How to choose a yoga mat you’ll love and use for years

Whether it’s vinyasa, hatha or hot yoga: the expert advice on the best yoga mat for you

Whatever type of yoga you practice – whether it’s a flowing vinyasa, a gentle yin or circular mandala, the one thing you’ll need every time is a good yoga mat.

But whether you are just starting out with yoga for beginners or are more advanced in your practice, the choice of mats can be bewildering. There are different sizes, thicknesses, materials and prices.

To help you choose a yoga mat that’s best for you, we’ve got the expert advice on what’s available and how to make the right decision.

An older woman holding a yoga mat in front of an outdoor classCredit: Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia
Choosing the right yoga mat makes a big difference

Why choosing the right yoga mat is important

Yoga instructor Nicky Webb says choosing the right yoga mat is vital, whether you are a beginner or more experienced. 

“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,” she told us.

“The right mat leaves you free to focus on yourself, the feeling you get from each posture and also 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. 

An instructor doing a side bend on a yoga matCredit: Exceptional.com
Yoga instructor Nicky Webb

How to choose a yoga mat: key questions

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 (4.4-5.5lbs), 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 (67ins) long by 64cm (25ins) 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? 

The average yoga mat thickness is 3mm (0.1in). Thicker mats start at 5mm (0.2ins) and 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.  For more tips read our how to clean your yoga mat guide.

A pile of different colour yoga matsCredit: Exceptional.com
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? 

Yoga mats used to be made of PVC which isn’t very planet friendly, but now there’s a huge choice of different eco-friendly materials. These include biodegradable mats, natural 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. A great budget option is the Gaiam Non-Slip mat, which has an RRP of £34.95 – but Amazon often has it for under £30.

Featured product

Gaiam Non-Slip Yoga Mat

RRP: £34.95

Gaiam Non-Slip Yoga Mat

‘How I chose my yoga mat’

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,” she says. “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.” 

A close up of a man rolling up a yoga mat, with just his feet, hands and yoga mat in shotCredit: Shutterstock/George Ruddy
A yoga mat can last for years

3 excellent yoga mats to choose from

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 the best yoga mats. 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 – three of our favourites are listed below.

Yogi Bare Paws Natural Rubber Extreme Grip Yoga Mat

Luxury
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

Competitive
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

Luxury
Recommended

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

Updated:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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