Yoga mat buyers guide:

more than 10 experienced yogi's share their thoughts on buying your first mat + some go deep into what yoga has done for them!

We'd like to welcome you to this great journey you've just embarked on. And that's why we've created this resource for you to explore!

What you’ll find in this resource:

10+ yoga teachers share their lessons,

Things they wish they knew starting out

Personal stories about how yoga changed lives

But wait, there's more!

We asked yoga teachers & enthusiasts, from around the world, to chip in with what they think will help you out the most, as far as yoga mats and your yoga journey go! We’ve also added non-teacher yoga practitioners into the mix, as we feel this will give you a more complete picture to start out with. The questions we’ve asked may vary from person to person, because with multiple questions come multiple angles! And with multiple angles come different viewpoints that you might use these to create your own special sauce!

We’ve tallied up the votes…

Good grip comes in as the #1 thing you should look for in your first yoga mat. Because slipping while you’re in downward dog… ain’t nobody got time for that. The second thing you should look for, are ethically made & easy to take with you yoga mats. Ain’t nobody waiting to haul a heavy mat that’s made out of child labour with them! And the third thing you should look for is this: Is your mat easy to clean, and does it inspire you?

You’re going to spend a lot of sweaty hours on that mat, so you’d better be able to clean it!

Questionair

Q) Which yoga mat(s) would you recommend for a mom of 4, just starting out with yoga?

a) Lululemon – it doesn’t slip and you can get a very inexpensive version to combine with a target mat on the bottom for more cushioning, if you aren’t sure about sticking with yoga….

Q) Which yoga mat(s) would you recommend that she’d take with her whilst traveling?

a) Jade or Lululemon – light and very packable.

Q) Any other tips for a mom just starting out?

a) Manduka is the gold-standard mat and if you buy one it’ll be the ONLY one you ever need, though you’ll need to invest in a “towel” to go over it to prevent slipping.

Q) If you were teleported back to being a beginning yoga practitioner, but somehow maintained all of the knowledge about yoga that you have now, which yoga mat would you pick as your first one and why?

a) Manduka long classic black mat

Q) If you were teleported back to being a beginning yoga practitioner, but somehow maintained all of the yoga knowledge that you have now, which yoga mat would you pick as your first one and why?

a) HA!  I have been doing yoga for over 40 years – LONG before yoga mats were ever on the scene!  I thought when I saw my first yoga mat, that they were the most ridiculous idea ever, and that they would never take off, because WHO would limit their yoga practice to a tiny mat!

I preferred yoga in a big carpeted room then, and I still do now.

My yoga is not linear or limited.  My yoga does not have to look straight or aligned with the edges of any mat. When I teach yoga I have people partner up and from circles and hold hands.  Yoga mats chop up the room and separate people.  People get territorial and protective of their space on mats.

I use yoga mats as another prop, not a necessity. Yoga mats have their use and advantages. They create order, define space, create friction and padding.  Mats serve an internal mirror for practitioners, observing that who they are “on the mat” translates to who they are “off the mat”.

Q) What’s one of the most beautiful experiences you’ve had, that came as a consequence of you practicing yoga?

a) Two years ago I was in a near fatal car accident. As my car went spinning out of control and heading for the edge of a cliff, I took my hands off the wheel and went into meditation, knowing this could be the moment I meet my maker and cross over to the beyond. I was relaxed and present as the car flipped and rolled over three times with everything shattering and breaking.  I was loose and surrendered.

The car landed upside down and I had been forced into a position where my knees were beside my head. The average 58 year old man would have been dead.  I said to myself, “I “do” this asana. I’m ok.”  I had to remain calm and dig myself out of my broken moon roof into the snow below through a tunnel to freedom.  Beside numerous concussions from flying debris, I was unscathed.

Yoga saved me inside and out.

Q) Are there any yoga poses you’d recommend for beginning yoga practitioners?

a) Six movements of the spine with Agni breath.  Empty coat sleeves (spinal twists) monkey breaths (lateral bends) and buckets of paint (forward fold and back bends) all with the breath of fire.

Q) Any final words for our beginning yoga practitioners?

a) There are MANY different forms of yoga.  DO NOT THINK because you have been to one class or serial classes that you have any idea what yoga is.  Search out a real yoga teacher, not just a gymnast.  Yoga is a science of personal transformation at every level of the being, not an exercise.

Q) If you were teleported back to being a beginning yoga practitioner, but somehow maintained all of the yoga knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently in your yoga journey? If yes, what and why?

a) I would be more playful in my yoga practice and not so uptight about striking the perfect pose or being afraid of failing in challenging poses.
Q) What’s one of the most beautiful experiences you’ve had, that came as a consequence of you practicing yoga?
a) One of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had as a result of my yoga practice came as a result of being completely frustrated in my attempt to flow from crow to plank and back to crow pose.
As I cried in child’s pose, feeling like a failure, I realized that I was my worst enemy. I had been so caught up in my negative thoughts and emotions and competing with others around me that I had forgot about all of the great things I had achieved in yoga and that my reason for starting a yoga practice was to connect my body, breath, and mind.
This experience reminded me that everything was going to be alright and that I was exactly where I needed to be.
Q) Are there any yoga poses you’d recommend for beginning yoga practitioners?
a) For beginning yoga practitioners I recommend all of the warrior poses, cat-cow, and tree pose to get a full range of strength and flexibility throughout the body, as well as practice in setting their mental focus to stay balanced.
Q) If someone starting out with yoga wanted to buy a yoga mat, which one(s) would you recommend?
a) I’ve tried a variety of yoga mats and I always go back to the mats made by Gaiam and Aurorae, as they offer good cushion and support in all poses and are made of ecologically friendly materials.
Q) Any final words for our beginning yoga practitioners?
a) Find the style of yoga that suits you and embrace it. There are so many different styles to choose from and the benefits of yoga, both physically and mentally are available through all of them. What matters is what style keeps you coming back to your mat.

Q) If you were teleported back to being a beginning yoga practitioner, but somehow maintained all of the yoga knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently in your yoga journey? If yes, what and why?

a) Be less hard on myself. Everyones practice is different, a bit like life don’t feel the need to keep up with the jones’, that and find out your purpose for practicing yoga, for me I love a tough session and short meditation. It gets your body engaged and you have a quiet enforced place to switch off.
Q) What’s one of the most beautiful experiences you’ve had, that came as a consequence of you practicing yoga?
a) Meeting awesome people and once tearing up from the emotional release.
Q) Are there any yoga poses you’d recommend for beginning yoga practitioners?
a) It’s a strange one but half pigeon is my favourite as its a deep stretch and one you can visibly see your progress in.
Q) If someone starting out with yoga wanted to buy a yoga mat, which one(s) would you recommend?
a) As above, everyone has their own individual preference. For me it’s something that avoids chemicals, can be cleaned easy and with a design that keeps me inspired. I must admit I’m bias though as we help people design their inspirational own yoga mats at DisruptSports  so of course I use one of these.
Q) Any final words for our beginning yoga practitioners?
a) Try lots of classes, It’s ok not to like some, I found I really like alternative classes like RnB Yoga and Dance Yoga, ’m not into too much ‘faff’ as I like to separate practice and meditation. Find your own centre.

Q) What’s one of the most beautiful experiences you’ve had, that came as a consequence of you practicing yoga?

 
a) One night, whilst seated in Sukhasana – Meditation Pose of Ease – I “saw” the posture of shame – “shameasana.” Whilst seated upright and with an observer focus, I could “see” shame without being compounded by it or feeling ashamed for witnessing the vibration of shame in my beingness.  This experience illustrated the presence of ‘shadow asana” – emotional patterns and postures within the psyche and personal blueprint.  
Although one may rock out Warrior sequences or heart opening backbends on the mat, unless the wisdom of these postures are embodied (see below), old traumas and fears may be “silently” nurturing “shadow” and the practitioner may be subconsciously living from limiting inner patterns.
Yoga has the potential to unlock and will illuminate areas of being that were previously hidden or where one was once scared to look.  This illumination matched with courage, tenacity, trust and fearlessness can lead to true liberation.
 
Q) What qualities should a starting practitioner be looking for, in a yoga mat?
a) I recommend natural fibers, an inspirational image/pattern or affirmations imprinted on the mat, and a weight or thickness that feels good to you.  For me, I prefer a thin mat that allows for a good grip.  A benefit of a natural fiber thin mat allows for ease of travel and a more firm connection to the earth.
Q) Any yoga mats that are particularly cool?
Chad Turner has designed beautiful tree fiber mats with stellar designs reflecting nature and geometric shapes. He has combo mats great for hot yoga that eliminates the need for an additional yoga towel as a sweat/water absorber.  The Commuter and Travel mats are foldable and great for the on the go yogi/ni.
 
Q) Any final words for our beginning yoga practitioners?
a) Asana means “our connection to the earth.” It is inclusive of and exists beyond simply postures and body manipulations.  Endeavor to discover and embody the wisdom, archtype and message of each posture – asana. This is the true wealth.  The message of the posture – courage, humility, flexibility, focus – and embodying that will allow “yoga” to work through you and this will create the live change – the alchemy – that you are truly seeking.

I really like the Lulu lemon mats for a hot yoga class. You don’t slip but it does smell like rubber is the only downfall. I also like jade mats, they are very durable and non slip.

The reversible (big) mat, I like mine long. And I like them to have bold colors that make me happy when I doing yoga! Mine is cobalt blue! I don’t think they have bright ones anymore, they go with the colors of the seasons. Love!
The jade mat is extra long as well, and it is called xw fusion. I also like their travel at. It is light and thin, yet still has substance.

I would say where and what the mat is made from is a really important factor.  I should be ethical but also non slip – so many yoga mats claim to be, but they are still slippery when practicing downward dog!

The ones from Yogasphere are good, they are very eco-friendly as well!

Q) If there was only one attribute, that you had to base your choice of yoga mat on, then what would that attribute be, and why?

a) The most important thing about a mat to me is its ‘convenience’, so no heavy, thick mats for me. I look for the lightest mat I can find that still offers an acceptable amount of grip and cushion.

Q) Any particular brands you might recommend? 

a) Jade Travel mat

Q) What’s one of the most beautiful experiences you’ve had, that came as a consequence of you practicing yoga?

a) I was at a wedding in Beaver Creek, CO and went to a yoga class first thing in the morning on a hillside overlooking the mountains.  It was such an emotional class as we came together to celebrate a new beginning and took in the fresh mountain air and natural beauty around us.
Q) If you were ‘teleported’ back to being a beginning yoga practitioner, but somehow maintained all of the yoga knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently in your yoga journey? If yes, what and why?
a) YES!  I would have started practicing hot yoga much sooner because it is so much easier to get into the positions when your body is hot and much less frustrating as a new practitioner.
Q) Are there any yoga poses you’d recommend for beginning yoga practitioners?
a) I think staff pose and child’s pose are both extremely challenging, despite their seemingly basic properties.  If you can work on both of these, then you have a great basis for anything else.
 Q) If I were a mom, and a nurse, and I was looking to pracitce yoga in the evening, which yoga mat(s) would you recommend?
a) I would highly recommend anything by Jade.  Their mats are soft, thick, non-slip and durable.  They will not move if you are practicing at home and using it on a wood floor or carpet, and are padded enough for the occasional tumble out of a pose.
 Q) Any final words for our beginning yoga practitioners?
a) Breathe!  Learning your breath is absolutely life changing and one of the best reasons for practicing yoga.

Q) If you were to buy your first yoga mat, then what characteristics would you be looking for?

a) cost – inexpensive mats are fine for beginners.  nobody really needs any “stuff” to practice yoga

Claire Shaw

Q) What do you feel are the 3 most important characteristics in choosing a first yoga mat?

a) In terms of your first yoga mat, a lot of it depends on personal preference and what your body needs. For example if you have a sensitive spine its good to get a slightly thicker more cushioned mat. Decide whether you’re going to be practicing mainly at home or whether you want to be able to take it places with you, in which case a mat that comes with a way to carry it is very useful 😉
However, I would say the most important characteristics for a beginner are:
  • Something which has a good grip.
  • Is in a colour or pattern that will make you feel great!
  • Something you can transport and put away with ease.
Simple is good, and no need to spend loads of money! There are ones with guideline placement marks on them but not everyone finds them useful.

Q) What do you feel are the three most important characteristics in choosing your first yoga mat?

1. Appropriate thickness for comfort, yet thin enough to feel the floor for balance
2. Very sticky! There is nothing more frustrating than slipping around on your mat.
3. The mat should be made of a material that is very easy to clean regularly and will not break down over time.

Q) What do you feel are the 3 most important characteristics of a first yoga mat?

a) Three important characteristics of a first yoga mat.
 1. Good grip
You don’t want your hands to be sliding forward when you’re on downward facing dog, otherwise it’s just unsafe.
2. Ethical
Ahimsa is the first Yama in the 8 limbs of yoga. It means non violence and being kind – to yourself, others, animals and the planet. So having a yoga mat that has been ethically made using materials that don’t harm the environment, is important.
3. Easy to clean
If you sweat a lot, having a mat you can wash and dry quickly will be useful. Waiting hours for a mat to dry after you’ve cleaned it isn’t ideal especially if you don’t have lots of space.

Ami McMullen

Yoga practitioner and fitness pro.

Q) If someone starting out with yoga wanted to buy a yoga mat, which one(s) would you recommend?

a) It doesn’t matter what type of yoga mat you purchase. You could use a towel or nothing at all if you wanted. If you’ve made the move to try out yoga and gotten yourself to a class, you’re doing great! Just do the yoga!

Super Sister Fitness

Yoga practitioners and teachers

Q) What do you feel are the most important characteristics in buying your first yoga mat? And why?

a) We recommend looking for a mat that has a good grip on its surface and is thick enough to help support your wrist and knee joints (i.e. not a travel mat or folding mat to start). Before a beginner has had enough time to build up their upper body strength and lower body flexibility, sometimes their hand grip can slip on cheaper mats, especially when the mat gets wet from perspiration. To prevent this, you can either look for a mat that uses anti-slip mat materials or you can add a yoga towel on top of the mat you already have.

If you purchase one of the yoga mats written about in this article, please let us know your experience with it, by sending us an email.

We’ll be able to feature you within this article, and you’ll be able to chip in.