In the past, Yogis and Yoginis could only choose yoga mats based on their color, as mats were standardized and made from one material only: PVC (Polyvinyl chloride).

However, it can be an daunting experience searching for your first yoga mat right now with the dizzying array of options today. Deciding between the various fabrics, shapes, and thicknesses may seem like a massive amount of detail. But this guide should cover each and more of these things, which will ease the decision process a little bit.

If the purchase is meant to be a gift, be mindful of who this yoga mat is intended for when you read this. The yoga mat you chose depends on their level of commitment and experience experience. Basically, if they’re new to yoga you should be looking more at basic, entry-level mats.

3 Main Things To Consider When Purchasing Your Yoga Mat

Thickness

If a yoga-mat is too thin, certain positions can be bad for the knees and joints. When a mat is too thick, maintaining the balance and holding a pose can be challenging. Below are at a glance three of the big yoga mat thickness levels:

A thin yoga mat is around 1/16 ” thick is perfect f you’re constantly on-the-go or are looking to practice Yoga when you travel, then ultra lite 1/16″ yoga mats are the perfect solution. A 1/8-inch thick yoga mat is sturdy and is also known as standard yoga mats, and it’s a perfect combination of performance and portability. 1/4” is usually higher-end & premium which offer the best comfort and support but is a little more difficult to maintain your balance and hold a pose.

Material

The texture, stickiness, sponginess and eco-friendliness are decided by the substrate of a mat. Most yoga mats are either made of rubber or pvc. Vinyl mats last a long time, and can endure several courses of yoga. Usually, rubber mats have jute and cotton in them to make them more environmentally friendly but less spongy.

As Yogis and Yoginis, we not only protect and respect the people around us but the world as well. We don’t want our work to end up destroying the lovely environment.

Environmentally friendly alternatives usually consists of a mixture of woven Jute and 100 % natural rubber. Ideal for both energetic yoga and gentle yoga.

At first, the variations in material compositions can appear slight but they influence the way you perform yoga. Other than the above mentioned, here are the common materials used,

  • Rubber: Another common option for eco-friendly yoga mats that is a good alternative to a PVC mats are Rubber Yoga mats. Like foam yoga mats there is latex in the rubber mats. Anyone suffering from allergies should consider other solutions.
  • Cotton: Often referred to as “original yoga mats,” cotton yoga mats are lightweight, thin and environmentally friendly. These are usually used in addition on top of other yoga mats. Cotton retains moisture well, and is great for absorbing sweat. Grip increases when wet.
  • Foam: Simply the eco-friendly variant of PVC mats, foam yoga mats provide the same durability benefits but without the negative side effects on the environment. The only downside is that mats made of foam contain latex and may cause issues with allergies for certain yogis.
  • Jute: Unlike cotton yoga mats, Jute provides the same durability and strength as cotton yoga mats. Same as cotton mats, Jute yoga mats are usually used over other yoga mat to get excellent traction and superior support. Jute, though, is a more fibrous fiber that is a little bit rougher than cotton and retains less moisture.
  • PVC: The bulk of entry-level yoga mats are made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. This substance has outstanding toughness, stickiness and comfort. PVC has faced criticism for not being environmentally friendly despite its effectiveness as a yoga mat material.

Texture

The texture of the mat can regulate how much friction it possesses. 

Smooth mats, if you chose correctly, can be very great. Many of them give you that “sticky” feeling, and that’s crucial to prevent you from slipping around and provide friction. If not, it will then become slick and potentially risky. Especially if you are sweating a lot, a smoother mat made of natural rubber does not absorb sweat like a textured mat.

Smooth mats with great friction are ideal for the more intense movement provided by Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga. It’s important to avoid smooth PVC mats, because they’re just too slippery. 

The texture of the mat can regulate how much friction it possesses. A grippy mat will prevent you from sliding around if you sweat a lot in yoga class. When you are disturbed by the bumpy texture be sure that the smooth mat has a function for managing moisture.

Stickiness

Stickiness is a indicator of how tightly the skin adheres to the surface. It is not a gritty, gooey feeling, but rather a suction-like stickiness that lets you maintain your position and keep it balanced correctly. PVC and foam mats have the highest stickiness ratio and a modest volume of rubber. Be warned though that when dried, PVC and foam mats are just sticky. There is almost no stickiness to the cotton and jute yoga mats.

Determine Your Style Of Yoga Practice To Find Your Perfect Yoga Mat

The last but one of the most important consideration for choosing a perfect yoga mat, is the style of yoga you want to learn or practice. Especially if you are an experienced practitioner, it should be an important consideration in helping you determine your purchase.

Gentle/Lower-Intensity Yoga

For this type of yoga, comfort should be a higher priority. Focuses on comfort above all else, so that you can focus on relaxation of the body and mind. PVC or foam yoga mats should fit well in this situation to provide an appropriate comfort and support. 

A mat between 5 mm and 8 mm (1/8″ thickness or 1/4″ thickness) limit the impact between your body and the ground and thus protects your back and your joints. It is more suitable for this type of yoga.

Dynamic Yoga

Dynamic yoga is done quicker, with Ashtanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and Hot Yoga being examples. The focus for these types of yoga is to have more stability and grip, as many standing and balancing postures are practiced.

Textured mats are ideal for more of these active yoga types — even power yoga — due to all the bending, sliding, and stretching. All your suddenness would make it hard for the PVC and foam mats to remain sticky.

You should opt for a mat that has a thickness between 3 and 5 mm (1/8″ thickness or 1/16″ thickness). A mat that is too thick will make balancing work more difficult.

Recommendations for Yoga Mats?

Having run through some of the considerations when making a purchase for a Yoga Mat. Here are some of our recommendations based on their functionality, material & even gift-ability. 

1. Baloo Weighted Liforme Original Yoga Mat – The World’s Best Eco-Friendly, Non Slip Yoga Mat

The Liforme Mat has a printed alignment system on the surface that will help you find your symmetry, balance, and proper footing in any pose.

Biodegradable, it is made using the most ‘body kind’ and eco-friendly materials and processes.

No matter what kind of yoga you practice, an important part of learning the poses and their transitions. The first thing you’ll note about the Liforme mat is that distinct curves, patterns, and markings are etched onto its surface to help you place your limbs correctly as you go through the poses during practice.

Liforme has a patented “GripForMe” material mix of natural rubber and sustainably-sourced felt used to make the mat. Used to support the elbows, thighs, and hands with 4.2 mm of padding on top of its contribution of using eco-friendly material. The combination will prevent you from slipping and falling when you start sweating.

2. Manduka Yoga Mat

Manduka Yoga Mats are made from biodegradable, non-harvested, natural tree rubber with non-toxic foaming agents and non-azo dyes. Made from natural rubber, which is not directly extracted in the Amazon — do yoga, preserve the rainforests.

If this is your first investment in a well-made yoga mat, the price tag can cause you to balk. The Manduka mats does come with a lifetime warranty, though, so you don’t have to worry about your mat flaking, peeling, and fading. Manduka guarantees that their mats will only strengthen as time goes by, while other mats deteriorate over time.

3. YoGo Travel Yoga Mat

Once you open it up it is a full-size yoga mat but it folds to a very compact scale. Once you’re done with your lessons/practice, you can roll everything up like origami easily. You can even hang it up with the handles after washing it.

The actual YoGo Travel Yoga Mat rubber folds up into a small box you can carry in your luggage while you’re traveling. Super convenient for those constantly on the move.

Yoga Mat Roundup

Yoga is one of the easiest ways to boost your endurance, center your mind and create a deep sense of peace and calmness.

You will want to make sure you have the right equipment before you start any yoga regimen or workout, and this begins by having a good yoga mat.

Hope we helped you make a purchase decision. Which of the above recommended was your favorite? We’d love to know.