Why yoga mat thickness matters – and how to choose the right one for you

Whether you practice hatha, vinyasa or hot, the thickness of your yoga mat is so important.

Whether you’re starting yoga for beginners or you are a seasoned yogi, your yoga mat will be at the heart of every practice – which makes choosing the right one paramount.

One important consideration is yoga mat thickness (something we paid close attention to when compiling our guide to the best yoga mats). It’s easy to assume they are all the same, but mats can actually vary between a paper-thin 1mm and a cushioned 12mm thick. Pick the wrong one, and your joints or your yoga practice could suffer.

Ultimately, the choice comes down to your personal preference, the type of yoga you practise and any specific physical considerations you have. So how do you know which yoga mat thickness is best for you? We’ve got expert advice to help you make an informed decision.

A pile of brightly coloured yoga matsCredit: Shutterstock /Chutima Chaochaiya

How to choose your yoga mat thickness

Yoga instructor Leanne Bird says: “Choosing the thickness of your yoga mat comes a lot down to preference and where you are using it.

“As a general guide, thinner mats provide more stability with balance postures and are easier and lighter to transport, but can be uncomfortable in savasana [the resting pose at the end of a practice] and poses on the knees, particularly on hard floors.

“Thicker mats, however, provide greater cushioning for the joints and are better on hard floors, but, due to the additional ‘give’, can add challenge to balancing, especially when used on carpets.”

If possible, it’s a good idea to try out different thicknesses before buying to see which one feels most comfortable and supportive for your practice.

Once you’ve invested, don’t forget to clean your yoga mat regularly to keep it fresh.

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Types of yoga mat thickness

Yoga mat thickness options fall into four categories, listed here and outlined in more detail below:

  • Travel yoga mats – 1-2mm (1/16 inch)
  • Medium thickness yoga mats – 4-5mm (1/6 inch)
  • Thick yoga mat – 6mm (1/4 inch)
  • Extra thick yoga mats – more than 6mm (up to 1/2 inch)

Travel yoga mats – 1-2mm (1/16 inch)

Good for: Travelling yogis.
Downsides: No cushioning so uncomfortable on a hard floor.

These ultra-thin mats are designed for travel and portability. They are lightweight and can fold up small. However, they may not provide as much cushioning and support as thicker mats, so they are not ideal for people who need extra joint protection or have sensitive joints.

Bird says: “When I use a travel mat, I like to use it on carpet or even a borrowed yoga mat underneath for extra cushioning.”

We recommend: The Kin Halcyon Travel Mat (£55, Kin Yoga) is grippy and lightweight. The testers in our yoga mat guide all loved its soft feel and pretty design.

Kin Travel Yoga Mat

Competitive

A useful travel mat for serious yogis, but too thin for most.

Lightweight, foldable travel mat

Medium thickness yoga mats – 4-5mm (1/6 inch)

Good for: Most forms of yoga, including flow, dynamic and hot yoga.

Disadvantages: Those with sensitive joints may want to add extra cushioning.

These mats are the most popular and the biggest selling mats tend to be this thickness. These include Liforme, Yogi Bare and Lululemon. They strike a good balance between portability and cushioning.

Bird says: “These mats are great all-rounders for most forms of yoga, but if you do feel it on your knees, you can roll the mat over or use a towel or blanket for additional cushioning under the joint.”

We recommend: The Yogi Bare Paws Extra Grip yoga mat (£74.95, Yogi Bare) mat won our best in test award.

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

Thick yoga mats – 6mm (1/4 inch)

Good for: Slower forms of yoga (hatha, restorative, yin) for people with joint issues.

Disadvantages: Cushioning may not be suitable for faster flows and these mats can be bulky and less portable.

These mats provide more cushioning and are especially beneficial for anyone with joint issues wanting to practise slower forms of yoga.

Michelle Klein, from yoga equipment company Yogamatters, says: “A thicker mat provides a softer cushioned base for sensitive joints and is good for restorative and yin yoga, where asanas [poses] are held for a longer time.

“The disadvantage of a thicker mat is that it does not work as well for balancing asanas such as tree pose or more dynamic yoga such as ashtanga.”

We recommend: The Gaiam non-slip yoga matyoga mat (from £39.99, Amazon) is 6mm and was popular with many of our testers in our best yoga guide. Many felt it was suitable for most forms of yoga thanks to its extra grip.

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Gaiam Non-slip 6mm Yoga Mat

Budget
Recommended

A popular budget mat which has good cushioning and grip. Not as durable, big or stable as others available.

A great value thick yoga mat.

Extra thick yoga mats – more than 6mm (up to 1/2 inch)

Good for: People with joint issues practising restorative yoga.

Disadvantages: Too soft for most forms of yoga, especially flow or dynamic yoga, as the cushioning will affect your balance.

These extra-thick mats are generally used for practices that involve a lot of floor work. They provide maximum cushioning and support but are less common in traditional yoga settings because they can compromise stability in standing poses and may not provide the same level of connection to the ground. Extra thick mats are popular for Pilates practice.

We recommend: At 8mm thick, the Yogamatters Wellness Mat (£35, Yogamatters) is really cushioned.

Featured product

Yogamatters Wellness Mat

RRP: £35

Yogamatters Wellness Mat

If you have a health condition or an injury, check with your doctor or instructor before buying a mat to ensure you get the right one for your needs.

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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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