The selling points for yoga are numerous: It keeps the body limber and strong and, if done correctly, can fix your posture and stress levels at the same time.
Yoga makes you flexible, and it’s also a flexible workout. You can wear fancy yoga pants or ratty gym shorts. You can go to a boutique studio or stream a class online. No matter what your age or athletic ability is, you can probably find a yoga workout that works for you.
The only real requirement is that you get a yoga mat, and there are a few factors to keep in mind, according to experts. It's key to find a mat thick enough to support your joints during Warrior pose, and also absorbent enough, and with a sticky enough surface texture, that you don't fall down while attempting Downward Dog.
While there are plenty of cheap yoga mats to be found, be wary. A low-quality yoga mat can start to fall apart after just a few weeks, very possibly leaving little bits around your home that you'll be vacuuming away for months. Since quality is key, we talked to some professional yoga teachers to find the best mats for your money, and which ones won't fall apart while you're trying to keep your Crow Pose together.
Best yoga mats
Hugger Mugger Tapas Yoga Mat: From $39.95
Emily Chen, a New York City yoga teacher with 62,500 followers on Instagram, and the founder of Alchemy School of Yoga, recommends Hugger Mugger "to anyone who wants to make their first investment in a yoga mat and stop buying cheap mats they have to throw away after a few months. HM delivers the same quality mat as all the other big-name brands, without the price tag," she says. "Hugger Mugger mats are durable and don’t flake away, even with a lot of use. They’re also sticky and just heavy enough to stay put when you practice, but not so heavy they’re hard to carry."
Jade Yoga Harmony Mat: $149
According to Chen, "Jade Yoga is the hands-down most popular studio yoga mat. They’re a universal favorite. They look classy, hold up after a lot of usage, are easy to clean and easy to carry." She says, "I don’t think you can go wrong with a Jade Yoga mat."
Manduka Pro Lite Yoga Mat: From $64
Based in Irvine, California, Kelly Clifton Turner has been practicing yoga for 20 years and teaching for 10. And when she first started out, she was buying off-the-rack mats that would fall apart in about a year. That's not something anyone will have to worry about with the Manduka Pro Lite. "The thought of spending $80-100 for a mat was insane when I could get one for $10-20 in other retailers," she says. "Once I made the leap, I finally got why the investment was worth it. I ended up buying a Manduka Pro Lite. I've had it now for over 10 years, and it's still in perfect shape. It's also more supportive on my joints if I'm practicing somewhere with hardwood or tile floors."
Heavy sweaters, lift your heads up high. Kelly Bryant, the founder of the Florida-based Kelly Bryant Wellness, has the mat for you. "The microfiber prevents slipping when you get sweaty, and the bonus is that it's really pretty!" she says. "The only thing I like people to know is that if you aren't sweaty, microfiber is actually more slippery than a regular mat, so some people like to dampen it with a little water at the beginning of their practice."
Best Yoga Mat for Travel
B Yoga Traveller Mat: $60
The B Mat is a nice half-way point for those who don't want to slip off the mat during the entire class but also don't want to lug around something heavy to and from the studio, according to Hina Sheikh, a yoga teacher and marketer for Anahana Wellness, a Toronto-based digital wellness company. "The sticky grip is perfect for stability, hot weather, or hot yoga classes," Sheikh says. "The travel mat is so lightweight you can easily fold it in your carry on luggage. Great for me as I'm always traveling or on the go."
Best Yoga Mat for Hot Yoga
Manduka PRO Yoga Mat: $120
If you prefer hot yoga, or just really like working up a sweat, it's important to find a mat that won't let you slide off. Based in Maine, Ali Betts has been in the yoga industry, managing and consulting with studios all over the U.S., since 2010, and has been teaching yoga since 2013. She calls the Manduka PRO Yoga Mat her "all-time favorite mat. It is the perfect thickness with the right amount of cushion, while still being firm enough that you don't sink into it, making your practice more difficult. It has a great grip that even during sweaty practices you won't slip on it."
The only downside she notes is that "it is heavier than other mats, but I believe the extra weight is worth it, especially for students who have sensitive joints." Though some might balk at the price tag, Betts notes that it comes with a lifetime guarantee, so it's "the best value for your money. You only have to buy a mat once instead of buying over and over which is the case with many other yoga mats on the market."
Best Cheap Yoga Mat
Almost any teacher or long-term yoga practicer will warn you away from cheap mats. But if you're on a budget, a very casual yoga practitioner or just want to try a class or two before you commit, then Anita Haravon, the founder of the New York-based All Things Yoga, recommends these classic mats from YOGA Accessories. But as you advance in your practice, just know that you're likely going to want to spend at least a little bit more
Best Yoga Mats for Instagram
Liforme Yoga Mat: $149.95
If you're doing yoga for the 'Gram anyway, you may as well go all out. Chen calls the Liforme Yoga Mat "the Instagram Yoga Teacher mat." "I have to admit, I have one too! It has the sheen finish of the Lululemon mat plus the stickiness of the Jade," she says. But the extra cost isn't just to look stylish. "What’s most unique is their AlignForMe system. Each mat is printed with alignment markers so you know exactly where to place your feet and hands to be symmetrical. It’s also a little longer and wider than most mats. If you have a serious yoga practice, this is the top of the line mat."
If you really commit to it, yoga can help you both feel better and look better. And to some people, it's important to look as stylish as possible while working out. Chen admits that "this Lululemon mat is a love-or-hate kind of mat — too controversial for a lot of studio usage, but some die-hard students bring it to every class." She admits that the main appeal for the die-hards is that Lululemon has "the most aesthetic, with a glossy sheen, and is a little less sticky than other mats. Some people love the less sticky feel and feel like they can move around better on it. I would try at a store and see what you think."