Robb Recommends: Best yoga mats for that ultimate stretch

From eco-friendly cork and cotton varieties to ayurvedic spreads that promote healing, these excellent workout accessories will help reach that ultimate stretch

As a child, I remember watching my mom strike a series of poses on a colourful yoga mat, twisting her limbs into strange configurations. “It’s good for you,” she’d say simply, smiling at my puzzled look. It wasn’t until much later that I finally understood what she was doing—and it took another decade or so after that for me to take a real interest in yoga myself.

Even now, I’m not the biggest yogi. I haven’t mastered too many advanced asanas, and I still struggle to wrap my head around the complex discipline despite having practiced it on and off for years. I’ll admit I sometimes get too restless to stick to the meditative method, easily abandoning it in favour of more heart-pumping exercises.

But when my mom asked me to help her shop for a new yoga mat after her favourite one was discontinued, I couldn’t say no. So we set out to find one that checked all her boxes—read: non-toxic, durable, and lightweight, with a respectable grip. It turns out yoga mats have come a long way since the ’90s, when she bought her first one. And together we learned everything we needed to know to make our final pick. I even ended up buying one for myself, splurging for the model with the top alignment system on the list.

I might not be an expert on yoga, but I will say I know way more now about yoga mats than the average person. So if you’re in the market for one, I’ve got you covered. Read on for three factors you need to take into account before placing your order.

What to consider before buying the best yoga mats

Material: Yoga mats are made using a range of materials, each with its own benefits and downsides. Cotton and hemp varieties are incredibly breathable and biodegradable, but are quick to absorb moisture and can be difficult to clean. Other sustainable mats are often crafted out of natural rubber or polyurethane (PU), both of which offer solid traction—or cork, which is lightweight and resistant to germs, dust, and odours. There’s also thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), a synthetic rubber that’s nontoxic and recyclable, but on the pricier side. Meanwhile, many yoga mats are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), an affordable substance that’s fairly durable and grippy—but also infamous for containing toxic chemicals, such as phthalates. (Note: Bikram yogis should avoid PVC mats, since they tend to leech harmful emissions when exposed to high heat.)

Size: When it comes to choosing the right dimensions, it’s crucial to consider your height and flexibility. If you’ve ever struck a warrior pose or low lunge and felt your heel touch the slippery bare floor, you probably need an extended mat. And if you have broader shoulders or longer arms than most, standard versions—which are usually around 61cm wide—might not cut it for you. Whatever size you pick, make sure it’s large enough to keep your body level and stable during your entire routine.

Thickness: How cushioned should your yoga mat be? That depends on how you plan to use it, and how much support you need. Many advanced poses are best performed on mats around four to five millimetres thick, since they typically offer equal parts support and stability. But for those who want a little more height for added comfort or protection, opt for more padded options—read: six millimetres or above.

Bennd Chakra Ayurvedic Yoga Mat
Bennd Chakra Ayurvedic Yoga Mat. Photo by Bennd Yoga

Best ayurvedic yoga mat

If you’re looking for an eco-conscious yoga mat made to promote healing, this one’s for you. The hand-loomed creation is made of naturally dyed raw cotton infused with a blend of 22 Ayurvedic medicinals. To boot, the lightweight spread features an antimicrobial bottom, hand-brushed with natural rubber for traction and designed to help boost lymphatic detox.

Material: Cotton
Dimensions: 72 x 24 inches
Thickness: One millimetre

Yours for US$257

Gaiam Performance Cork Yoga Mat
Gaiam Performance Cork Yoga Mat. Photo by Gaiam

Best cork yoga mat

For yogis with sensitive skin or bad allergies, cork mats—which are naturally antimicrobial—can be a godsend. Touting a close-cell design that contributes to its durability, this one is backed by a nonskid lightweight thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which is also hypoallergenic. Pro tip: Avoid leaving cork mats out in the sun for long periods of time, since it might cause them to weaken and fade.

Material: Cork and TPE.
Dimensions: 68 x 24 inches.
Thickness: Five millimeters.

Yours for S$59

Prada Yoga Mat
Prada Yoga Mat. Photo by Prada

Best high-fashion yoga mat

Strike a pose in style with this monochromatic mat, emblazoned with the Italian designer’s signature triangle logo. Perfect for stretching or meditating, the posh piece comes with a handy nylon band carrier and an adjustable woven shoulder strap for easy toting.

Material: Rubber and polyester
Dimensions: 68 x 24 inches
Thickness: N/A

Yours for S$3,350

Mikkoa Travel Yoga Mat
Mikkoa Travel Yoga Mat

Best travel yoga mat

Don’t have enough luggage space to carry a full-size yoga mat? Think again. This ultra-light mat is extremely portable, thanks to the fact that you can easily fold it up and pack it in just about every suitcase. Featuring a microfiber top that becomes easier to grip with a bit of water or sweat, the sustainable layer has a natural rubber base that offers ample floor support. And it’s also machine washable.

Material: Vegan microfibre suede and natural rubber
Dimensions: 72 x 26 inches
Thickness: 1.5 millimeters

Yours for AU$119

Manduka PRO Yoga Mat
Manduka Pro Yoga Mat

Most durable yoga mat

Boasting a proprietary no-slip grip pattern and ultra-dense cushioning, this heavy-duty yoga mat is just the thing for serious yogis who practice daily. Made of latex-free PVC that’s OEKO-TEX certified, the vegan-friendly spread—designed to last up to 10 years—showcases closed-cell construction that keeps out moisture and bacteria, making it easy to wipe down. Plus, it comes with a lifetime guarantee, which means you can get a one-time replacement in case you wear it out too quickly.

Material: PVC
Dimensions: 71 x 26 inches
Thickness: Six millimetres

Yours for €94.00

Jade Harmony Yoga Mat
Jade Harmony Yoga Mat. Photo by Jade Harmony

Best eco-friendly yoga mat

Jade Harmony Yoga Mat

Searching for something super sustainable? Free of any synthetic materials, this non-toxic spread—proudly made in the USA—is crafted out of all-natural renewable rubber, making it more environmentally friendly than most. As a bonus, Jade Yoga plants a tree for every mat sold, helping offset carbon emissions and deforestation around the world.

Material: Natural rubber
Dimensions: 74 x 24 inches
Thickness: 4.76 millimetres

Yours for S$148

Liforme White Magic Yoga Mat
Liforme White Magic Yoga Mat. Photo by Liforme

Best yoga mat for alignment

This beautiful cream-coloured spread—which showcases Liforme’s “magical” alignment system printed in nontoxic metallic ink—was designed to keep you calm and centred. The top of the mat offers just the right amount of grip, helping you maintain proper posture and ensuring you never slip. And the natural rubber base provides ample protection without sacrificing stability.

Material: Natural rubber and eco-polyurethane
Dimensions: 73 x 27 inches
Thickness: 4.2 millimetres

Yours for S$213

Lululemon The Mat
Lululemon The Mat. Photo by Lululemon

Best yoga mat for hot yoga

Lululemon might be beloved for its stylish, high-quality activewear, but its fitness accessories can be just as good. The brand did start out as purveyor of yoga gear after all. Sporting a chic marble motif, this heavy-duty mat is extra grippy, making it ideal for sweat-inducing sessions.

Material: Natural rubber, synthetic rubber, polyurethane, polyester, and nylon.
Dimensions: 71 x 26 inches.
Thickness: Five millimetres

Yours for S$108

Alerse Thick Yoga Mat
Alerse Thick Yoga Mat. Photo by Alerse

Best yoga mat for extra support

For next-level cushion and grip, invest in this one-of-a-kind yoga mat: the world’s first manufactured using the same technology found in premium athletic footwear. Inspired by sandy beaches, the plush runner—made of 75 per cent recyclable material—weighs relatively less than comparable models. Free of toxic chemicals and PVC, it’s a safe bet for both you and the Earth.

Material: Biofoam
Dimensions: 71 x 26 inches
Thickness: Eight millimetres

Yours for US$125

Grand Basics Teach-Yourself Yoga Mat
Grand Basics Teach-Yourself Yoga Mat. Photo by Grand Basics

Best instructional yoga mat

No time to take a class? No problem. Printed with 75 common yoga poses, from Downward Facing Dog to Lord of the Dance (plus 75 different stretches for various parts of the body), this extra-wide workout mat—which comes with a free shoulder bag—is all you need to learn the art of yoga on the fly, at your own pace.

Material: Non-slip foam
Dimensions: 72 x 48 inches
Thickness: Eight millimetres

Yours for S$229.78

This story was first published on Robb Report USA. Featured photo by Ginny Rose Stewart/Unsplash