Best Overall Yoga Mat
Comfortable and stable
The Manduka eKO
is the best overall mat in our review two years running. This was hands down our testers' favorite mat to practice on. It's comfortable and stable, and not so heavy that you'll hurt yourself toting it around. It has a slight rubber smell to start, but the odor quickly dissipates (unlike some other rubber models). Best of all though, is its traction; it has great Dry Traction, and only gets a little bit slicker once your palms get sweaty. The eKO
has a closed-cell top surface to increase durability and decrease absorption, leaving the mat smelling fresher for longer. And, after over a year of use and a least 100 classes, it's still in great shape. It's also available in several different thicknesses: the 5mm
thickness that we tested, the Manduka eKO lite 4mm
, and the Manduka eKO lite 3mm
. If lots of padding and support is your preference, go with the 5mm
. If you're looking for a good balance between padding and not-too-squishy for standing poses, the 4mm
is for you. And if you prefer only minimal padding but still want a little support, the 3mm
is a great choice. No matter what thickness you prefer, if you're looking for a great all-around mat that can handle a vigorous Vinyasa class but still be comfortable enough for a Yin one after, this is the mat for you.
Read Full Review: Manduka eKO
Best Bang for the Buck
Mat bits slough off on your toes
Retains creases and fold marks
The Prana E.C.O.
performed well in most of our tests and was one of the least expensive mats in this review. It's a lightweight and comfortable mat with great traction and a closed-cell design, which inhibits sweat and bacteria from penetrating the surface and taking root inside. This is key if you practice Hot Yoga and/or tend to sweat a lot. The Prana E.C.O.
works great for flow style classes as well, so if you like to do a variety of classes you'll be all set with just this one mat. That boosts the value of the E.C.O.
even further, and for this (and the $48 price tag) we've given it our Best Buy Award. Note that the Hugger Mugger Earth Elements was virtually identical to this mat
, but priced a bit higher.
Read Full Review: Prana E.C.O.
Top Pick for Hot Yoga
Great traction when wet
Easy to care for when doing hot yoga
Less cushion than a regular 5mm mat
Somewhat slippery when dry
If you regularly practice a Hot Yoga style you know that no matter how often you rinse your mat off in the shower or spray it with "rejuvenating" cleaners, once the funky smell sets in it's there to stay. You are also probably tired of schlepping a mat and towel to class every day, only to have that towel bunch up on the mat and be a distraction. The Aurorae Synergy
solves all of these problems and more. It's a microfiber towel bonded to a PER bottom that you throw in the wash after each use and it comes out smelling clean each time. It doesn't provide the same amount of traction as some sticky mats alone, but the traction is better than some other towels that we've used, and you don't have to fuss with it during your practice. This mat costs around $60, but since it's a towel and
a mat it's actually a great value. Finally, it's really well made and durable. We've now used this mat around once a week for over a year, and even after 60 plus classes it still looks and works great. If you practice in a heated room this innovative hybrid mat is the best option out there, and our Top Pick for Hot Yoga classes.
Read Full Review: Aurorae Synergy
Top Pick for Comfort
Thick and comfortable
Stable and durable
If you're looking for a yoga mat for gentle Yin classes where extra padding is welcomed and you don't need great traction, the Manduka PRO
is a great choice. It's 6mm of dense but still comfortable PVC, and while it's not the most "eco" of yoga mat materials out there, it also ranked highest for durability in our tests, which means that you won't have to replace it every year like a less durable rubber mat. The traction on this mat left a lot to be desired, both with wet and even dry hands, which is why we recommend it more for gentler classes that don't require a lot of traction. And when you're spending over an hour sitting and lying on your mat, like you do in a Yin class, you want something with a little extra padding to cushion any protruding bones or joints. This was our favorite mat for those situations.
Read Full Review: Manduka PRO
Top Pick for Travel
Sticky with decent traction
Need to use it on a rug or over another mat
If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, you should always bring the Gaiam Foldable
mat with you. It weighs only 1 pound, and takes up little to no space, as you can pack it flat inside your suitcase or carry-on bag
. It has a sticky texture that offered better traction that the Gaiam Premium Sticky
mat that we tested, and it is easy to wipe down clean after class. The thing it does not have is a lot of comfort and stability; at only 2mm thick you can barely tell that there is something under you on a hardwood floor. But, when used over a rental mat or on a hotel room floor that you'd rather not lie down on, it feels just fine. Best of all, it only costs $25, so even if you only travel occasionally it won't break the bank to have one of these hanging around.
Read Full Review: Gaiam Foldable
Great All-Around Mat
Jade Harmony Professional
Great wet and dry traction
Stable and comfortable
We loved the Jade Harmony Professional
so much that we had to give it a little extra shout out. This mat has supreme sticking power, even when our hands got a little sweaty, and it was our favorite option for Vinyasa classes. At only 4mm thick, it doesn't have the same cushioning as the 5mm Manduka eKO
or 6mm Manduka PRO
, but it still offers a lot of stability and is great for balancing poses. While this mat won our Editors' Choice award in previous reviews, the lack of durability in this mat compared to the Manduka eKO
made it drop a few points in our estimation. It's great while it lasts, but with a regular practice you'll be replacing it every six month to a year, which is a little disappointing.
Read Full Review: Jade Harmony Professional
Analysis and Test Results
There seem to be more yoga mats on the market today than there are styles of yoga, and that's saying something! From $20 yoga mats you can pick up at a big retailer to specialty ones that cost $100 or more, the options are staggering. You might think that anything will do; after all, people have been practicing yoga for over 5000 years, long before the advent of sticky mats. However, with the current trends towards more vigorous and flow-style classes, having a yoga mat with great traction makes a huge difference for your comfort and safety. Selecting the right one for you often comes down to the style that you practice. Flow yogis want sticky mats, Yin yogis prioritize comfort first, and if you've joined the Hot Yoga craze you want something that won't absorb all your sweat and get too stinky.
Selecting the right yoga mat for you might also involve considering what it is made of. Many yoga practitioners also have deep rooted environmental sensibilities as part of their practice of Ahimsa
, which involves compassion and "doing no harm" unto others, whether it's people, other living things, or the planet. If you're concerned about what your mat is made of and how it's manufactured, you'll be happy to know that some companies have gone a long way towards ensuring their mats are non-toxic and eco-friendly. We'll cover all of that and more below. We've put our decades of yoga knowledge and practice to the page to help you find the right model so that it's one less distraction during your meditative practice. If you're also in the market for clothes to wear to your next class, check out our Yoga Pants Review
. Below you'll see how we rated each mat on the following test metrics: Traction Wet and Dry, Comfort and Stability, Durability, Portability, and Ease of Care.
Yoga requires deep concentration and attention, whether you are practicing challenging arm balances like Parivrtta Bakasana (Side Crow) or meditating in Final Savasana. The less distractions you can have during yoga the better, and choosing the right mat for you and your practice is a key first step.
We've broken traction down into Dry and Wet sections in our scoring because most of the models that we tested had a difference between the two. Also, Wet Traction is a more important consideration for those who practice heated styles or who know that their palms get sweaty as soon as their bodies start moving. Depending on the style of yoga you practice, however, traction might not be that important at all. Yin classes don't rely on any traction, as you are not actively engaging in poses but instead allowing gravity and time to deepen your stretch. And some styles, like Bikram, do not involve any oppositional moves on your mat, as the few postures that do benefit from good traction (Separate Leg Stretch, Triangle, and Separate Leg Head to Knee) are usually done sideways off
the mat and on top of slippery carpet. Conversely, a Flow style class has multiple Sun Salutations and a vinyasa between each pose, and also includes many poses that require you to push apart with your feet or out with your hands. These classes are easier (and safer!) with a mat that helps your hands and feet stick to it. Here's how we scored each model for their Dry Traction:
As you can see, by far the best model for Dry Traction was the Jade Harmony Professional
. We stuck like geckos to the sticky rubber surface and experienced no slipping or need to re-adjust our hands in Downward Facing Dog. The Manduka eKO
and Lululemon's The Reversible Mat
were a close second for this category, but their smooth surfaces just couldn't match the stickiness that the texture on the Harmony
If your practice involves a few dozens Vinyasas and Down Dogs, the Jade Harmony Professional is a revelation. No more readjusting your hands as they slip away from you again and again.
The Jade Voyager
was equally sticky when used on top of another mat, but by itself on a hardwood floor there was no give in the thin material and the traction didn't feel quite as good. The Prana E.C.O.
and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements
were also fairly sticky. One disappointment was the Manduka PRO
. This highly rated mat was more slippery than we anticipated, even when the mat and our palms were dry. Manduka
states that the stickiness improves with use, and we did find a slight improvement in traction by about the tenth class, but it still had nowhere near the sticking power of the eKO
and Jade Harmony
When pushing forward with your front leg and backward with your back (such as in Warrior I pose here), it's easy for your feet to start slipping if the mat doesn't have great traction. On the Manduka eKO our feet stayed planted in one place, as did our hands in other poses like Downward Facing Dog.
The towel hybrid models were also not the best when it came to dry traction, as the surfaces felt slick without much give that our palms could dig into. This is similar to how a regular towel on top of any yoga mat feels. However, if you wet the hands and feet area a bit the traction improves immensely, which brings us to our next section, Wet Traction.
If you regularly do Downward Facing Dog in your practice, one-legged or otherwise, you'll want a mat with great traction. The Aurorae Synergy towel/hybrid model pictured here doesn't have the best Dry Traction, but a little water sprayed on the hands and feet area improve the traction a lot.
If you want to test out your own mat for stickiness, one minute in Down Dog tells you most of what you need to know. If your hands and feet start sliding away from each other and you need to re-adjust even the slightest bit, your mat is not that sticky.
Wet traction is an important criteria if your palms sweat in any way (and most of ours do) and/or you practice in a hot room. Even if you aren't shedding big drops of sweat on your yoga mat, the smallest layer of perspiration on your palms can cause you to slip if your mat does not have good wet traction.
While most of the models that we tested had a decrease in traction when wet, there were a few that actually improved, like Lululemon's The Reversible Mat
. We even went so far as to dump a cup of water on it and then tried a vinyasa, and we still stuck with no problems or slipping. The Jade Harmony Professional
still stuck well when wetted and/or with slippery palms, as did the Manduka eKO
. Some mats became quite slippery when wet, most notably the Manduka PRO
and the Gaiam Premium Sticky
. It became increasingly difficult to hold poses like Downward Facing Dog without slipping once we warmed up a bit and our palms got sweaty.
Lululemon's The Mat has great traction, even when your palms get sweaty. This mat is well-suited to vigorous classes.
The traction on the mat/towel hybrid models also improved when wet. In fact, we now prefer to spray the hand and feet areas of those towels with a bit of water before class as the improvement is so significant.
A little water on the Aurorae Synergy hybrid's towel layer made a significant improvement in its traction.
Comfort and Stability
This category rated how supported we felt and how stable the mats were to practice on. The whole reason we use a yoga mat is to cushion our body from the floor and protect our joints and bones, but if it shifts around underneath you and does not provide a solid surface to practice on, then this defeats the purpose. So we evaluated each mat based on the cushioning provided as well as its stability.
The best performing models in this category were some of the heaviest. The Manduka PRO
models and the Lululemon The Reversible Mat
all had good cushioning, with the weight of the mat helping it stay in one place while we were practicing on it. The Prana E.C.O.
and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements
were also comfortable, but these lighter mats tended to shift around on us a little bit. The Gaiam Premium Sticky
was the "jumpiest" mat that we tested. While it has decent cushioning, it did not stay put and shifted underneath us every time we tried to jump from Downward Facing Dog to standing.
When pressing up in to Headstand variations, you want a mat that will provide the right amount of cushioning while remaining stable. Lululemon's The Reversible Mat did a great job supporting our inversion practice.
The towel hybrids did not score so well in this category either. While their overall thickness was comparable to some of the mats in this review, (4mm for the Kulae
and 5mm for the Aurorae
), that includes the towel which doesn't provide much cushioning. It was difficult and even painful to try some poses on these mats, like Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), in which your weight is resting on your hip bones. The Aurorae
is slightly thicker and offers a bit more cushioning than the Kulae
, but it still did not have the same plush feel of a traditional yoga mat. And last, as well as least, were the travel mats. At only 1.6-2mm thick, they offered little to no padding and were not at all comfortable and stable.
If you need some extra padding for certain poses, like Bow Pose or Camel Pose, but prefer a thinner mat overall, just fold a small section of the mat on top of itself under your hips or knees. This will triple your cushioning and help prevent bone bruising or joint discomfort.
If your knees hurt more in Ustrasana (Camel Pose) than anything else, you need a mat with more cushion.
Durability is an important consideration when purchasing a yoga mat. Many companies tout their "green cred" via toxic-free manufacturing processes and zero waste factories. While that's all well and good, the most green option is to buy nothing, so if we can get a model that lasts through years of use we are doing a far better thing than if we purchase something that is recyclable but falls apart in six months. While we weren't able to achieve six months of regular use with each mat during our three-month testing period, our team of testers practiced at least a dozen times on each model to see if any obvious flaws showed up. We then compared older and well-used mats that we had in our closets to see what a year or two of use did to it.
The model that scored highest for Durability was the Manduka PRO
. It showed no signs of breaking down or wear during our testing period. We also examined a tester's personal mat that has over three years of regular use on it and it still looks great. No chunks missing, cracking, or wearing away of the upper surface. This mat is made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). While PVC is not the most eco-friendly compound (it's a known carcinogen that releases toxic dioxins when burned) and many manufacturers like to tout that their mats are PVC free, Manduka
asserts that the durability and longevity of this mat outweigh the negative aspects of the material. We'll leave that one up to you to decide — but if you do purchase one of the PRO
mats make sure to pick a darker color (the lighter color that we tested marked up easily) that you won't get bored with since you'll be using it for a long time.
The Manduka PRO is almost indestructible, but a lighter color like this one will start to show dirt over time. Since it lasts so long, you'll probably want to purchase a darker color.
We were also impressed with the durability of the towel hybrid models that we tested: the Kulae Elite Hot Hybrid
and Aurorae Synergy
. These mats are meant to be thrown in the washer after each use (if they get drenched with sweat) and we were skeptical that they could handle repeated washing. However, even after multiple trips through the washing machine there was no separation of the two layers or cracking and flaking of the backing in either of them. Both of these models are clearly well constructed and made to withstand dozens of trips through the washing machine. One tester went so far as to complete a 30-Day Challenge with the Kulae mat (30 classes in 30 days!), and at the end of it the mat still look virtually brand new. This is good news for the Hot Yoga lovers out there who practice daily.
The bottom of the Kulae after over 40 classes and washes. No scratches or gouges, cracking or flaking.
We did have durability issues with some of the models in this review. We noticed that during the first few times we used the Prana E.C.O.
and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements
(very similar to each other), little flakes of the TPE were coming off and sticking between our toes. These mats are also prone to creasing and cracking. They ended up at the bottom of the mat pile one day and the weight of the other mats was enough to cause some permanent creases in the mats in areas where they got folded over themselves. We have an older version of the E.C.O.
in our gear closet, and noticed that it started to crack and separate a bit after about a year of use.
Some cracking in a year-old Prana E.C.O.
As for the rubber mats in this review, we had some mixed results with their durability. The Lululemon The Reversible Mat
was easily scratched by our own toenails, and the surface tends to wear down fast in the feet area. The textured surface on the Jade Harmony
breaks down easily due to the friction from your feet rolling back and forth over your toes in a Vinyasa-style class. Because it has an open-cell design, the sweat and oils from your body penetrate the mat in the spots where your hands and feet usually press the most (top and bottom), and eventually stain it. As for the thinner Jade Voyager
, the kind of wear seen on the Harmony
below after about 60 classes would be enough to wear a hole through it, so that mat should only be used infrequently when travelling.
A Jade Harmony Professional mat after about 60 classes. While we love many aspects of this mat, it doesn't hold up to the wear and tear of a regular practice.
Not all rubber yoga mats fall apart though! We were impressed with the durability of the Prana Revolution
, and the design of the Manduka eKO
made it one of the most durable yoga mats in this review. It has a closed-cell layer on top of the rubber to increase it's longevity, and our personal version of this mat now has over 100 yoga sessions on it and is only now starting to show a bit of wear.
While no yoga mat lasts forever and some wear and tear is expected, you'll definitely want to purchase for durability first if you have a daily practice. If you practice only once a week, then a model that is slightly less durable but fits other criteria that you value is fine.
Portability is an important metric to consider if you use public transportation or walk/bike to get to and from your studio, and/or are looking for something to travel with. The models that we tested ranged in weight from one to almost eight pounds. Carting a heavy eight-pound mat from your car to the yoga room is not too big a deal, but you'll start to notice the weight if you're carrying it on your back for long distances, in addition to a towel or two (if you practice Hot Yoga), change of clothes, showering essentials, etc. Some days our yoga bag feels like a 20-pound survival kit!
The lightest and most compact models that we tested were the travel mats, the Gaiam Foldable
and Jade Voyager
. These weigh 1 and 1.5 pounds respectively, and can either be folded or rolled up compactly. Being able to fold a yoga mat is great, as it can then easily fit in a small carry-on suitcase, but these mats are so thin that they are only usable on top of a carpet or other mat.
Testing out the portability of the travel mats. The Gaiam Foldable (left) is designed to be folded and weighs only 1 pound. The Jade Voyager (right) can also be folded, though it'll leave a crease each time you do.
Of the "regular" yoga mats that we tested, the lightest ones were the Prana E.C.O.
and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements
models, along with the Kulae Elite Hot Hybrid
, which were all slightly over two pounds. The advantage of the Kulae
model is that it replaces your mat and towel, saving you weight and space. The heavier mats that we tested were the Manduka PRO
models. While it wasn't fun to cart such heavy mats around, they were the most stable and comfortable ones that we tested, not to mention the most durable. The Prana Revolution
received the lowest score for this category, as in addition to being on the heavier side it was also longer and wider than all of the other mats and wouldn't fit in our regular yoga bag. The rubber mats all tended to be on the heavier end, with the Jade Harmony Professional
the lightest of the bunch at 4 pounds 9 ounces.
The Jade Harmony Professional (blue) and its little sister, the Jade Voyager (green). Both of these rubber mats roll up compactly and are easily toted around.
In addition to weight, the way that a mat rolls up and stays that way (or doesn't) affects how portable it is. The lightweight Prana E.C.O.
and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements
models do not roll up tightly or compactly, and they quickly unroll if not held together with a wrap or strap. Check out our Key Accessories
section below for some wrap and tote suggestions. Even though those models are lightweight, they take up the same amount of space (or more) in our bags as the heavier ones do.
Sometimes you can't have it all in yoga mat. Heavier models are a pain to tote around, but they're more stable and often more comfortable too. Lighter mats are great for travel, but tend to move around the floor during your practice.
The Hugger Mugger mat is lightweight, but it doesn't roll up compactly and takes up as much space as a much heavier mat.
Ease of Care
When it comes to cleaning a yoga mat there are two levels of care involved: regular surface cleaning and occasional deep cleaning. For surface cleaning, most manufacturers recommend wiping it down with only water or a non-abrasive cleaning spray after each class to remove residual sweat and oils. This helps prevent sweat from building up in your mat and making things stinky. Deep cleaning a yoga mat is often an awkward endeavor. Whether you rinse it out in the shower, soak it in a bathtub or hose it off in the backyard, there is no quick and easy way to do a deep clean, and they often take a long time to dry afterwards. If you don't see yourself doing this ever, then you'll want to consider a PVC or TPE mat, which have closed-cell constructions and won't absorb your sweat and oils as easily as an open-cell rubber mat, thereby not needing a deep cleaning as frequently.
We evaluated the Ease of Care based on all of the steps needed to keep the different models clean and in good shape. We used these mats in a home with pets, and noted how easy it was to remove the animal hairs from the surface. (Yoga mats are a magnet for little hairs and pieces of lint.) We also noted how easy it was to remove dirt and stains from the surface, or if they stayed there no matter how hard we scrubbed. The easiest ones to clean were the hybrid towel mats. The Aurorae Synergy
and Kulae Elite Hot Hybrid
go in the washing machine after use and hang to dry, and if hung in 70-75 F room they dried out overnight. There is no scrubbing or hosing involved, and they come out smelling clean and fresh each time. We had found some stains on the Aurorae
at one point, and they easily came out in the next wash cycle with a little stain remover spray and no scrubbing on our part. The downside to this system is that you might need more than one mat if you have a daily practice but don't like to run your washer after each class.
One day these stains just appeared on the Aurorae (were our feet that dirty?!), but a little stain remover and they were gone. What will not go away is the crease down the middle from folding it to fit in a suitcase.
Of the traditional models we tested, the Manduka PRO
and Gaiam Premium Sticky
were the easiest ones to keep clean in terms of their regular care. They are "closed-cell" mats, so don't require regular deep cleaning, and the smooth upper surfaces wiped down easily and didn't hold on to lint or stray hairs. We did have some issues with dirt staining on the Manduka PRO
though. Our feet left "dirt imprints" on the back end of the mat, and these marks did not want to come off. In this mat's defense, we did choose a lighter color, and if we had purchased it in black we might have never even noticed the dirt. However, it was disappointing to have to practice on dirty looking mat.
While you might be bored with black and dark purple mats and be tempted to buy a "pretty" colored lighter mat, it's best to avoid lighter colors. Your mat is going to get dirty and stained, even with regular cleaning, and a darker color will mask some of the discoloration.
The Prana E.C.O.
and Hugger Mugger Earth Elements
did attract lint and animal hairs, and the textured upper surface of the mat made it difficult to remove those things while wiping it down. We also experienced this with the Jade Harmony Professional
. When it came to deep cleaning, rubber mats like the Jade
and Lululemon The Reversible Mat
took several days to dry out afterwards, and you can't leave them in the sun to help hasten the process as that will degrade the material. While all this cleaning may seem like a pain, it is recommended to help lengthen the life of your yoga mat and prevent the buildup of odors and stains.
Here are some great recommendations for other products that are useful when practicing yoga.
Towels are useful for Hot Yoga classes or for people who sweat a lot even in unheated classes. They tend to have good traction when wet, so that your feet aren't slipping around, and by absorbing your sweat they prevent a lot of it from soaking into your mat, which can lead to some unpleasant odors. Kulae makes a Hot Yoga Towel
has a Maha Yoga Towel
, and we also really like the Jade Microfiber Towel
Slings help keep your yoga mat rolled up and easy to take from your home to the studio. Some are just a wrap of fabric, like the Prana Yoga Mat Rap
, and others have a strap that slings over your shoulder, like the Prana Tantra Mat Holder
and Tote Mat Holder
makes the Go Play 2.0
which also includes a small zippered pouch for your wallet and phone.
If you prefer to cover your mat completely when carrying it around so that is doesn't get dirty or wet if the weather is bad, you can purchase a bag that's roughly the size and shape of your mat, like the Prana Steadfast Mat Bag
and Bhakti Yoga Bag
or the Manduka Go Steady 2.0
. You can usually fit a few more items in this bag, though if you are bringing a towel, toiletries and change of clothes with you you'll need a separate duffel or gym bag.
Straps help you get into some poses that your natural flexibility does not easily allow. Straps are typically between 6 and 10 feet long, made of cotton, and come with a buckle that allows you to make a loop and secure it to itself. Prana
makes Raja Yoga Strap
has the Reach Yoga Strap
Blocks also help you keep good alignment in poses where you need to bring your hand to the ground but you don't (yet) have the flexibility to do so, like Revolved Triangle or Side-Angle Pose. There are many different types and thicknesses out there, like the Prana Wonderblock
, with a curved top, or Manduka's Recycled Foam Block
and Cork Block
Bolsters are great tools for meditation and Savasana. They come in various shapes, such as cylinders or rectangles, though we find the Manduka Rectangular airCORE Bolster
more versatile than a cylindrical bolster.
Many manufacturers recommend using only water on your mat and non-abrasive biodegradable soap. You can also put of few drops of vinegar and tea tree oil in spray bottle full of water to "freshen up" the mat a bit, or purchase a pre-made spray, such as Manduka's Mat Renew Spray
The light in me honors the light in you ~ Namaste.
The practice of yoga involves many aspects, from physical exertion to deep journeys into your inner self. The last thing you want to worry about during your practice is whether your hands are going to slip out from under you or how uncomfortable your knees or hip bones feel in various poses. It's also a product that is almost impossible to try out first before purchasing it, so we often buy based on the advice and testimonials of others. Hopefully we helped take some of the guess work out of this for you with our comprehensive evaluation and review. Now it's time to hit the mat and put the prose into practice.