The Liforme Yoga Mat rolled out with a quietly satisfying plop and seemed firmly set in the ground, ready for action. We never had to worry about the mat sliding around on the floor or about sliding around on top of it ourselves. The Liforme mat has a natural, grippy rubber base and smooth, matte polyurethane top. It’s not so sticky it catches you while you’re trying to switch positions (like the Hugger Mugger Para Rubber did), but was grippy enough to keep us stable even during hot yoga sessions. One tester noted, “The sweater I got, the stickier the mat was.”
About the channel: Gaiam is a lifestyle brand originally founded in Colorado that focuses on yoga, fitness, wellness, and the environment. As part of their brand, they have a YouTube channel where they offer classes by well-known yoga instructors, like Rodney Yee and Colleen Raidman. Most of the videos are of just teachers, though some of them have students in them, too.
You just need to know where to start, and this article is designed to simplify your choices. I’ve waded through the mass of lesser mats to bring you what I consider the Top 10 Best Yoga Mats of 2018. This list includes mats intended for home, studio, or travel, and for each one I provide a summary -- weight, materials, where it was made -- a description of my personal experience with it, and rate 7 features from 1 to 10, using the following system:
Class duration ranges from 10 to 60 minutes, and each yoga teacher provides the accurate, meticulous instruction you expect when entering a yoga studio. Find classes revolving around strengthening the core, or those designed to sweat out toxins. Inversion work, yoga for strength or wellness, classes that open the hips.…these and more are waiting for you, any time of day, whenever it’s most convenient for you and your busy schedule.
Yoga for Dummies is a six-part series of 10-minute videos. Put them together, and you’ve got a great starter yoga class that eases you into your practice. West’s channel has dozens of videos to choose from. I’d recommend starting with her beginner playlist, especially Namaste Episode 101. The 11 videos on the playlist are some of the best explanations of poses that I’ve come across. And West’s personable nature will keep you coming back.
On an inhale, reach your front hand as far forward toward as you can, bringing the rib cage forward. On an exhale, hinge forward from the hip joint, reaching your right arm down and your left arm up, creating straight line up and down. Place your right fingertips either on top of your right ankle, on the floor, or on a block just outside the ankle. Extend the arms and open the chest.
This video’s racked up more than a million views for one reason: It rocks. California-based yogi Tim Senesi kills it with this total-body vinyasa flow, which is geared for beginner to intermediate yogis (though it does include some more advanced arm-balance poses, like twisted crow). His super-specific direction makes it easy to follow and so enjoyable. (via Fightmaster Yoga)
I started feeling my left knee pop and my back ache at the base of my neck. With any new exercise, it’s normal to feel some new aches and pains while your muscles adjust. When you release tight muscles as you start doing yoga, it impacts your overall posture and muscles in unexpected places across your body, which might make you sore. Since I’m a desk worker, I wasn’t surprised that waking up neglected neck muscles was uncomfortable—they always get sore when I exercise my upper body, and the sensation was familiar.
On an inhale, raise your arms straight up above your head and bring your palms together. Bend your knees slightly, and on the exhale, hinge at your hips to fold forward, lengthening your spine the whole way down as you reach your hands for the floor. Bring either your fingertips or palms to the floor, fingers in line with your toes. Slowly straighten your legs as much as you can without straining them.
Celebrity yoga instructor Hilaria Baldwin is all about using yoga to combine fitness with mind-body balance. This flow draws upon her five major principles: perspective, breathing, grounding, balance, and letting go. The quick sequence features moves that are guaranteed to help you feel balanced and centered, perfect for incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine.
Bring your shoulders, hips, and heels into a straight line (imagine that there is a straight line from your head to heels). Keep your shoulders over your wrists. Engage your abdominals. Press your palms into the ground to engage your triceps and biceps. Press your shoulder blades down the back, and lengthen your sternum forward to keep your chest open. Look toward the front of the mat.
Experts say: "When you watch Tim's videos, his laid-back 'California' vibe truly shines through. People love him because his yoga videos are geared for both beginner and intermediate practitioners, and he'll also throw an advance yoga posture into the mix, which makes his videos more dynamic than other typical online classes. He always gives very specific instructions, too. When you watch Tim, you feel like you are getting more than just an online yoga class — you feel like you are getting to know the 'real Tim.'" — Serena Tom, Yoga Teacher, Equinox
Feeling overwhelmed? Yoga can help you take a step back from your busy schedule and find balance. A stressed-out mind often means a tense body (think: a clenched jaw, a stiff neck), so a calming yoga flow can give you a sense of relief both inside and out. Clinical therapist and yoga instructor Lauren Taus leads the way in this short but restorative flow, which is designed to give you an opportunity slow down and de-stress.
Over the years, I have tested mats from just about every well-established brand and many from lesser-known up-and-comers. I have watched technologies, materials and designs evolve to meet the needs of an ever growing number of yogis, and I have observed how brands have risen (or failed to rise) to the challenge of a more sustainable future. If you’re ever going to find that perfect mat for you, I can tell you there’s never been a better time than right now.
The “grippiness” of a mat has two parts. One is how grippy the mat is against your hands and feet — are you slowly sliding out of place during warrior pose, or are you solidly planted? The other is the traction of the mat against the floor: Does your mat slip around on smooth floors, or is it firmly stuck in place throughout your session? Sweat can be a factor too, especially if you practice an intensive form like hot yoga, so you want to make sure your mat will stay grippy through it all.
The way the capitalist economy works makes it very hard for most of us to get the basics we need to stay alive, including housing and healthcare. We are encouraged to become competitive money making bots, and we are denied the time to attend to the things that really matter, like caring for community members, mending the environment or enjoying being alive on this planet. This contradiction makes some of us anxious and/or depressed, and/or leads to addiction and untransformative social unrest.
We were initially pretty skeptical about the special alignment markings, thinking they might just be a gimmick — but our testers were taken with how helpful the markings were in practice. A centerline helps you maintain symmetry, while 45-degree lines and other parallel markings help you nail perfect alignment. (Lines are spaced at varied distances for taller and shorter people). Liforme explains how the markings should be used more thoroughly on its website, but we found this to be pretty intuitive for experienced testers, even if they didn’t read the instructions.
The grippiest, most comfortable yoga mat in the world is still a pain if you’re constantly struggling to lug it to and from class. If you intend on commuting with your mat, you may want to consider one that is lighter or comes with a carrying case. Just remember that if it doesn’t, a carrying case will cost extra. Weight and thickness also come into play. Heavier and thicker mats will be a bit bulkier to travel with than sleeker, thinner ones.
Women's yoga clothing from Old Navy is an excellent investment because of the range of options for integrating them into your everyday wardrobe. Of course, a full zip compression jacket is a great choice for warming up before or cooling down after a session, but is also ideal for running errands or casual weekend wear. Stylish yoga tops from this collection can be worn for drinks after a session thanks to their quick drying material, and their distinctive colors and embellishments will keep their eye catching appeal long term thanks to their wash and wear design. Yoga pants have become a staple of modern style with the sleek and streamlined silhouette they can create. Teaming a pair up with a flowing top showing off a modern cut and a fun, vibrant color creates a no fuss ensemble that works in a variety of venues. Complete the look with a cute pair of flats in a textured material such as leather or suede to give the pairing depth, or choose a pair of low profile athletic sneakers to play up the sporty aesthetic. Build a seamless rotation of active and casual looks with yoga apparel for women from Old Navy.