I know what it means to find the perfect yoga mat. The one that’s not too soft but not too firm, not too sticky but not too slippery, not too heavy but not going to fall apart after a couple practices either. I know how good it feels when you finally step onto The One, and I know just how elusive that perfect combination can be. That’s why, since founding DoYogaWithMe, I have been on a quest to find the world’s best yoga mats, test them, and report back to aid you on your personal quest.
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.
While it was tough to find the routine I wanted on Yoga Journal, I kept coming back to the site for its invaluable 360-degree video explanations of different poses. Learning basic postures (called asanas) quickly made me more comfortable and confident in my practice. You’ll pick them up as you go, but if you prefer to study ahead of time, you can use Yoga Journal to learn these poses:
We wanted to make sure our top picks would be easy to clean and durable (no mid-session mat shrapnel here!) We found that more porous, open-cell mat surfaces tended to be grippier, but were also harder to clean — they tend to absorb everything, like a giant sponge. Smooth, closed-cell surfaces tend to be easier to clean, but may be more slippery. The sweet spot is a mat that’s just grippy enough but doesn’t hold onto dirt and debris.
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.
The standard thickness of a regular yoga mat is 4–5 millimeters. Travel mats are generally 3 millimeters or less, and thick mats are 6–9 millimeters. The type of yoga you practice can help you figure out which thickness is right for you. Instructor Jane Witzenburg advises, “If you are doing a lot of lunges, use a thicker mat. If you are doing more balancing postures, use a thinner mat.”
Experts say: "My channel is all about finding support for creating a body-affirming yoga practice that fits people's regular lives. On the channel, folks can find pose tips, practices, and discussion about making yoga work for people of all shapes and sizes and how yoga can be a powerful tool for body acceptance." — Anna Guest-Jelley, Yoga Teacher and Founder of Curvy Yoga
About the channel: Jessamyn Stanley is a yoga instructor, a body activist, and a self-titled "fat femme" on a mission to defy stereotypes about who can do yoga. Her channel has mostly short videos on how to do poses, but she also has a couple classes and inspirational talks. She's been featured all over, from our site to Glamour to Cosmo, and for good reason: She's a total badass.
Sometimes you need more than a couple of minutes of stretching. That’s where Yin Yoga, a practice that involves holding poses for long periods of time (usually three to five minutes) comes in. Yogi Nora directs you through a series of poses—some of which involve a pillow, score!—with the goal of helping you to let go and find flexibility. (via Yogi Nora)
Experts say: "As an African-American yoga teacher who is also Muslim, Amin is uniquely positioned as a yoga teacher to serve both the community of American Muslims and others. She offers the physical, mental and spiritual qualities of yoga in a way that does not detract from Islamic beliefs. She is an embodied example of the Oneness that is the true reality of life." —Jana Long, Yoga Teacher and Director of Power of One Yoga Center
Yoga mats are normally around 72" / 182 cm long and have a width of 24" / 60 cm. Some practitioners prefer extra-wide mats (30" / 78 cm) for positions such as Surya Namaskar or hand-balances. Yoga mats range in thicknesses from 2 mm (lightweight) to 4–5 mm (standard or "classic") and up to 7 mm for either high performance mats reserved for professional daily practices while guaranteeing little wear-out, or soft mats providing extra cushioning during yoga therapy.
At 5.5 pounds and 4.2 millimeters, the Liforme is relatively light and thin for a partly-rubber mat. Our more experienced testers thought it was “the perfect thickness,” though one added, “I think if other people had more sensitive joints, it would be slightly painful.” If you need more cushion, we’d recommend the Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Mat or the Jade Fusion Mat.
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.
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.
Dear road warriors and treadmill champs: You’re tight. (And by that, we mean your lower-body muscles are tight!) This routine boosts flexibility in the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. The key? Spending some quality time in the poses and—as instructor Erin Motz notes—remembering to breathe deeply throughout so you don’t restrict blood flow to these areas. (via DoYouYoga.com)
I bought this mat around 2 years ago when I started actively practicing. It has been through a lot with me, even a yoga teacher training! The pattern on the mat is beautiful and soothing, always gives me a good vibe when I roll the mat out. It has been a long time so it has gotten some little cracks in it, and over time it can feel thin when you need to be on the mat for an entire day. But I still love it because of the sentimental values. Now I am back to buy another one from Hugger Mugger – probably a thicker one.
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.
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 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. Shift the weight toward your toes. Straighten your arms and lift your chest away from your thighs to make a flat back.
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.
A good yoga mat should walk the line between being squishy enough to take some of the pressure off your joints, while being dense enough to offer a stable foundation. Too-soft mats may be comfortable, but they’re difficult to hold a pose on — and while you can stand on a too-firm mat forever, you may end up hurting your joints. Beginners, pregnant yogis, and people with sensitive joints should consider thicker mats, which offer more support. Yogis who commute or travel a lot may prefer thinner mats that are easier to roll up and carry.
The leading yoga publication’s video section is a comprehensive resource with 360-degree views to better understand the nuances of every pose. The routines are more technical, more likely to use Sanskrit terms, and more athletically challenging than the ones I came across on DoYogaWithMe. My two main gripes with Yoga Journal’s online offerings: The videos were often shorter than I’d like (I find I need about an hour to get into a meditative, head-clearing state) and didn’t include any user reviews, so I found myself clicking around aimlessly in search of videos that would be a good fit. That being said, the production quality and detailed explanation of each pose is hard to beat when it comes to free yoga resources.
Sweet dreams are made of these... yoga poses. You’ll move through shoulder-opening poses to relieve stress, gentle forward bends (which host Jason Crandell says will quiet nerves), and hip openers that’ll help slash tension. Plus, the fact that Crandell’s detailed, easy-to-follow instruction is as soothing as the sequence itself helps set you up for some quality shut-eye. (via Yoga Journal)
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.
My Foundations of Yoga series is built for beginners! Welcome friends and future yogis. The Foundational series is Instructional should not feel intimidating. It will get you on your mat and into your body while also preparing you for public classes local yoga opportunities. Whether you are looking to lose weight, tone the body or create more flexibility this series (most importantly) will help you to FIND WHAT FEELS good. It will connect you to yourself and serve as an invitation back to your true self. I invite you to hop on the mat and play. Let the process be about exploration and not about doing it perfect. I encourage you to leave comments and let me know how your experiments go. Even just 1 minute a day goes a long way!
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
Lastly, your yoga clothes should be comfortable on and off the mat. Yogiwear is designed to fit comfortably around your skin, removing any distractions that your clothing might be creating. Our clothing is also designed to make any workout better and easier. The fabric is entirely breathable, so it won’t get in the way of any strenuous workout you have.