The Best Yoga Mats of 2019

The Best Yoga Mats

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To find the best yoga mat, we paired our own decades of yoga teaching experience with an analysis of half a dozen professional reviews. We considered reviews from testers of all skill levels. We also looked at reviews from Outdoor Gear Lab, Outside Magazine, Wirecutter, Thoroughly Reviewed, Yoga Journal, the Strategist (NY Magazine), GymGearInfo, and Women’s Health Magazine. We scanned thousands of user reviews on Amazon and ran our findings through FakeSpot to detect fraudulent praise, which is common in the yoga world, even among trusted brands.

We focused on yoga mats that had good traction, were versatile and could be used for many types of yoga.

The best overall yoga mats are Lululemon The Reversible Mat and Jade Harmony Professional Yoga Mat. These mats top our list because of materials, durability and traction and positive reviews from media and customers alike.


The best budget pick for someone just getting started is the True Blue Yoga Mat. This mat made our list because of its price, durability and traction.

 

 

jadeyogamat

The Best Yoga Mat (natural rubber)

Jade Yoga Harmony

Read why→

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The Best Yoga Mat (synthetic & rubber)

Lululemon The Reversible Mat

Read why→

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The Best Yoga Mat Upgrade (rubber-free)

Manduka Pro

Read why →

trueblueyogamat.JPG

The Best Budget Yoga Mat

True Blue Yoga Mat

Read why →

auroraesynergy

The Best Hot Yoga Mat

Aurorae Synergy yoga mat

Read why

 
 

Getting mats to stay flat is especially difficult outside. But this photo exhibits what can happen if when a mat doesn’t stay flat.

Getting mats to stay flat is especially difficult outside. But this photo exhibits what can happen if when a mat doesn’t stay flat.

What makes a good Yoga Mat

We think a good yoga mat should be durable, have good traction, be of adequate size, and be made from environmentally friendly-materials. We decided on these criteria based on the professional reviews we read and the most frequent comments in user reviews about yoga practitioner needs. We also considered this author’s 20+ years of teaching yoga and seeing what students like in a yoga mat.


Durable

Yoga mats can and should last for years.  Inferior mats often “chunk” away when your jewelry and/or finger and toenails touch that mat during practice. Most yoga mats that have chunked away end up in landfills. To minimize how often you’ll need to toss away your mats, choose a mat that is more durable. (When your durable mat does reach the end of its life, we have some suggestions of what to with old yoga mats instead of tossing them).

To get the most life out of your mat, we recommend regularly cleaning your mat and keeping it out of direct sunlight.  If you have jewelry that might tear the mat, consider removing the jewelry while you practice.

Good Traction

Many yoga poses need “stickiness,” aka good traction from the mat.  Downward Facing Dog and Triangle pose go a lot better when your hands and feet aren’t sliding. If your feet or hands slide when they should stay put, your mat isn’t doing its job and you will quickly toss it in the trash.  If you are doing downward dog on an ice skating rink, it would be impossible no matter how hard you work. Same with a really slippery mat. Occasionally, some students opt to put their mats aside sometimes (if we are working on non-slippery floor like hardwood) to get better sensitivity in the feet. But even if you like sensitivity in the feet, better to have a good mat with the option to go mat-less than to have a mat that never sticks.

Does it stay flat?

A good mat should roll out reasonably flat when unfurled and become completely flat within a minute or so.  A flat mat is safer (you won’t trip over it). It also means the material is more resilient.

In addition, we think you should choose your mat based on your own personal needs, including what type of yoga you practice, your body, and how you get to-and-from your yoga practice. See our how to choose section to find which is the best mat for you.


 
Choose a yoga mat that has adequate cushioning and a grippy surface.

Choose a yoga mat that has adequate cushioning and a grippy surface.

How to choose a yoga mat

In addition to choosing a mat that is durable with good traction, your mat should fit your body, yoga practice, lifestyle, and values. These differ from person to person, but should influence your decision.

Adequate Size

The yoga mat should be long enough for you to lay down on it and have your entire body on the mat, from head to heels. To find a good mat height, we generally recommend choosing a mat that is 4” taller or more than your height.

Choosing a slightly longer yoga mat will accommodate rolling a blanket for your head during certain poses. It also allows for poses done on one’s back with straight legs (which is common in the way I teach).  Every yoga class ends with Savasana, corpse pose. It can be annoying and distracting during Savasana if your heels are on the bare floor, or your head is slightly lower than the shoulders in a supine pose. That’s why if you can find a mat that is 4” longer than you are tall, you should opt for it, even if it costs a little extra.

But sometimes, adding 4” to one’s height might mean that tall people can’t find a long enough mat. If it’s an option, choose a mat that is longer than you are tall. If it isn’t available, choose one that is at least as long as you are tall.

Portability

This wasn’t a make-or-break-it decision factor for us, but it will be for some people. If you are a bike commuter or walk to your yoga studio, choose a mat that is sub-10 pounds and relatively unbulky.

Do you need wet or dry traction? Or both?

If you are doing a heated form of yoga or tend to perspire a lot, you may need a mat that performs better for “wet-traction” situations.   If you are doing room temperature yoga (Iyengar, Hatha, gentle) then dry-traction will be adequate.

Cushioning

In inferior yoga mats, the stability of the mat is usually too cushy, leading to challenges in balancing poses.  

Materials

Some mats contain rubber or latex, which can cause an allergic reaction to some people. Rubber mats--even natural rubber mats--are not a good option if you have allergies.

But if you know you have an allergy, there’s plenty of options that are allergen free. We note whether each mat we suggest is suitable for someone avoiding rubber.

In addition, customer reviews show that yoga mat users prefer eco-friendly materials, so we dedicated a whole section on that below.

 

The author never misses an opportunity to practice yoga outside.   Photo courtesy Nina Pileggi.

The author never misses an opportunity to practice yoga outside. Photo courtesy Nina Pileggi.

What is the most eco-friendly mat?

Eco-friendly

The yoga world is full of greenwashing--companies that use marketing terms to make their products seem more eco-friendly than they really may be. It’s hard to tell what is actually environmentally friendly and what is just marketing. It’s also difficult to find transparent actual data backing up some yoga-mat manufacturers’ claims.

To find the most eco-friendly mats, we tackled the question analytically. To reduce the impact on the environment, you must consider how eco-friendly the mat is over the course of its entire life. That includes thinking about how the mat is made (manufacturing process), resources that go into transportation, its impact on your health and the environment during use, and what happens after you dispose of it.

Yoga outdoors is gaining in popularity.

Your yoga mat should be made from materials that don’t create harmful chemicals as byproducts during the manufacturing phase. The problem is that every manufacturing process has some emissions. Take the Manduka Pro series, for example. Manduka says the PRO series are “manufactured through a process that ensures no toxic emissions are released into the atmosphere.”

To verify the validity of that claim, we interviewed several environmental experts who research factory-generated waste and a Treeline Review staff member whose previous job was to inspect factories that manufacture PVC.

Most processes that require molding, melting, or plasticizers will generate some air emissions. But, factories can use technology like fume hoods or scrubbers to capture air emissions as solid or liquid waste.

This is generally preferable to those emissions going into the air, as they can be stabilized, controlled, and disposed of in a landfill that is lined against leaching chemicals into the soil or groundwater. But at the end of the day, the manufacturing process still generates waste.

Regardless of what a product is made of or how a product is made, it has an environmental cost. No manufacturing process is waste free. Every item that is made--no matter how eco-friendly--has a net carbon footprint and an emissions footprint. In some instances, natural rubber, for example, can be worse for the environment than synthetic rubber if it came from a plantation created by converting rainforest into rubber tree farms.

What’s in your yoga mat? That question may be harder to answer than you think.

What’s in your yoga mat? That question may be harder to answer than you think.

When you choose a yoga mat, you should feel comfortable about the chemicals it is made of (note: “chemicals” isn’t a bad word; everything is made of chemicals, but some chemicals are worse than others). So, if you’re chemical wary, what should you look for?

Several of the mats we considered are free of PVC, polyvinyl chloride. This is the same material as the plumbing pipe that goes by the same name. Many yogis try to avoid PVC because some contain phthalates, which are a known hormone disruptor. However, there are some PVC yoga mats that meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requirements for children’s toys--the strictest U.S. standards for measuring whether a product has phthalates or used them in the manufacturing process.


If you are concerned about phthalates, you should look for a yoga mat that meets those children’s toys standards stating it is free of:

  • di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP),

  • dibutyl phthalate (DBP),

  • benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP),

  • diisononyl phthalate (DINP),

  • diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP),

  • di-n-pentyl phthalate (DPENP),

  • di-n-hexyl phthalate (DHEXP), and

  • dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP).

Natural rubber shown coming out of the tree!


Mats made from biodegradable materials will have the least impact on the planet during the disposal part of its life. Natural rubber will break down over time through natural oxidation and chemical reactions. Certain cacteria and fungi evolved to break down natural rubber. In the process, they create byproducts of water, methane, and/or carbon dioxide. A soil or environment rich in microorganisms and oxygen will help speed up this process. But even if you can’t find a way to recycle your mat, a natural rubber mat will biodegrade slowly even in a landfill, though hopefully it won’t be consumed by wildlife first.

While we at Treeline Review generally think that opting for used gear is a great eco-friendly option, yoga mats have some hygiene issues involved (Athlete’s foot, anyone?). As with all gear recommended by Treeline Review, the most eco-friendly option is to stick with what you’ve got until you really need to replace it.

We think the most eco-friendly choice you can make is to buy a high-quality mat that you love and that will last a long time. One of the biggest environment impacts that yoga mats create is at their end of life when they go in the landfill. If you buy a mat you love, you won’t throw it away until it really is too worn to use.

 

 
Look for the “Goldilocks” level of cushioning - not too little, not too much, but just right.

Look for the “Goldilocks” level of cushioning - not too little, not too much, but just right.

How to recycle or reuse a yoga mat

If you care about the environmental footprint of your mat, we think it’s important that you think about what you do when your mat is no longer usable for yoga. Manduka works with the Renewal Workshop to take-back any company’s yoga mat made of any materials. While this is something we support, Manduka will only take back your old mat if you buy a new mat from them, so we’re not convinced it isn’t at least partially a marketing gimmick..

Unfortunately, Wirecutter reports that other companies have ended their take-back practice because of the large transportation footprint of recycling. One reason, they suggest, is that yoga mats aren’t as easy to recycle as we may think.

Rubber recycling is a long process with a lot of players involved. A roadblock of just one of those steps can stop the whole cycle.

Notably, recycling centers need a certain volume of goods coming in to make the scaling profitable. They also need consistent uniform quality in what they’re recycling. Yoga mats have so many added dyes, plasticizers, and foot gunk that it’s hard for recycling companies to melt the mats down into a new, quality “rubber.”

Even if recyclers were to grind up the mats and turn them into home insulation and running tracks (as Manduka and the Renewal Workshop do), there just isn’t the volume of mats coming in to make it worth most recycling companies’ time. We see commercial recyclers turning old rubber tires into playground matting. But people just don’t go through yoga mats like they do through car tires.

Instead, it seems that the best thing to do with old yoga mats is to reuse them ourselves. The folks at Apartment Therapy and HGTV (who knew they cared about recycling?) suggest how you can give old yoga mats a new life. For example, old yoga mats can be cut smaller pieces for use with yoga props, or for traction needs in the garage.

 

The author demonstrating in a yoga class.   Photo courtesy Nina Pileggi.

How we choose which yoga mats are worth writing about

We chose to write about yoga mats that professional reviewers gave high scores in the above four categories: durability, traction, size, and eco-friendly materials.  We also considered mats with a variety of thicknesses for different purposes.

The best yoga mats can be purchased for between $26 and $88.   Spending less will get you a non-sticky mat and spending more generally gives you thickness and size that you don’t need.

The reviews we analyzed are based on tests conducted on the mats. Outdoor Gear Lab tested mats for traction under both wet and dry conditions. Wet conditions mean dampness created by sweat due to practicing in a heated room.  Dry conditions occur in room temperature yoga classes. Outdoor Gear Lab and Wirecutter also tested the mats in different styles of yoga, with Wirecutter having instructors of different styles test the yoga mats.

Outdoor Gear Lab included portability in their rankings. We think that can be one of the most important factors for some people, but didn’t influence the mats we chose. Why? Because in our experience, even in Portland most people aren’t biking or walking to yoga classes everyday.

Lastly, to corroborate our findings, Treeline review writers and editors personally bought and tested most of the mats that made our list. Our findings and opinions are described below.

 

The author demonstrating Tree Pose in the Sierra mountains.   Photo courtesy Nina Pileggi.

The author demonstrating Tree Pose in the Sierra mountains. Photo courtesy Nina Pileggi.

How we researched

We researched reviews on best yoga mats from (alphabetically): Gym Gear Info, Outdoor Gear Lab, Outside Magazine, The Strategist (New York Magazine), Thoroughly Reviewed, Wirecutter, Women’s Health Magazine, and Yoga Journal. We found other reviews that were promising such as those by MarieClaire, but decided not to use their findings because the yogis they interviewed for the story were ambassadors for yoga brands.

Yoga is an activity where gear recommendations are often given by influencers. To keep our findings objective, we tried to stick with comparative reviews or reviews that used multiple testers and data points to come to their conclusions.

Author’s Expertise

In addition to professional reviews, I relied on my own experience. I’ve taught Iyengar Yoga for over 19 years as a Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor.

I rank as the second highest level among Certified Iyengar Yoga Teachers in Oregon, the state where I live.

For 18 years, I was the director of Sunset Yoga Center in Portland, Oregon (previously in Cedar Mill, Oregon) overseeing and mentoring nine instructors. Now, I teach a quarterly Iyengar Yoga Teacher Education program.

I hold a three-year therapeutic yoga teacher certification sponsored by Iyengar Yoga Therapeutics, am a Certified Yoga Therapist and have made four trips to Pune, India to study with the Iyengar family.

I serve on the Iyengar Yoga National Association of the United States certification committee.

 

A picture of the rolled up Jade Harmony Professional Yoga mat, our pick for best overall yoga mat.

Best Overall Yoga Mat


The Jade Harmony Professional Yoga Mat was one of the top picks in almost all the sites we reviewed. It was highly rated by Outside Magazine, Outdoor Gear Lab, Wirecutter, Women's Health Magazine, Gymgearinfo.com, and Thorougly Reviewed. It is made in the US of 100% natural Rubber, with no PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and is praised for being extremely grippy.


Professional reviewers liked the traction and the stability of this mat. Reviewers also like the company’s environmental practices because the mat is made in US in compliance with US environmental laws. It is the only mat that is 100% rubber and the company plants a tree for every mat sold.


The Jade Harmony Professional Yoga Mat is our top pick.

Wirecutter chose this mat as a close second to the Lululemon mat. Wirecutter’s reviewers liked this mat “because it absorbs a lot of moisture and helps maintain traction in sweaty situations.”

One potential mark against this mat is that it was described as having a strong rubber smell. Additionally, some reviewers found that it can be too grippy such that it can be hard to move from one pose to another.

A photo of the rolled-up Jade Harmony Professional yoga mat, our pick for best overall yoga mat.

Some customer reviewers complained that if you leave the Jade Harmony mat in the sun, it’s stickiness goes away. Several Treeline team members own this mat and agree. But really--we’ve accepted this as our own fault. No mat should be left in the sun (including in the back of a car), where UV rays can degrade.


In our practice on the Jade Harmony mat, we loved it for being very grippy with the right amount of “cush.” But once again--don't leave this mat in the sun.


The Jade Harmony mat has the second highest Amazon customer rating we’ve saw, 4.4 out of 5 stars over more than 2000 reviews. But when we ran it through Fakespot, we received a D-rating. We still highly recommend this mat, though. Why? Because it was highly rated by so many other reliable sources. It’s also ranked as Amazon’s Choice, which we trust as judging high quality items relative to their price. Lastly, our team members purchased and tested this pick for over a year and agree with the professional reviewers’ findings about its grippiness.


 

Lululemon’s The Reversible Mat is our pick for most versatile yoga mat.

Best Overall-Most Versatile


Lululemon's The Reversible Mat was named as best for most people by Wirecutter and Outside Magazine and received second place in Outdoor Gear Lab’s rankings. It also received positive reviews in Yoga Journal. The reviewers seemed to agree that this mat gets high scores for both wet and dry traction, durability, comfort, and stability.


One reason why it is highly rated is because it is reversible. What does a reversible mat mean? Who would want reversible mat? Different textures and traction makes it versatile for different conditions and types of classes.


It’s made of polyurethane, rubber, and latex, so isn’t suitable for people with rubber allergies. There is also an "antimicrobial additive" which is supposed to "prevent the growth of mold, bacteria and fungi."


Outdoor Gear Lab states: “Lululemon's The Reversible Mat was one of our testers' favorite mats. It's impressively sticky, both when dry and wet, easy to wipe clean, and comfortable and stable to practice on.”


The major downside of this mat is that multiple reviewers describe it as having a strong rubber smell. Other common complaints are that it is heavy, has a strong odor, and is easily scratched.


 

Downward dog pose on the Manduka PRO yoga mat.

Best Luxury Rubber-Free Yoga Mat


The Manduka PRO (and the PROlite version) was the top non-rubber mat. Outdoor Gear Lab gave it Top Pick for Comfort award. Outdoor Gear Lab gave it top marks for durability and ease of care. It was also liked by Thoroughly Reviewed, Yoga Journal, and Outside Magazine. Reviews praise it for having lots of padding. It’s the only mat we considered with a lifetime guarantee.


The Manduka PRO is available in two versions: the PRO and the PROlite. My personal mat is PROlite version. The PROlite is not at thick as the PRO mat, but the material is the same. I have found the PROlite to be extremely durable, stable and sticky enough.


An arm balance pose demonstration.

Although the Manduka PRO and PROlite mats are made of PVC, Manduka says the PRO series are “manufactured through a process that ensures no toxic emissions are released into the atmosphere.” We’re somewhat skeptical (see our environmental section to learn more), but we are optimistic about how the Manduka PRO is certified safe for human contact by OEKO-TEX®*, a material certification agency in Europe for the textile industry. The Manduka mat is also free of “toxic chemicals, dyes, and phthlates.” They don’t define toxic chemicals--so we aren’t sure what they mean by that. But we do know that dye manufacturing can generate waste, so we think it’s a good thing these mats are without. We discuss phthlates above. They’ve been identified by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as a known hormone disruptor, so many yogis avoid them.


A demonstration of a side bend pose.

Lots of reviews say the Manduka PRO is slippery when wet and dry. My personal experience is that it has good traction for a non-heated class. For a heated class, we recommend the Aurorae Synergy, our hot yoga pick.


The other complaints about this Manduka PRO is that it is heavy and bulky. This is most likely to be a concern for bike or walking commuters. If you suspect you’ll be biking or walking to your yoga practice, we recommend a less bulky mat like PROlite version of this mat, or the True Blue yoga mat.


 

The author in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) on the True Blue yoga mat, our budget pick.   Photo courtesy Nina Pileggi.

The author in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) on the True Blue yoga mat, our budget pick. Photo courtesy Nina Pileggi.

Budget Pick


For those just starting out or those who like a thin, grippy mat for standing poses, we like the True Blue yoga mat. This mat did not show up in any reviews but we recommend it over mainstream budget yoga mats because of our personal experience with it. It has excellent grip and (unique among budget mats) a long lasting life. The True Blue Yoga mat is also good for standing poses due to its thinness (2mm).


As a former yoga center owner, these were the first yoga mats I bought to have on hand for student use. The mats are sticky and extremely durable - some of the mats lasted 15+ years at the yoga center after being used by hundreds of students. Some chunks did appear after many years of use, but we think that is to be expected after that much use and that many years, especially for a mat of this price.


These yoga mats can be ordered in three different lengths. They are made from high grade PVC (AZO, DOP, phthalate and latex free), so are suitable for those allergic to rubber and yogis avoiding phthlates.


The one complaint we have about this mat is that it can be too thin for some people’s knees. It’s very thin (2mm). For floor work, more padding might be needed.


True Blue isn’t a major yoga company, so we suspect they don’t have the marketing budget that some of the other “budget” mat companies have. But given our personal experience, there isn’t a better budget mat to be had.


 
 

The Aurorae Synergy yoga mat is our top pick for hot yoga.

Best for Hot Yoga


We think the Aurorae Synergy yoga mat is the best for hot yoga and yogis with sweaty palms. Outdoor Gear Lab ranked it #3, saying it has “great traction when wet, easy to care for when doing hot yoga.”


The Aurorae Synergy mat has a microfiber towel top surface. That is bonded to a PER (Polymer Environmental Resin) bottom. This system works because the towel absorbs sweat. Meanwhile, the bottom section keeps it from slipping due to sweat-induced wetness.


Some customers complained that there is not as much cushion as a regular 5mm mat and that it is somewhat slippery when dry.


The Aurorae Synergy also has the highest rating on Amazon that we saw: 4.6 out of 5 stars on over 1000 reviews. We were skeptical of the Amazon reviews and ran it through FakeSpot only to discover that many of those 1,000 reviews were potentially fraudulent.


But we’re still recommending this mat for hot yoga and sweaty people. Why? Because this mat was beloved by Outdoor Gear Lab’s testers and because it is ranked as Amazon’s Choice. We usually find that items that get the Amazon Choice label are high quality relative to their price.


 


Yoga outside at sunset.