The most common piece of advice that I have been asked for since lockdown began is “which yoga mat should I buy?”.
As we transition to a home-based practice, many of us have suddenly had to invest in a yoga mat. Given the number of choices out there, this can be a fairly confusing decision, even if you are not an optimiser/maximiser like me (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read Barry Schartz’s Paradox of choice, it is pretty illuminating!). There is nothing worse than using your new mat for the first time, only to find that your down dog has suddenly become a slide dog.
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of research (I said, optimiser/maximiser!), rejected, tried and bought a lot of mats. I could say that I’ve done it to save you time, but that would be a lie, I just really like to do research! This is my list of the best mats out there, and hopefully it will help someone make their new mat purchase decision.
(If you are reading this during lockdown, then apologies but looks like most mats are sold out everywhere! I guess everyone stocked up for their home practice).
Best for grip and stability
The Liforme mat
At £100 (plus shipping, cheeky, I know! you would think they would at least give you free shipping), the Liforme is definitely an investment mat. But if you are serious about your practice, it is completely worth it:
- This 4.2mm mat has incredible grip, as long as you keep it clean. Whatever they’ve done to the natural rubber surface means that both your hands and feet stay firmly in place.
- The alignment markings are very helpful in knowing where to place your body in practice.
- It feels really solid (no sinking it), which I think has helped me with balances and inversions by creating a stable foundation.
- It lasts! I’ve had mine for almost 5 years and it’s still going strong (although I don’t use it exclusively).
- There is an extra-long version for those of you who are tall and find yourself off-mat a lot.
Negatives: It’s expensive and shows dirt and wear easily. I would definitely stay clear of the white one! It’s also really heavy (2.5kg!), which is why I only use mine for home practice (but there’s a travel version for that, see below).
The Yoga Studio mat has a similar surface to the Liforme, and is half the price. If you’ve every practiced at a MoreYoga studio, this is the mat they use, and it’s a pretty solid choice. Yoga Studio also has an alignment mat, which has the helpful alignment markings. Both are 4mm and weigh 2.4kg.
Yogi Bare’s Paws mat (4mm) also looks very similar to the Liforme and is almost half the price. I haven’t tried this one but I would be tempted to buy it in future.
UPDATE: I have now bought the Paws mat and I love it. I’ve had it for 6 months now using it almost daily, and it is great.
Wild card: The EcoYoga mat
This mat was a gamechanger for me. All the mats I’d had before had been horrible and slippy, but this has fantastic grip thanks to the jute that is mixed in with the natural rubber. I absolutely loved it (even loved it’s smell) for its grip and stability.
As the EcoYoga mat is natural, it does start to break down after a while, so 2 years in it was shedding a little too much and I retired it. But at under £50, this is a really solid choice and I would definitely consider buying it again.
It is 4mm, weighs 2kg and comes in an extra long version and a mini version for kids.
Best travel mat
The Liforme travel mat: favourite for ‘solo’ use
This is the 2mm version of the full Liforme that weighs considerably less (1.6kg), so it’s a lot more portable, albeit still fairly heavy. What I like about this though is that it is solid enough to be used on its own – I have taken to retreats and teacher trainings and used it alone, without feeling like I am practicing directly on the floor. An even better option for solo use is using this together with the pad to provide more cushioning on knees etc.
Jade Voyager mat and Manduka Superlite: favourites as an extra layer
Sometimes you don’t want to carry a mat around town all day, so an extra thin mat that you can fold and put in your backpack is the perfect choice. The Jade Voyager and the Manduka Eko Superlite are only 1.6mm and weigh just over 0.5kg, and, although you are not supposed to, can be folded up and packed into your bag.
I would definitely not recommend using either of these alone, as they are incredibly thin, but instead use as a layer on top of a studio mat. Having said that, when space is at a premium while travelling, I do tend to take one of these two.
Best for hot yoga
YogiBare Teddy mat
Most hot yogis use towels, but if you would prefer to try a mat, then the Teddy mat is a great choice. It has a towel-like surface so gets grippier as your hands sweat, plus it can be washed in the washing machine, which is, let’s be honest, a pretty good idea after hot yoga. I didn’t find it very grippy in non-hot yoga classes, so I sold it when I finally admitted that I hate hot yoga and never want to do it again (I don’t know why it took me so long to admit it).
The ladies at Aladastra have designed some really beautiful mats to inspire your practice. I have one of their super grip mats and it’s pretty decent grip wise so if you are not a super-sweaty-palmed person like me, it’s a decent choice.
As a non-rubber, PVC mat, it is significantly lighter than any of the ones listed above (1.2kg so less than the travel Liforme) and therefore much better for lugging around. However, I personally prefer the rubber surface to the PVC surface for practice.