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Yoga Mat 101: Get the Low-Down on Top 5 Brands

So you've decided to start practicing yoga- you found perfect fit studio, made the time in your schedule, downloaded the sign-in app...your commitment is steadfast. After attending class a few times, you notice your hands slip more than others, you're tripping on your rolling edges, your knees feel bruised- ahh! If this sounds familiar, you might be in the market for a new mat. Before making the investment, peep our peer reviews for all things Yoga Mats!

Jade Yoga- Harmony Mat

If you practice with us at TRIBE, Jade Yoga Mats may look familiar- we use them as our studio rentals so we are a bit biased here! Why did we go with Jade? With a variety of sizes, thickness, and colors, Jade is an affordable eco-friendly option for the everyday practitioner. Made out of open-cell recycled rubber, Jade Mats are wonderfully sticky...even in a hot sweaty class. Jade also makes Mat Towels to lay over the mat for those classes when the sweat begins to puddle (oh yeah, that happens to all of us...and it is BEAUTIFUL). In my experience, the towel-mat combo is a MUST in a hot class. From paper-thin travel mats (my current mat!) to extra thick and extra long, there is an option for everyone. Starting around $75 for the most popular version (Harmony, 3/16" thickness, 68" long), this mat is one of the most affordable professional mats will last for years of daily use. An added bonus for eco-minded customers- Jade plants one tree for every mat sold. Furthermore, certain color mats are sold in a fundraising effort for charities supporting causes such as ovarian cancer, autism, and breast cancer.

Manduka eKO/ eKO Lite

Manduka is another wonderful organization that offers a wide variety of mats- the most popular being the eKO line of eco-friendly rubber. Unlike Jade's open-cell concept, Manduka sports a textured surface to repel sweat, potentially prolonging the life of your mat. This mat also prioritizes longevity over completely eco-friendly materials, so it does contain PVC for added time. Manduka is so sure that this mat gets better with age that it provides a lifetime guarantee on its product. The eKO Lite is 4mm thick (as is the Jade Harmony) while the eKO is 5mm, and that 1mm makes a world of difference if you're lugging this mat around all day. The mat is more dense and slightly longer than the Jade Harmony, so it is considerably heavier, but the jury is out on which provides a more sticky surface. In most reviews, the Jade is preferred about 3:1 over the Manduka. That said, Manduka just released a new line- the eQua Hot Yoga mat, which combines their eKO mat with a towel-like surface, eliminating the need to buy both. We have yet to review this mat, but it's an exciting concept! Prices for all mats range from $68-110, depending on size and color.

LuLuLemon The Reversible Mat

This mat, available in 3mm and 5mm (worth it for sensitive knees), is a classic. Best for vinyasa-style classes, the smooth rubber surface provides limited stability in extra sweaty classes. The cushioning itself feels like a cloud and grip tends to be natural! The surface is great for moderately sweaty practices and absorbs sweat well. Most reviews name this as one of the most versatile mats that you can take to restorative, vinyasa, and sweaty classes. It is also a bit bigger than standard mats, but weight remains comparable. Beware of the potential rubbery smell, it has been treated to repel mold and bacteria as well. This is a great value for its cushiony support, smooth surface, and natural grip. Prices range from $68-78, and come in a variety of sizes and colors.

Liforme Yoga Mat

This mat is the most expensive on the list, clocking in at nearly twice the price of others- $120-140. What could be so great? This mat was developed after years of research from top yoga professionals and includes a design intended to support proper alignment throughout your physical practice. This is a highly durable mat that keeps comfort in mind. As one reviewer put it, this is the mat for those who want to know they are getting the very best mat that money can buy. It really does what it says, but it is up to you to decide if what is says is truly revolutionary enough to warrant the cost!

Gaiam and prAna Yoga Mats

Gaiam and prAna are two companies with a variety of budget-friendly mats that are eco-friendly and feature unique aesthetics. Starting around $20, these mats are fine for those classes that you don't anticipate sweating in. The thicker mats are ideal for restorative and gentle classes, while the medium thickness (3-4mm) is best for vinyasa-based classes. These mats are not incredibly durable and will wear down much faster than their more expensive counterparts, but there is still plenty of value to be had.

While it can feel overwhelming to pick out your new mat, just remember: the Mat does not make the Practice. As with all things, we all have unique needs and no review can make the choice for you! The general rules of success: find a mat the fits your budget, your ecological values, and makes you feel great! Most companies listed here are willing to go above and beyond to meet your needs and have a variety of mats to trade if the one you buy does not live up to standards.

What's your favorite mat? Comment below and leave your own #yogamatreview!

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