Yoga has long been touted for its ability to build strength, increase flexibility and promote mental well-being, all in the form of low-impact movements. It also requires very little equipment—in most cases, just a yoga mat will do. But after months of testing eight yoga mats (some at the recommendation of readers, others with the endorsement of industry professionals), my top picks are the Lululemon Take Form Mat for everyday use and the Amazon Basics Mat for its sheer value, but three additional mats also caught my eye if you’re looking for a model that’s sutainable, travel-friendly or adaptable. (You can read my in-depth reviews of the Lululemon Take Form Mat and Amazon Basics Mat for more details, too.)
The following is a list of all the winners from my testing process:
Why did I do so much research? It turns out that finding the perfect yoga mat poses a challenge. A good mat supports your body through a range of movements, but it should also be durable and easy to clean (especially after a sweat-inducing hot yoga sesh). While there are a myriad of options, I’m here to help you identify the best yoga mats that cater to any scenario.
Lululemon’s popular Take Form Mat tops the list of the best yoga mats because of its versatility. It has subtle ripples that are helpful in guiding newbies and seasoned yogis through their practice with good posture (the pattern is meant to show users where to place their hands and feet for proper alignment). It has a hyper-grippy top layer and underside, so neither you nor the mat will slip around, even if you sweat a lot or perform explosive exercises. And at 5 millimeters thick, it’s cushioned enough to take the pressure off your knees and ankles, and can absorb some of the shock that comes with jumping. It’s also sturdy enough that your shoulder blades and tailbone don’t feel the floor when performing crunches or back-centric exercises.
The Take Form Mat is 3 inches longer than the traditional 68-inch mats sold by many yoga brands. It also weighs just under 5 pounds, which places it on the heavier side, so for that reason, I’d recommend carrying straps or a bag to make transport a bit easier. On the other hand, that heft does help the mat to lay perfectly flat after being unfurled.
The Lululemon mat is made with natural rubber that’s Forest Stewardship Council-certified, which basically means the product meets the gold standard for responsibly sourcing its materials. It comes in six colors, including a solid black option and five tie-dye variants.
From a care standpoint, the top of the mat is a breeze to clean—just wipe it down with a natural cleanser and wait for it to dry before rolling it up (top side out, so as to not compress the ripples). The bottom of the mat poses more of a cleaning challenge, however, because the material’s grippy quality means it’s likely to hang onto dirt and hair. If you have pets that shed, this may prove to be a bigger problem over time that, if left untreated, could degrade the mat’s ability to adhere to the floor.
There are a couple of other drawbacks worth highlighting, too. When the mat first comes out of the packaging, it has a strong rubber odor that takes some time to dissipate. And because it does such a good job of gripping against your skin, the mat tends to make unflattering noises (it kind of sounds like a plunger) when you’re sweaty and switch positions.
My 6-month update: I genuinely think the ripple feature has helped improve my posture (though I’ve done a lot more yoga since taking on this assignment, which might have something to do with it, too). My only complaint is that the mat seems to get harder to clean as time goes on. As I mentioned earlier, the bottom of the mat is very grippy and, therefore, challenging to clean as it collects dog fur and dirt tracked into the house. Because of that, the mat’s grip has degraded a fair amount since I started testing. However, the top of the mat looks more or less like it did when I first unboxed it—there’s been little to no compression of the ripples.
It’s worth noting that Lululemon has heavily discounted this mat since we originally started testing it, which leads us to believe that it’s bound for retirement soon. If you’re keen on trying it, now would be the time to buy.
As is often the case when investing in health and wellness equipment, you get what you pay for. This yoga mat from Amazon, however, defies expectations.
At around $20, it was by far the cheapest mat I tested for this project—and it’s a mat of surprising quality. At least in the short term.
At a half-inch thick, it’s more comfortable than some camping mattresses I’ve tested—it makes you feel very buoyant, almost like you’re floating above the ground. For that reason alone, it would be a great choice for those attempting more challenging positions, like headstand variations or Crow, who might want a little more cushioning in the event of a fall.
The Basics mat is also very grippy—it’s unlikely that you’ll slide around, even in the midst of a hot yoga session. However, I found the grippy texture a hindrance when the time came to switch positions. I almost felt too rooted to the mat.
Because the peaks and valleys of the mat’s grooves are set fairly wide apart, it’s easy to clean with a simple solution. The mat is made from nitrile butadiene rubber (and comes in blue, black, pink or cyan), a type of synthetic rubber popular in yoga mats for its softness and cushioning. The material is supposed to resist wear, but you might notice temporary imprints (more on that below).
The only issue I encountered came when storing the mat or unfurling it for a session. It’s really bulky when rolled up, and it doesn’t lay flat immediately. Even after more than six months of testing, the mat never lost the crease that ran along the middle when it first came out of its packaging. In the initial few months, there were also some subtle indents in the spots where my feet were most often positioned, which more of less rebounded after a few days of off the mat. Now they’re permanent fixtures in my mat.
It’s definitely not a mat that will stand up to years of frequent use (I’m hoping to get another few months of casual use out of it), but at just over $20, it’s a fair option for an infrequent user, for someone who doesn’t mind replacing their equipment every year or so, or for someone who wants to see if they like yoga before committing to a more expensive mat.
My 6-month update: As I suspected, it’s about time to retire this mat—there are obvious wear spots from where I place my hands, feet and knees most frequently, and some of the rubber is starting to flake off. There are also a handful of puncture marks from where one of our dogs walked on it—it’s just not the most durable mat on the market. Still, I’d consider it a decent starter mat—by the time it gets to worn out, surely you’ll have decided if yoga is something you want to stick with, and you can purchase something more durable or find a way to repurpose the mat if yoga isn’t for you.
For those who want to take their practice on the road, the Jade Yoga Voyager Mat is the best option for a good flow away from home.
This mat measures 68 by 24 inches (the average size for yoga mats), and its extra-thin 1.5-millimeter thickness makes it easy to pack into a backpack or weekend bag. In fact, it can fold many times over like a sheet of paper, and once fully folded away, it’s about the size of a yoga block.
The texture is reminiscent of a cat’s tongue, which is to say it has plenty of grip for positions that require your feet to be firmly planted, like the various Warrior poses. Even when wet, you won’t slip around, and the mat will more or less stay in the same position on the ground. All in all, I was impressed with its grippy texture, given how thin it is, but as a consequence, the reinforcing scrim is visible underneath the mat (because Jade’s other mats are thicker, they can hide the reinforcing fabrics).
The mat comes in four colors, including midnight blue, olive green, purple and black, and for each mat sold, Jade plants a tree. Obviously, this doesn’t affect the mat’s abilities when the time comes to break into practice, but it might make you feel a little better about your purchase from an ethical standpoint.
The Voyager mat does have some drawbacks, though I wouldn’t consider them disqualifiers if you prioritize portability. For one, it takes more than an hour for the mat to lay completely flat after it’s unrolled (though it does lay flat almost immediately after it’s unfolded). It’s also not the easiest to clean, given its grippy texture—I wouldn’t recommend cleaning it with a paper towel or washcloth with a loose weave, as the former would rip and the latter would deposit fibers. It does, however, dry very quickly, and at less than 2 pounds, it’s suitable for yogis on the go who don’t need a lot of cushion.
My 6-month update: The Voyager mat has held up surprisingly well in the last six months of use. I was initially worried that it would wear out too quickly because of how thin it is, but there appears to be very little sign of use. I’d also been concerned that it would hold onto dog hair, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I do wish it had a little more cushion, but that would likely negate its portability. For diehard yogis who can’t skip a day, even on vacation, it’s a solid choice.
Yoga Hustle’s The Mat very nearly earned my top pick. Ultimately what gave Lululemon’s Take Form mat the winning edge was that it had a slightly lower price point and the unique ripple feature made it easier to guide me in my practice, though such a feature may not be for everyone.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, The Mat is arguably the most attractive of all the mats I tested—it’s a truly beautiful option with a lovely pattern. At 4.5-millimeters thick, it has some heft to it, so you won’t feel any contact points against the floor, even after months of consistent use. And considering it’s 73 inches long by 27 inches wide, it’s a touch longer and wider than the average yoga mat, making it nice for taller users or those who just want a little more real estate.
There’s also some pretty cool tech at play here. For one, the texture is very grippy on top and bottom, so neither you nor the mat will slide around during use. And there’s an anti-microbial membrane in the core of the mat which helps prevent any build-up of mold or bacteria.
Bonus: It’s made with responsibly-source, 100% recycled materials (including 80% natural rubber, 18% polyurethane and two% antimicrobial polyester). That mean if you do throw it away, it’ll biodegrade without sitting in a landfill for years.
Unfortunately, it does show sweat immediately, and it takes a little while to dry, so if you’re embarrassed by back sweat, this isn’t the best choice for that hot yoga class you’re considering. Though, to be fair, I tested the green mat that shows moisture, and it may not be as noticeable on a darker colorway.
My 6-month update: After six months of testing, this is the mat I find myself reaching for more than any other. I’d originally chosen the Lululemon Take Form Mat as the best overall, but if I were to re-rank the mats based solely on how they held up after six months, I’d likely choose the Yoga Hustle The Mat. I think the clean-ability of this mat outweighs any fun design features offered by the Take Form mat. Of all the mats I’ve tested, this is the one that is most likely to go the distance.
From an adaptability standpoint, the Stakt mat is next level. Instead of rolling up, this mat folds up like an accordion into three sections. It would easily fit into the bottom of a suitcase but not in, say, the carrying straps on a backpack.
The foldability isn’t something I thought I wanted or needed, but after testing it out for awhile, I do find it’s a feature that makes it more functional than other mats. For instance, as a former collegiate rower and current long-distance runner who doesn’t have much cartilage left in their knees, I like that I can fold it up for additional cushioning when performing certain exercises. And at 12 millimeters thick, it’s significantly thicker than most other yoga mats.
I really like that it’s foldable because, in all honesty, I think it looks tidier, too. The folding grooves, however, are pretty noticeable, depending on how you’re positioned on them, and I had to adjust my flow so that my hands, knees and feet didn’t end up directly on the creases. It comes in four colors (which admittedly skew more feminine): seafoam, rosewater, dune, and iron. There’s also no designated top side ot bottom side, so it doesn’t stay put during explosive exercises like other mats that feature a grippy underside.
My 6-month update: I have good news and bad news about the Stakt Mat. Good news is, after about six months of testing, the folding grooves seem less noticeable—they’ve kind of squished together. The bad news is that the ridges that exist across the entire mat for grip-ability have started to break down, so I find myself slipping and sliding a little more than I did at the beginning.
Other Yoga Mats I Tested
I tested a total of eight different yoga mats from brands large and small. These are mats I tested that didn’t make the final cut.
Liforme Signature Mat ($140): Liforme’s Signature Mat is great from a travel standpoint. Though it’s a little heavier at 5.5 pounds, it rolls up nicely and is the only mat that came with its own carrying case. Visually, it’s stunning—each colorway is rich and vibrant, and the mat has handy markers to indicate where to place your hands and feet. However, it has so little give that it almost feels like you’re lying on the floor, and unless you bought a thin mat like the Jade Yoga Voyager that’s supposed to be slim, it’s going to cause long-term discomfort.
B Yoga B Mat ($98): The B Mat is easy to clean in spite of how hyper-grippy it is. Unfortunately, I could feel my shoulder blades and tailbone digging into the floor when I performed crunches (though contact wasn’t as noticeable during yoga poses). The mat also holds onto a noticeable odor that lasted for a few weeks, while others shed any unwanted funk in a matter of hours or days after unboxing.
Gaiam Yoga Mat ($70): The Gaiam Yoga Mat has a lovely texture and is very cushiony. However, when you unroll it, a curl persists at both ends, and the mat doesn’t unfurl very quickly. It’s also hard to clean, largely because of the persistent bumps. And the mat had a very strong odor out of the package that made me less inclined to reach for it.
How I Tested The Best Yoga Mats
With no shortage of yoga mats to choose from, I culled an extensive list based on personal experience, recommendations from experts and best-selling products from major yoga brands. I exercised on the mats in a variety of conditions during different workouts, from gentle stretching to high-intensity cardio sessions. I also completed yoga practices on different surfaces, like the concrete floor in my garage, the hardwood floor in my living room and the wonky, warped boards of my back porch. After each session, I cleaned each mat thoroughly with a gentle solution.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned yogi, you’re going to want a mat that is comfortable, portable and designed to withstand extended periods of use (because nobody wants to have to replace their gear every few months). With these expectations in mind, I evaluated each yoga mat according to the following criteria:
I tested whether or not the mats supported my body during various exercises, noting when my back, shoulders or other contact points could feel the floor beneath the mat. I also assessed whether the mat looked dented or misshapen after a workout to better understand how it would retain its shape and long-term support.
I performed multiple 30-minute yoga flows that incorporated exercises with varying contact points (elbows, knees, hands, feet, shoulder blades, etc.) and rated how the texture felt, ranging from extremely uncomfortable to comfortable.
I completed a workout on each mat that involved a lot of plyometrics (burpees, mountain climbers, etc.) to evaluate how well the mat stayed in place and whether my hands or feet slipped on its surface, especially after working up a sweat.
I tested how easy it was to roll up each mat before positioning it in a travel strap. I also considered how long it took for each mat to lay flat and return to its original shape after being rolled up for 24 hours.
You’re supposed to wipe down your yoga mat after every practice, but different textures and materials can make it difficult to clean a mat effectively. After each practice, I attempted to clean each mat with a simple solution and noted how easy (or hard) it was to wipe down, and whether the gentle cleaning solution had any adverse effects on the materials.
Size & Aesthetics
When selecting the winners, I also considered each mat’s size and aesthetic. When looking at the size, I considered how the mats are intended to be used and whether or not the options ran big or small. And while aesthetics typically don’t influence the functionality of a yoga mat, they can influence whether or not you use your mat in the first place.
How To Pick A Yoga Mat
Yoga mats come in essentially four different thicknesses: ultra-thin (1 to 2 millimeters), average (4 to 5 millimeters), thick (6 millimeters) and extra-thick (more than 6 millimeters). Each style comes with pros and cons, but here’s what you should know.
- Ultra-Thin: These mats are well-suited for travel, as they can be folded away. However, they don’t provide much cushioning, which can pose a challenge for those with sensitive joints.
- Average: This is the most common mat style, designed to help practitioners feel grounded. But given how thin it is, some still prefer a mat that offers more cushion.
- Thick: This style is thick enough that you won’t feel the floor beneath you. These mats are great for those who need just a little extra padding, but they do tend to be on the heavier side and thus not very portable.
- Extra Thick: Soft and cushy, this thickness is ideal for those who need additional cushioning due to joint pain. You won’t feel grounded, but you will feel comfortable.
Generally speaking, thicker mats last longer than thinner mats. However, the quality of the material also determines a mat’s longevity.
Yoga mats come in a range of sizes, so consider what size will best accommodate your body and practice style. If you’re tall or like to move around a lot, you may need a larger mat. And if you’re shorter or prefer to work through simple exercises, you can probably pick up a traditional mat.
Rabbath notes that if you’re looking for a solid travel mat, it’s better to look for one that is foldable versus one that needs to be rolled up. For something that will only be used at home, she recommends something that stores easily.
When looking for a new yoga mat, it’s important to consider what it’s made of, as that will determine everything from price and durability to weight and grip. One of the most common materials used to make yoga mats is PVC, a plastic-based material. While PVC mats are fairly rugged, they’re non-absorbent (which can be a dealbreaker if you’re someone who sweats a lot) and not environmentally friendly.
Another option to consider is a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) mat, which is made with a blend of plastic and rubber polymers. These are usually greener than PVC mats (some can even be recycled) but need to be replaced more often. And then there are natural rubber mats, which are becoming increasingly popular for their grippy texture and natural origin.
Generally speaking, more expensive yoga mats are made with higher-quality materials and are often more eco-friendly, as well.
It’s a good idea to think of a yoga mat as an investment in your health. Using one that’s comfortable will inspire you to use it more, which is better than saving a little money on a mat that’s uncomfortable. A yoga mat with plenty of support and grip will also reduce the likelihood of injury, so you’re investing in your long-term well-being when you splurge on a mat that meets your needs.
From camping tents to treadmills, I’ve been testing and reviewing outdoor and wellness equipment for more than three years. I was formerly a competitive swimmer and a Division I collegiate rower, which meant strenuous workout sessions up to five hours a day, six days a week. Now I partake in regular exercise, like hiking, running and swimming, and adopt various stretching plans as necessary.
In addition to my own expertise, I consulted two experts who have spent countless hours using yoga mats: Rima Rabbath, an advanced certified instructor and the founder of Souk, a virtual yoga class; and Fiona Devaney, a longtime yoga teacher and the founder of MAÄT, a yoga activewear brand.
Is Foam Or Rubber Better For Your Yoga Mat?
The choice between foam or rubber for your yoga mat ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs. Both materials have their own benefits and drawbacks.
Foam mats, such as those made from PVC or TPE, tend to be more lightweight and affordable than rubber mats. They also provide more cushioning and can be easier to clean. However, foam mats may not have as much grip as rubber mats, which can make it more difficult to hold certain poses. Foam mats also have a shorter lifespan and may need to be replaced more frequently.
Rubber mats, on the other hand, are generally more durable and provide better grip, especially when your hands and feet are sweaty. Because rubber is a sustainable material, it’s also more eco-friendly. However, rubber mats can be heavier and more expensive. Some people are allergic to natural rubber or find the smell unpleasant.
How Much Of A Factor Is Grip?
Grip prevents you from sliding around on the mat and keeps you grounded, especially as you progress into more challenging poses.
Shopping online for a mat with good grip can be challenging, though. Devaney notes that she’s “found that the grippiest textures look almost like they’re woven into the mat rather than stamped or printed on top—meaning the texture seems to have depth.” But “the good news is that nearly all yoga mats get grippier with use, so if you end up with one that you realize is slippery after using it a few times, all is not lost. With continued use, it’ll become grippier.”
What Are The Best Types Of Mats For Hot Yoga (Or Just Sweaty Practitioners)?
If you tend to sweat a lot during your practice, it’s important to choose a mat that is high-quality and non-slip—otherwise there’s potential for injury. Look for mat made from natural rubber or polyurethane materials, as they offer the best grip when wet. They’ll provide a secure foundation for your flow and prevent slipping and ensure stability, which is particularly important in challenging poses. Also look for mats with a texture surface, as it will give you better traction. Finally, yoga mats with moisture-wicking properties are good to consider—they can absorb excess moisture and keep the surface dry.
How Do You Clean A Yoga Mat?
It’s important to clean your yoga mat regularly (typically after each use, but perhaps less often if your practice isn’t particularly sweaty) to remove any dirt, sweat and bacteria that can build up on the mat’s surface.
While it’s possible to buy yoga mat cleaners, both Devaney and Rabbath said they use a simple mixture of vinegar and water (at a one-to-four ratio) in a spray bottle to clean their yoga mats. If you’d like the cleaning solution to be slightly scented, add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to the mixture.
How Do You Choose An Environmentally-Friendly Yoga Mat?
The most environmentally friendly yoga mats are typically made from natural, sustainable materials. Cork and natural rubber mats are popular choices as they are biodegradable, renewable, and sourced responsibly. Cork yoga mats are made from the bark of cork oak trees, which naturally regenerate after harvesting, reducing the environmental impact. Natural rubber mats come from rubber trees and are both durable and eco-friendly. Look for mats that are free from harmful chemicals like PVC, latex, or synthetic rubber, which can harm the environment during production and disposal. Additionally, choosing a mat with a closed-loop manufacturing process and minimal packaging further promotes sustainability in your yoga practice.
Sign up for the Forbes Shopping newsletter
for the best fashion, home, wellness and tech product advice.