Paige Earl | HealthGreatness
Investing in a quality yoga mat is a big step in your personal practice and, because quality mats can be a bit pricey, it’s good to know what you’re getting into before plunking down your hard earned money. As someone that has bought their fair share of mats, *cough* (while writing this I can count five varieties in my living room alone), I am hoping to give you some pointers.
When considering purchasing a mat, or making a recommendation, I usually think about a few things:
- Price point. What is it that you’re willing to invest? Do you see this as an investment? Or do you need a quick fix? Are you new to yoga or experienced? Based on the dollar amount you’re willing to spend your options vary.
- Frequency of Use. How often are you going to be on your mat? Once a week? Once a day? Once a month? A quality mat will need to meet your usage demands.
- Use Case. What type of yoga will you be doing most often? Moreover, is your practice a vigorous one where you sweat buckets? If so, you’ll want to consider something that has a surface that will work with you not against you—meaning it won’t become slippery as you perspire. Yoga is hard enough without fighting your mat!
- Your Needs. Do you have sensitive knees when you bare weight? Are you recovering from an injury or surgery? Are you particularly boney? (Or is this a moot point for you?)
Once you’ve had a chance to ask yourself and (honestly) answer the above questions, now you can start exploring options. The following are a few mats that I’ve used, trust, and recommend with comments to further elaborate.
Gaiam: (Printed) Yoga Mat MSRP $29.98
These mats are usually found at Walmart, Target, local gyms or a number of discounted sports good stores. While these mats may seem like a great option, and most beginners end up picking one up, they’re the very mat that I tell my students not to buy, for several reasons. Initially the low price-point will seem attractive but, eventually, the quality of these mats will leave something to be desired. More often than not, as brand new they’ll actually hold a chemical smell for several uses. The moment you start to sweat you’ll be slipping and sliding all over your mat – which draws your attention away from improving your practice to just barely being able to get through it. (Not your ideal goal!)
If you’re in a pinch, this will do. If you can spend a few extra bucks, I promise it will be worth it in comparison. Most people that use these mats typically purchase a yoga towel that covers the length of their mat to keep from slipping, but that presents another layer of issues all on its own. If you need a towel because you slip on your mat, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the mat?
Overall Rating – Meh…
Lululemon: The Mat MSRP $68
I’ll be honest; the L word scares me off a little, too. But hear me out because I love this mat! After making the commitment in my personal practice to invest in quality mats, I gave this one a try and I’ve never looked back. I’m the type of person that really sweats in a yoga class—after all, I’m there for a workout. The first time I used this mat I was in shock! I didn’t slip one bit and my focus on the practice was measurably increased. After taking a leap in the quality of my mat I noticed that my practice actually started to advance too. It was like my basic needs were met allowing room for growth. The more I sweat, the more this mat seems to grip me back. Win!
There is one drawback though; it’s heavy at 5.8 lbs. Not terribly, “my arm is going to fall off”, heavy. But heavy enough that when I teach I choose to leave it at home, or beside my desk at work, and opt to bring it along when I’m going for a dedicated practice. Because of this, when I teach, I’ll bring along its sister mat The Mat 3mm which is the exact same material but, because it’s thinner, it is a bit lighter to carry around at just under 4 lbs.
Overall Rating – My Fav!
Jade: Professional Harmony Mat MSRP $69.95
Jade (the eco-friendly yoga brand, not the stone) is well known for its green construction. Made from natural rubber, a renewable resource tapped from rubber trees (which contain no PVC or ozone depleting substances), this mat is perfect if you’re a very green conscious yogi. I’ve found these mats to feel squishy under hand and foot during practice which is a nice sensation while providing an added challenge during balance poses. (Bonus for any yogi!) While initially I found the surface to hold up to a sweaty class, it ultimately felt too soft and seemed like my sweat pooled on the surface again requiring a yoga towel. (Are you noticing a theme here? I yoga HARD!) The weight in this one is more on the reasonable side at 4.5 lbs. Decent mat for a medium practice, green conscious yogi.
Rating – Greenie winner!
Manduka: The Black Mat Pro MSRP $100
One of the studios where I teach offers these beauties for all of the members (pretty cool, right?!). The mat itself has a solid construction, offering a solid foundation to protect tender knees or joints, and boasts a green composition. You can purchase a length that works best for you, which is nice for a shorty like me. The average weight is a bit heavier than The Mat from Lululemon, at 7 lbs. (I don’t know that I’d want to pack this thing around with me everywhere.) That said, Manduka offers a variety of lighter options with the same construction, such as the PROlite at 4 lbs., with thinner construction. Because I crave a sweaty class, I find that I still need a towel to keep from slipping around, but they offer decent support and are an industry standard. Be sure to pack your yoga towel though, if you are in the same boat. (The sweat boat… Yum!)
Overall Rating – Decent
Liforme: Liforme Yoga Mat MSRP $140
The Liforme Yoga Mat is all that and a bag of chips. The Cadillac of yoga mats is here, and you’re going to pay top dollar for it as well. Just like the cheap options, you get what you pay for. Not only does it have a super grip-worthy surface but the markings and lines are amazing for checking in with your alignment during practice. These mats are a bit larger than the most “normal” yoga mats at four inches wider and about six inches longer, and that’s just the standard Liforme size. It’s great for male athletes and folks with long legs! In addition to all these perks, Liforme mats are planet friendly as well. You get all this magic at just 5.5 lbs. What more could you ask for?
Overall Rating – Ridin’ pretty
So, what does it all mean? My vote goes for either Lululemon: The Mat or Liforme: Liforme Yoga Mat if you have the money and dedication to your practice. They both provide excellent grip, joint support, and hold up to the sweat test. My Suggestion? While saving your pennies for the Liforme Yoga Mat, you can use The Mat to hold you over and the Manduka at the gym in a pinch. You will love The Mat and by the time you get curious about options you’ll have saved enough to go big. If you’re just starting out and aren’t ready to commit, better bring a towel (yogi toes is my go-to). After all, that’s what I had to do!