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The best yoga mats of 2021

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Not all yoga mats are created equally. Key things to keep in mind when mat shopping are grip, thickness, material and size — not to mention your preferred workout. If you’re an advanced yogi who prefers feeling rooted to the floor, for example, you’re going to want a thinner mat. Recovering from an old knee injury? Opt for a mat with extra cushion to protect your pressure points; we’d recommend a thickness of at least 5 millimeters.

You’ll also want to consider where you’ll be downward dogging for the foreseeable future. If your workout space is a carpeted room, for instance, you want a heavier mat with textured grooves so it doesn’t slide. If you’re sneaking in your sessions on hardwood, a cushiony mat that grips the floor is going to be your jam.

After researching top-rated and editor-favorite mats, we settled on a pool of nine that we rigorously tested with multiple at-home yoga workouts. The good news, other than the fact that we’ve never been so limber in our lives, is that we found a few clear standouts across key categories that we feel will cover most people’s needs:

Pretty much everything Lululemon makes is steeped in good design and quality materials, and that includes our overall winner, the Reversible Mat 5MM (starting at $68; lululemon.com). Hands down our favorite feature of the mat is the fact that it’s dual-sided, allowing the user to decide if they want to Ashtanga on the smooth and sticky polyurethane-coated top side or the textured natural rubber bottom side that provides loads of traction. Beyond that, though, we also loved that the mat is slightly oversized and provides ample cushion given its 5-millimeter thickness.

While the ultra-slim, extremely foldable nature of the Manduka Eko Superlite Travel Yoga Mat ($44; amazon.com) is appealing in and of itself (especially for frequent travelers), it’s also our favorite zero-slip option, with supreme grip and complete floor stability. And as if that news wasn’t good enough, the mat is also totally eco-friendly, made from biodegradable natural tree rubber.

Because we’re always, always looking for an extra supportive mat, we’re thrilled to include Gaiam’s Premium Yoga Mat (starting at $24; amazon.com) on our list, earning it the best thick yoga mat title that also wins bonus points for its under-$30 price tag. Available in more than two dozen fun patterns and designs, the PVC (aka a synthetic rubber called polyvinyl chloride) mat boasts 6 millimeters of cushion and features a deep texture that ensures little to no slipping. While it doesn’t have the extreme grip we found in the Lululemon Reversible Mat, the Gaiam is a perfect entry mat for beginner yogis and anyone on the hunt for a quality thick mat.

Think all yoga is alike? Think again! Hot yoga is an entirely different (and hotter) animal, and regular practitioners can definitely rely on the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat 6MM ($120; amazon.com or manduka.com) to withstand the sheer amount of sweat produced in one sweltering class. Ultra-dense, the PVC mat’s weight works to cement it into your flooring, while it’s ultra-tacky topside features a state of the art texture that results in a no-slip grip — yes, even when you’re dripping in sweat.

While beginners could certainly fare well with any of the mats on our list, they’re sure to set themselves up for success with the Liforme Original Yoga Mat ($149.95; amazon.com). The Rolls Royce of yoga mats, the Liforme is much sleeker and bigger than standard options — it clocks in at 72 long x 27 inches wide — and it comes with more than a dozen alignment markers that show users exactly where they should be placing their hands and feet, whether they’re standing, lunging, downward dogging or even just lying on their back. Working as a navigational tool of sorts, the markers are especially helpful for beginners practicing at home without a live instructor present to correct their form.

Best yoga mat overall: Lululemon Reversible Mat 5MM (starting at $68; lululemon.com)

Lululemon Reversible Mat 5MM
PHOTO: Courtney Thompson/CNN
Lululemon Reversible Mat 5MM

Lululemon’s Reversible Mat topped our list for a lot of reasons, chief among them that the mat has two sides, making it the most versatile option we tested. After all, who doesn’t love a twofer? Users can choose between a smooth or textured mat (for one price!), and we found that regardless of which side you use, the mat provides superior stability — its hand and feet gripping is unmatched, and it never slipped when placed on hardwood or carpeted flooring.

The mat’s top layer is coated with polyurethane, which we found to be excellent at absorbing moisture, and it feels silky smooth under your hands and feet, with a sticky effect that’s great for sweatier workouts. The textured natural rubber base layer is definitely geared more toward low-sweat workouts, but provides equally superior traction when in use.

We found the Reversible Mat’s 5 millimeters of cushioning ample enough to provide support to sensitive areas (i.e., weak wrists, hips, etc.), masking the hard floor underneath. It’s also slightly larger than the standard yoga mat (which typically measures 68 by 24 inches), coming in 3 inches longer and 2 inches wider than most — enough to provide you a bit more coverage without being too huge. That said, if you do want huge (84 by 28 inches), this exact mat comes in a much bigger format.

While the brand warns of an out-of-box odor, we detected a faint scent that had completely dissipated after just a few minutes. In terms of cleaning, the smooth side wipes down in one quick pass of a soapy cloth, while the textured side unsurprisingly took a bit longer, given its matte nature. One downside is that the mat doesn’t come with a bag or strap, and given its size and 5.24-pound weight, it’s a bit clunky to carry around solo. Lululemon sells a variety of carrying accessories, starting at $16.

Epitomizing the marriage of form and function, the dreamy design has the mesmerizing effect of a lava lamp with it’s tie dye-esque pattern that is currently available in red/pink and black/white colorways. Point being: You’re going to look like a total pro with this mat, whether you’re rolling into a (socially distanced) class or practicing from home. Last, but definitely not least, Lululemon’s got your back with this “Quality Promise” policy that ensures if the mat doesn’t perform to your expectations, the brand will take it back for the lifetime of the product.

Best non-slip yoga mat: Manduka eKO Superlite Yoga and Pilates Travel Mat ($44; amazon.com)

Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Yoga Mat
PHOTO: Courtney Thompson/CNN
Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Yoga Mat

What we love most about the Manduka eKO Superlite Yoga and Pilates Travel Mat is that if you took away its portability selling points (more on those below!), it’s a superior non-slip mat. Here’s why: While it’s light enough to travel with, the mat still maintains enough weight to stick to the floor and stay put, whether it’s on hard surfaces or carpet — which is rare for a thinner, lightweight mat. But the mat’s chief asset is the excellent grip provided by its tightly woven surface. With a slightly dimpled appearance and a tacky texture, the mat provided tons of traction and stability during even our sweatiest workouts.

While traveling might not be part of our current agendas, it’s certainly something we’re all hoping for in the near future, and if you’re someone who loves to do yoga on the road — or someone who lives in a small space and simply wants a yoga mat that can be easily tucked away — look no further than this mat. Weighing only 2.2 pounds (most standard mats clock in around 5-plus pounds), the 1.5-millimeter thick mat can be folded into a 10-by-12-inch rectangle that can be neatly tucked into your tote, backpack or suitcase.

In terms of cushioning, there isn’t much here, which is to be expected from a super portable mat (and why it didn’t snag our overall winning spot). If you’re someone who loves a sponge-y mat with extra padding, this is not the option for you. But lots of advanced yogis prefer a thinner mat as they provide greater stability, especially when practicing more active or focused poses.

Eco-friendly shoppers are sure to delight in just how sustainable this mat choice is. Completely free of toxic chemicals, dyes and latex, it’s made from sustainably harvested, non-Amazon tree rubber in a zero-waste manufacturing facility. Did we mention that it’s completely biodegradable, too? Yes, really.

Moral of the story here is that if you’re looking for a zero-slip yoga mat option with incredible portability and a whole slew of feel-good, eco-friendly selling points, this is it. More great news: It’s under $50 and Manduka offers a lifetime guarantee.

Best thick yoga mat: Gaiam Premium Yoga Mat 6MM (starting at $24; amazon.com)

Gaiam Premium Yoga Mat
PHOTO: Courtney Thompson/CNN
Gaiam Premium Yoga Mat

Chock full of springy, PVC cushion, the rubber-free Gaiam Premium Yoga Mat is perfect for anyone looking for a little extra support for their elbows and knees during their weekly Cat Cow poses. Clocking in at six millimeters thick, the mat is twice as thick as most on the market, providing loads of joint protection. More about that thickness: Though it’s a whopping 6 millimeters, the mat feels more dense than sponge-like — meaning we had zero problems finding stability, even with the extra cushion underfoot.

While the grip isn’t quite as firm as the Lululemon Reversible Mat, it is still among the strongest we tested, and definitely the best of the cheap-ish options. Featuring a surface full of tiny textured grooves, the mat has a tacky feel, offering up lots of spring-y traction, even during sweatier sessions. That said, if you’re someone who wanted to feel completely cemented into your mat, the Lululemon Reversible is going to be a better choice.

Another major selling point? That price. Not everyone wants to spend a small fortune on a yoga mat… us included! If you want to get the most bang for your buck, this is the absolute best choice at this price point.

One of our favorite details about the Gaiam mat, however, is that it weighs only 3.4 pounds, making it ultra-lightweight for a mat that is also ultra-thick. While it doesn’t come with a strap or bag, it is a bit easier to transport because it’s lighter than most. Given its diminutive mass, however, we did find the mat took a few days to uncurl completely at the ends upon initial use.

Boasting a lifetime guarantee from Gaiam, the mat, which is free of latex and phthalates, is available in 30 colorways (the most of any mat on this list!), ranging from jewel-toned tribal patterns to sedate darker designs, and each comes with one free yoga class that can be downloaded from the Gaiam app.

With more than 12,000 positive Amazon reviews and a 4.7-star rating, this Gaiam mat is a customer favorite, too, and it’s easy to see why.

Best hot yoga mat: Manduka Pro Yoga Mat 6MM ($120; amazon.com or manduka.com)

Manduka Pro Yoga Mat 6MM
PHOTO: Amazon
Manduka Pro Yoga Mat 6MM

One of the best overall mats we tested, the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat is just that — made for pros! Specifically, pros who love nothing more than a sweatier-than-thou workout. Even if you’re not a typically sweaty person, hot yoga classes are held at temperatures ranging from 90 degrees up to 108, with loads of humidity in there, too. Point being: You’re going to be dripping, and you definitely want a no-slip mat that can withstand all that wetness. Enter: Manduka Pro Yoga Mat.

A beast in its own right, the 6-millimeters-thick mat is beloved by advanced yogis and instructors alike for its density and top and underside gripping, all of which were the reasons we felt it performed better than any other mat we tested during hot yoga. Clocking in at a whopping 7.5 pounds, the PVC mat’s sheer weight anchors it to the floor and ensures a stable workout. The Pro’s top-side texture comprises vertical and horizontal grooves that produced some of the best grip we experienced during testing, even when we had sweat dripping all over the place. The underside also has tons of grip, in the form of a rugged dot pattern that we found stayed put on both carpeted and hardwood floors.

The brand recommends breaking in the mat prior to the first use, which we did, by sprinkling the surface with salt and letting it sit in the sun for 24 hours, then wiping it down with a damp cloth — a process that is a little tedious when really you just want to get going with your workout. Another negative: Given it’s heavier-than-most weight, portability can be a bear, and it doesn’t come with a strap or bag.

All in all, however, we found the Manduka Pro to be an excellent mat for both hot yoga and regular yoga devotees, and thus worthy of its steep price point. Not only is it backed by a lifetime warranty from Manduka, the mat is also Oeko-Tex-certified and latex-free.

Best yoga mat for beginners: Liforme Original Yoga Mat ($149.95; amazon.com)

Liforme Original Yoga Mat
PHOTO: Amazon
Liforme Original Yoga Mat

The Liforme Original Yoga Mat is a great mat on its own, not to mention fancy — we love the smooth, almost silky top side and dense, 4.2-millimeter-thick natural rubber cushion. An investment, sure, but its alignment markers are a true highlight not found on most other mats. Giving cues to newbie and pro yogis alike, the subtle design of the mat works as a cheat sheet for beginners, making hand and foot placement much steadier (and easier!) during your yoga practices, especially for those of us who are getting our namaste on from home, without the positioning help from a live instructor.

Available in five happy colors (from a pretty pink to kelly green), the mat features more than a dozen indicators (etched in a slightly darker shade of the mat’s color) from top to bottom, including end to end lines that keeps hands and feet parallel lengthways, reverse points that keep your hands and feet even when on your back, central lines that keep you centered widthways, and 45-degree lines that align your back heels when in standing postures. Having used these markers in our own workouts, we felt more confident as we glided through the motions, knowing that each of our poses was not only accurate, but also safe, preventing any unwanted injuries that could occur when left to our own (somewhat uneducated) devices. Those lines also helped us to achieve optimal results, too, learning exactly where we should be on the mat and thus, how our bodies should feel in those positions.

Beyond the mat’s built-in tutorial, we also totally appreciated its grip. Covered in an eco-polyurethane layer on the top side, the Liforme mat delivers a no-slip grip that lends itself to a very stable, secure flow. And then there’s the mat’s eco-friendly nature. Calling itself the “most planet friendly yoga mat,” Liforme is composed of naturally-sourced sustainable rubber, is PVC-free, has no toxic ingredients and is biodegradable in one to five years in the rare chance it ends up in a landfill.

Sadly, sustainability isn’t cheap, especially when it comes in the form of a professional-grade yoga mat. The good news is that this is the only mat we tested that came with a sleek carry case, which in our minds, helps to further justify that $140 price tag.

How we tested

We said it before and we’ll say it again — there are a lot of yoga mats out there! To determine our test pool, we scoured the market for bestsellers, top-rated mats, editor favorites and critically hailed options. From there we tested nine yoga mats with a minimum of three yoga sessions each, ranging from Vinyasa Flow and Hatha-style classes to sweat-inducing Power Yoga, and we did so atop both carpet and hardwood flooring to assess each mat’s stability level on different surfaces. Our testing process lasted for more than a month and during those many, many yoga practices, we also evaluated the following criteria.

Function

  • Thickness/support: This category was majorly important, and where we looked at not only the exact thickness of each mat, but also how supportive and stable each one was. A quick backstory: Thinner mats tend to be preferred by longtime yogis who desire the utmost stability, while feeling rooted to the floor; thicker mats are much gentler on the joints (especially the knees and wrists), are beneficial to anyone recovering from an injury and and can range from dense and stable to sponge-y and unpredictable depending on their constitution.
  • Grip: Here we noted how well the hands and feet could grip the mat’s material, both when dry and when exposed to, say, sweat dripping from your forehead.
  • Ability to lie flat: Can the mat roll flat right out of the box? If not, how many hours or days did it lie completely flat?
  • Portability: Does the mat come with a strap or bag? How heavy and bulky is the mat? Is it easy enough to carry to and from a class?
  • Size: The standard yoga mat size is 68 inches by 24-inches, and we assessed if each mat in our pool is on par or larger than that standard.

Material

  • Feel under skin: For this category we assessed the textures and top coats of our test pool, and how they felt under our hands and feet as we glided through our yoga practices.
  • Eco-friendly/sustainable attributes: Here we took a look at how eco-friendly both mat itself and its maker are. Is the mat made from natural rubber? If it’s a PVC mat, is it free of phthalates and other toxic ingredients? Is it produced in a zero-waste facility? Is the mat biodegradable? Does it have an Oeko-Tex certification (which declares it free of harmful substances)? As for the brand, how invested in eco practices are they?
  • Odor: Some mats are known to give on an initial, unappealing smell, so we gave each mat a thorough sniff test.
  • Ease of cleaning: Most manufacturers recommend wiping down your mat with a warm, soapy cloth after each use — but cleaning each mat is not always simple given their texture and composition. We noted how easy (or not!) the cleaning process was.

Options

  • Size availability: We noted if the mat is available in multiple lengths or widths.
  • Color/pattern choices: We noted how many colorways and/or patterns the mat is available in.

Warranty: We looked into each product’s warranty, if it had one, and how many years it covers.

How we rated

Based upon the categories and criteria listed above, we gave the mats a score in each subcategory, then combined those numbers for a maximum score in each category, then totaled those numbers for a final overall score. We broke down the scores as follows:

  • Function had a maximum of 50 points: Thickness/support (15 points), grip (15 points), ability to lie flat (10 points), portability (5 points) and size (5 points).
  • Materials had a maximum of 30 points: Feel under skin (10 points), eco-friendly/sustainable materials (10 points), odor (5 points), ease of cleaning (5 points).
  • Options had a maximum of 15 points: Sizing options (10) and color/pattern choices (5).
  • Warranty had a maximum of 5 points: No warranty (0 points), up to five years (2 points), lfive to 10 years (3 points) or lifetime (5 points).

In addition to the overall score, we also factored in the price of each yoga mat.

Other yoga mats we tested

Jade Yoga Harmony Mat (starting at $79.95; amazon.com or jadeyoga.com)

Jade Yoga Harmony Mat
PHOTO: Amazon
Jade Yoga Harmony Mat

If you’re looking for a greener yoga practice, the Jade Yoga Harmony Mat is a solid choice. PVC-free and made in the USA, the 4.5-millimeter thick natural rubber mat’s textured surface offers up a sticky resilience perfect for low-impact and high-octane workouts alike, while the underside stays put on hard floors and carpeting. Available in two lengths (68 and 74 inches), the mat comes in a slew of cute colors, from fire engine red to a pretty slate blue. One downside was that the flat texture of the mat tended to pick up lots of dust and debris off our floors, which made wiping it clean a bit tougher. Bonus: Jade Yoga plants a tree for every mat sold, and even the mat’s label is printed on recycled paper with soy ink. Unfortunately, the brand offers only a one-year warranty.

Gaiam Performance Dry Grip Yoga Mat 5MM (starting at $50; amazon.com; $69.98; gaiam.com)

Gaiam Performance Dry Grip Yoga Mat 5MM
PHOTO: Amazon
Gaiam Performance Dry Grip Yoga Mat 5MM

Hot yoga devotees, listen up: The Gaiam Performance Dry Grip Yoga Mat 5MM was created specifically to wick away moisture (and maintain grip) even as practice temperatures increase, and we can attest it holds up to its promise. During one particularly sweaty yoga session, the mat stayed dried the entire time (even when we didn’t!). We liked the PVC mat’s smooth surface, and the soft support of its 5-millimeter density. Free of latex and phthalates, this a good option for those looking for a thick, rubber-free mat that is relatively lightweight (it’s 4.25 pounds).

Yoga Accessories 1/4” Thick High Density Yoga Mat ($25.99; amazon.com)

Yoga Accessories 1/4" Thick High Density Yoga Mat
PHOTO: Amazon
Yoga Accessories 1/4″ Thick High Density Yoga Mat

Red alert for tall yogis everywhere: This is the budget-friendly mat for you! Running a full 6 inches longer than standard mats, the Yoga Accessories 1/4” Thick High Density Yoga Mat is 74-inches long, making it ideal for our tallest friends out there. Rhis latex- and phthalates-free PVC mat is also the thickest we tested, coming in at 6.25 millimeters, which makes it a solid choice for anyone in need of extra joint support. The mat has a spongier feel that some might find lacking in stability, but it provides a decent grip and weighs only 3.6 pounds, which makes it easy to lug to and from classes. Available in 17 pretty hues, from sunburst yellow to bubblegum pink, the mat is another Amazon fave with more than 3,000 positive reviews and a 4.5-star rating.

Jade Yoga Voyager Mat ($39.95; amazon.com)

Jade Yoga Voyager Mat
PHOTO: Amazon
Jade Yoga Voyager Mat

The most portable of Jade Yoga’s earth-friendly yoga mats, the Voyager Mat measures just 1.5 millimeters in thickness and is made of natural rubber (read: it’s PVC-free!). At 1.5 pounds, the lightweight mat is great for travel and portability — it folds into a 9-by-9-by-2-inch rectangle and can easily be tucked out of sight in your home when not in use. But its thin nature can also be a detriment. We struggled with it sliding on the flooring (when tested both atop carpet and hardwood), which affected our workout stability and tried our patience more than a little. We do, however, appreciate that Jade Yoga is an ultra-sustainable brand that plants a tree for every mat sold.

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