We all know the truth: practicing the ancient art of yoga has mad benefits (especially when using the right yoga mat).
Here's the proof:
A study by Arizona State University demonstrated that yoga can improve your blood pressure, strengthen your upper body, and increase your endurance and flexibility.
Another study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine proved that this practice:
Regular practitioners know exactly how wonderful the best yoga mat can be. Between the cushioning, extra friction, and stability provided by the surface, it makes for an excellent practice.
After more than 20 hours of research—scouring through every yoga mat out there and testing a handful of the best styles and brands, we found the 7 best yoga mats on the market today.
We evaluated pros and cons, durability, specifications, and experiential usage to determine the qualifications of a great yoga mat. We even went a step further and categorized each one.
A thick and comfortable yoga mat is essential to practice. Men tend to not have as much body fat as women do, so you need a thicker mat for comfort and protection during yoga. This one is extra thick with comfort foam and also comes with a handy strap that is easy to use and convenient to carry around.
Lightweight, slim, and beautifully portable; provide excellent no-slip grip, made with highly durable materials
Too thin to practice on hard floors
These thin mat-like towels are the perfect option for those who want to practice while traveling. The natural rubber-backed products are ideal for use on hotel carpets. They will stick to the floor and provide you a slip- and moisture-resistant surface for your practice during travel. On the downside, they're just 1/16" thick, so you have to use them on a softer (carpeted) floor, or on top of a couple of towels.
These are lightweight yet surprisingly durable. It's easily rolled or folded to fit into your suitcase, and it provides a very convenient option to use on the go when traveling. It offers a solid surface with excellent grip and stickiness, with a good texture that will keep your hands and feet from sliding around even when wet.
At $22, it's a cheap alternative to pricier Yogi towels. It's not going to replace your primary piece of equipment, but it's a good one to have handy if you do a lot of traveling.
Textured surface makes it slip-resistant even when wet, lightweight and portable, added thickness for extra comfort
Gets slippery when wet
For those who need a bit of extra cushioning, this cheap 5mm-thick product is a good choice. It's soft enough that your joints don't hurt after practice, but dense enough to help you keep your balance through the tough stability poses. It's an average-sized option that's surprisingly lightweight, yet is durable enough to bear up under regular use. Anyone looking for a "beginner" choice should consider this one.
The Gaiam Chai is solid and comfortable, and it offers excellent stickiness and dry traction. Those who sweat a lot may find it gets slippery when wet, but placing a towel down will solve the problem. It will provide excellent grip on the floor, and won't shift as you transition through your poses.
This piece of equipment hits the sweet spot between "good" and "cheap". At $27, it's a durable choice that is great for beginners and regular practitioners.
Made with all eco-friendly materials, incredibly durable, provides solid traction and cushioning
Not the best option for men who are heavy sweaters
The Manduka eKO is made from natural tree rubber (non-Amazon harvested), and is completely free of PVC, phthalates, toxins, and chemicals. Rubber is a highly durable material, and this piece of equipment will last a long time. It's slightly wider and longer than average, giving you more room for your flowing movements. It does have a natural rubber smell, though it's an odor preferable to the chemical scent of PVC mats--and the smell will fade over time.
For those who struggle to find the right balance between stability and comfort, this is worth trying. At 3/16", it's thick enough to cushion your joints without affecting your balance. You will feel solidly grounded. No matter how much you sweat, the rubber is easy to clean. Dirt sticks a bit too easily, but a damp cloth will get it clean in minutes. The only downside: rubber tends to be slippery when wet.
As with any "green" or "organic" products, you'll pay a bit more. At $100, it's a pricey investment. However, consider that it's a no-carbon-footprint product of excellent quality, and you can see why it's a good choice for those yogis who want to care for the environment.
Offers wonderful cushioning, is comfortable on your joints, long-lasting, and is larger than average
Smells bad until broken in
This thick option for heavier men is made from latex, a far more durable, long-lasting material that is also fully natural. It's made without phthalates or heavy metals. While a bit heavy (3.6 pounds), it's a very solid, durable choice that is longer and wider than average--a good option for taller practitioners. The chemical smell will dissipate after a few uses, but will feel comfortable for years to come.
Offers average traction and stickiness, but it's best of the best in terms of cushioning. At ¼" thick, it's great for men who need a bit more cushioning for their joints. It may take time to get used to the stability poses on the extra-thick mats, but you'll find the sessions are much easier on your wrists, ankles, elbows, and knees thanks to the added comfort. It's easy to clean, even after heavy sweating. This thicker option will stay firmly in place on the floor, and there's no risk of slipping.
At $21, it's one of the best-priced cheap mats on this list. It's designed to last for years of regular practice, and the extra thickness will prevent it from being worn down with regular use. If you're above-average weight, this is the option for you!
Extra-long, thick and wide, excellent for more active forms of the practice, absorbs sweat, PVC backing offers extra durability and stickiness
Gets dirty very easily, hard to keep clean
For those who need a bit more space for their practice, this extra-wide and extra-long thick option is the perfect purchase! You have more room to move around and flow in comfort. The top layer is highly absorbent, reducing your risk of slipping while sweating heavily. With the PVC backing, you never slip on the floor.
The surface is thick enough to offer heavier men cushioning, but not so thick that it affects stability. The grip actually improves when it gets wet, offering better traction while sweating heavily in downward-facing poses. The extra size makes it a bit heavy, but it's worth carrying around if you need something to handle a more active practice. Just remember: the sweat-absorbing material needs a lot of washing to keep clean.
This thick option will run you roughly $75, making it a very pricey investment. However, for extra tall practitioners, it's worth it for the extra space, top-notch durability, and above-average wet traction.
It's a reliable, workhorse product; lightweight and fully portable, with excellent traction
Not as good for heavy sweaters
This option for men is eco-friendly, made with fully sustainable materials. It's thinner than many of the options on this list (just 3/16" thick), making it the ideal choice for excellent stability while still offering good cushioning. It's useful for men of any size and weight, and is a highly durable, long-lasting choice.
The Manduka PROLite for Men is perfect for those who practice daily, as it can bear up under a lot of heavy use. The traction slips a little with VERY heavy sweat, but for the average practitioner, it's an excellent option under both wet and dry conditions. It feels like a sturdy, resilient piece of equipment that will last for years of regular practice. It's also very easy to keep clean--just a simple wipe-down and you can let it air-dry.
The PROLite for Men retails for upwards of $60, making it one of the priciest options on this list. However, when you consider its high quality, durability, and eco-friendliness, it's worth paying a bit more for a top-notch product.
So you’ve decided to dabble in the world of yoga. Or maybe you’re crossing over from Pilates to yoga or vice versa, and now you’re looking for a mat that will cater to your needs. In any case, you’re probably wondering, "What should I be looking for in a yoga and Pilates mat?"
While it's true that yoga and Pilates have different requirements, you can certainly look for a mat that works for both disciplines. In this guide, we'll help you shop for the best mat to suit your fitness needs. Let's dive right in!
Traditionally, a Pilates mat will differ from a yoga mat in several ways. The best yoga mats, however, should be good enough for Pilates. But what, exactly, sets these two apart?
Explained below are their key differences. If you’re leaning towards one discipline, you should be able to customize your shopping criteria based on what you’ll learn below.
Pilates calls for a thicker mat than yoga. This makes sense, given that the former involves exercises that require you to roll on your back and tailbone. On the other hand, yogis will find a thinner mat helpful for executing standing and balancing postures. Many of these postures require that you’re able to feel the floor through the mat.
Yoga mats can vary between an eighth to half an inch thick. Mats that could work well for both yoga and Pilates should be closer to the thicker end of that spectrum.
Also, note that density is just as important as thickness. A mat that is thick but not that dense may feel awesome at first, but it’s bound to get difficult to use later on. Usually, a mat’s density is also an indicator of its quality.
A standard yoga mat will be about 24 inches wide. Similar to a Pilates mat, the length will usually vary between 68 to 74 inches. However, Pilates mats are usually wider to accommodate a wider variety of floor movements.
Most yoga and Pilates mats are made out of PVC or foam. Eco-friendly materials like rubber and jute are also common.
Pilates mats are generally smoother than yoga mats. The smooth surface makes rolling movements easier for Pilates practitioners. Also, because most Pilates exercises are done while seated or lying down, slipping around isn’t an issue.
In yoga, a nubby texture is favored because it offers added grip—a useful feature for staying put while doing complicated poses. Good yoga mats are also a bit tacky or sticky to counteract slippery sweat.
The ideal level of padding on a mat will depend on many factors, such as your skill level and the discipline you practice. If you're a beginner, you will need more padding as you build up your strength. A too-thin mat could also result in joint pains and unnecessary injuries.
Nothing is more distracting (and embarrassing) than sliding around on your mat while you’re trying to rock a pose. So when choosing a mat, make sure to test its grip.
Check if it makes your palms slide around. If you have to cling on it for dear life, then you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Padding is great and all, but a thick mat can be difficult to lug around. It’s important to look for a mat that strikes a wonderful balance between lightness and thickness to get the best of both worlds.
When it comes to thickness and texture, what would constitute an ideal yoga mat could be different from that of the ideal Pilates mat. But when it comes to construction, they both pretty much depend on the same types of materials.
Some of the most popular ones include:
Not sure about you, but a cool-looking mat is just as motivating as badass workout clothes. Whatever your design preferences are, choose a mat that will make you more excited to break a sweat.
Yoga and Pilates mats come in different lengths and widths. Whether you’re on the lookout for an extra-wide or an extra-long mat, you’re bound to find something that will suit you. As a general rule, look for one that is at least six inches longer than your height and a foot longer than the widest point of your hips.
Effectively practicing these disciplines will be difficult if you’re not using the correct mat size. It will be awkward, uncomfortable, and distracting--and no one wants that, right?
Saving a few bucks is always nice. However, make sure you’re not sacrificing quality in the name of minimizing expense. Low-quality gear won’t last as long. Not to mention, they could expose you to additional injury risks. If you think about it, frequently replacing flimsy mats is bad for the environment, too.
If you’re the type who likes to bring your own mat, then it's important to consider how it is stored.
Most yoga and Pilates mats these days can be rolled up and secured with either straps or a bag. We recommend that you stick to straps, though. Packing your mat inside a bag could prevent it from airing out properly, which could contribute to the degradation of the mat’s material.
If you have your own mat but aren’t cleaning it properly, you could be exposing yourself to unnecessary health risks. An unshared exercise mat could be just as dirty as a shared one if you don’t take time to clean it after every session.
So resist the habit of rolling up your mat after use and forgetting about it until your next workout schedule. After all, it’s difficult to reach a state of zen if your nostrils are being attacked by a stench. What’s more, whipping out a smelly and dirty mat in yoga class is downright embarrassing.
So, without further ado, here’s how you can maintain a clean, odor-free mat.
You don’t have to spend an hour deep-cleaning your mat after every single workout. Adopting a quick and simple cleaning routine after each session will work wonders. Thorough cleaning sessions can be spaced out to every few weeks.
Before anything else, check the label of your yoga mat if it calls for a specific cleaning method. Generally, though, a solution made up of gentle dishwashing liquid and water will help remove stains and smells. Use a sponge or a spray bottle to apply the mixture onto the mat. Wipe it off with clean water and let dry completely before storing.
You can also use a water-vinegar solution to quickly disinfect your mat. Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a bottle and use the mixture as a disinfectant spray. If you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, mix in a few drops of essential oil to help mask the smell.
Give your mat a thorough clean every so often to remove accumulated bacteria, sweat, and oils. Remember that your mat is constantly on the floor during use, and that it picks up all sorts of dirt in the process.
If your mat is machine-washable, pop it into the washing machine with a mild detergent. Use the delicate cycle and pair it with cold water to be extra-safe.
If your mat isn’t machine-washable, wash your Pilates and yoga mat in a tub using cool water and mild detergent. Let it soak for around five minutes, and then gently scrub over stubborn stains. Rinse the mat thoroughly and leave it to dry flat.
If you want to speed up the drying process a bit, you could roll it up with a towel, which will help absorb excess moisture. However, resist the urge to leave your mat rolled up for more than a few minutes as this could alter its shape. Make sure to lay your mat flat or hang it to dry. Setting up a fan near your mat will help shorten drying time, too.