegradable mats, including rubber, jute, cork, recycled materials and even algae. The downside is that some eco-friendly mats may show signs of wear sooner than other materials. 

How much will I sweat? 

A bit of a personal question, but hugely important when choosing a mat. If you tend to sweat a lot or want to do Hot Yoga, then an ordinary mat could get slippery. Look for a natural rubber mat or one layered with a PU (polyurethane) coating. You could also invest in a yoga towel to bring to practice, but a grippy mat should be enough for most people.

How much can I afford to spend?

A yoga mat is an investment buy, but you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on a designer mat. Read our guide to the best yoga mats as there are some great mats out there at budget prices. But if you can afford to invest then a good quality mat will last you for years.

Yoga matCredit: Shutterstock/George Ruddy
A yoga mat can last for years

Yoga student Joyce Daly says choosing a mat isn’t just down to picking the right mat on paper. “Buying a mat is so personal. The size and cushioning are important but so is the colour of it, the look of it and how it feels to the touch.  

“An important consideration for me is how much a mat weighs. Coming to yoga is a social occasion for our group and we all go for a coffee afterwards. You don’t want a heavy mat if you must carry it to lessons and to the coffee shop afterwards.”  

“Remember, you are going to be spending a lot of time on that mat, so when you look at it, you want it to make you happy.” 

Most beginners want a combination of grip, cushioning and stability in a mat. To help you choose, we put the most popular brands to the test to find out which is the best yoga mat.  Our team of experts tested them in a variety of yoga postures in a class and at home so you know which one to buy – our favourites are listed below so you can choose which is right for you.

Yogi Bare Paws Natural Rubber Extreme Grip Yoga Mat

Editors Choice

A great quality grippy and comfortable mat which suits different abilities and forms of yoga.

The best all-round yoga mat – our choice

Core Balance Rubber Alignment Yoga Mat

Editors Choice

Great grip, smooth finish and quality feel but for less than half the price of its rivals.

Our favourite budget mat.

Liforme Yoga Mat


Biodegradable, comfortable and with alignment marks. Liforme is a popular mat for a reason. But it is also the most expensive mat in our test.

Expensive, but a smooth, good looking and comfortable mat

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her


Phillipa Cherryson is Exceptional’s Fitness Passions Channel Editor. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV.

Her passion is outdoor fitness. She’s an Ordnance Survey Champion; she organises walks, campouts and instructional activity days for South Wales members of online community the Adventure Queens; she’s vice chair of the Brecon Beacons National Park Local Access Forum and her partner is a long-serving member of the local mountain rescue team.

She hated sports at school and only started getting the fitness bug when she turned 50. Now she loves trail running, mountain walks, e-biking, climbing, surfing, paddleboarding and horse riding. She also loves cake.

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