After 10 years of owning a yoga studio, I can honestly tell you that I have been asked hundreds of times, how to pick a yoga mat, and which is the best yoga mat out there, and why.
Like any purchase, some of it comes down to personal preference, but there are some key factors that make certain mats stand out, for certain styles of yoga.
The following is my opinion/advice on yoga mats.
If you are just getting started on the yoga path and are about to purchase your first yoga mat, I would advise you to buy a really inexpensive mat from just about anywhere, Winners, Wallmart, etc. Or better yet, borrow one if you can, either from your local studio (although, some studios charge an arm and a leg) or from a friend or family member. Beginners may not realize that there are many different styles of yoga out there. All these styles, vary in speed, intensity, temperature, etc. To some degree, the style of yoga you will end up practicing, will play a roll in the mat that best suits your needs.
Starting off with an inexpensive mat allows you to see how a cheaper mat performs. If you have chosen to practice Yin or restorative, for example, a less expensive mat could be all you require. However, if you are sensitive to pressure, for example knees get tender, while kneeling, or tailbone get sore while sitting, then a thicker mat could be a requirement, even for Yin/Restorative yoga. For the most part, gentler practices, such as Yin and Restorative, do not require a high quality (expensive) mat. A cheaper mat will run you about $10 – $18. A higher quality mat will cost anywhere from $75 to $150.
When exploring the higher quality mats, there are many to look at. I have tried several over the past 15 years, and if I can, I typically try a mat out for a year, to see how it performs long term. I have spent some big money on mats, name brands that most yoga students would recognize, and have been really disappointed! I have found that the lulu lemon mats have a terrible odor. In fact, if we have two or three ‘new’ mats in the studio at once, it is almost unbearable. The smell tends to linger for several months, despite the claim that the scent will dissipate quickly.
Manduka was one of the most expensive mats I have ever owner, and one of the most ineffective as well. This thick, heavy to carry mat, was by far the most slippery mat I have ever practiced on. There are roomer online and in studios, that Manduka mats must be scrubbed down with sea salt…personally, if I pay that much for a yoga mat, it should be user ready.
While I could go on and on about expensive mats that were ineffective. Instead I am going to give you my top two picks for yoga mats that will amaze you!
The following two mats are a tie for best mat, in my opinion. They have both captured my heart in different ways…which is important because your yoga mat becomes an extension of yourself. You learn, grow, sweat, cry and transform on your mat.
Jade Yoga is the first company I am mentioning, but not any closer to my heart than the second company I will mention after. Jade is in my top two, because they make an amazing yoga mat, but also because they are an incredible company. Jade is a family owned company, out of the United States, who began making yoga mats in 2000. Their mats are tapped from rubber trees (renewable resource) with no PVC’s, and are said to be “the first green and non-toxic mats on the market.” I have owned a Jade mat for many years and while they are quite slip resistant (very important) and quite cushy and comfortable, the biggest thing I love about Jade, is that they literally do so much charitable work…it’s hard to even mention it all. The main initiative they are involved with is the “buy a mat, plant a tree” campaign. Jade and Trees for the Future, work together on this. Together, they are planing a tree somewhere in the developing world, with every single mat sold! To date, they have planted over one million trees!
I could go on and on with the charities they are involved with…literally, almost everything they produce is linked to a charity they support. Extremely impressive! My only complaint about the Jade mats is that, in my experience, they tend to break down, with high temperatures and high use. Even still, that comment comes from someone who literally taught 30 hours of hot yoga per week for three years straight…any mat is bound to show signs of stress in those conditions. Jade yoga mats can be purchased online, https://www.jadeyogamats.ca/ or in select yoga studios.
The second company who makes an incredible mat (and we happen to sell at the studio) is B Yoga. They sell the B mat! The Bmat is the mat that I am currently using and have been rotating back and forth between a beautiful eggplant colour and a deep blue/green.
I have found that this mat is amazing for hot yoga, the ‘grippiness’ of this this mat is incomparable. The Bmat is a cool hybrid of slip resistance, sturdiness and softness. There is enough cushion to support your joints and bones while kneeling and sitting. There is also enough sturdiness to the mat, that you won’t be wobbling all over, in balance postures. I really do love the quality of this mat and what it brings to my practice. The other thing I love about this mat is that the company who makes it, is a Canadian company…and the mats themselves are soon to be MADE in CANADA! Early 2018. (currently manufactured in Spain.)
The one thing that is a touch disappointing about this company, is that there really does not seem to be much charitable or “give back work” being done. I searched their website for any signs of it and came up empty. While this company is fairly new, when comparing to other mat companies, they definitely fall short on giving back to their community and environment. That said, have the mats manufactured in Canada, is HUGE! Paying proper wages to workers and ensuring that all staff are being treated in a way that all of us consumers can be proud of. Bmats can be ordered online, or purchased at our studio (shameless plug!)
Happy mat hunting!
Jana, the modern day yogi.