Best Yoga Mat for Beginners
Yoga is such a tempting fitness activity. It seems at once relaxing and arduous — and it is. The body responds to yoga in amazing ways, and there are plenty of reasons why so many athletes, celebrities and everyday people swear by it.
And you don’t need much to get started. In fact, all you really need are some comfortable clothes and a yoga mat.
But what type of yoga mat do you need? Once you start exploring the yoga mat universe, you’ll find yourself awash in options. How can you narrow down those many options to the perfect one for you?
Let us help. Here’s a look at options for the best yoga mat for beginners, as well as some tips on what to look for as you search for the perfect fit.
1. Manduka PROlite Yoga and Pilates Mat — Best Overall!
Manduka is one of the most trusted names in yoga, and its mats reflect its depth of experience in this activity. The Manduka PROlite Yoga and Pilates Mat is our recommendation for best yoga mat for beginners due to how it offers almost everything a first-timer could want out of a mat.
You’ll enjoy a nice blend of weight and cushion, getting more than 4 mm in padding in a package that weight only 4.6 pounds — more than acceptable if you’re lugging your yoga mat any distance.
You also enjoys options when choosing the PROlite Yoga and Pilates Mat from Manduka. Buy it in two different lengths — 71 inches or 79 inches if you’re just a bit taller. And choose from among a wide range of different mat colors.
Is the Manduka PROlite Yoga and Pilates Mat right for you?
2. Jade Level 1 Yoga Mat — Best for Value!
Maybe you’re not ready to spend more than $50 on a yoga mat for beginners. If that’s the case, look no further than the Jade Level 1 Yoga Mat, which is available in a price range right around $40 — or less depending on available deals.
This option from Jade provides just a little bit less cushion than the Manduka option above — 4 mm rather than 4.6 mm. That means you’ll enjoy greater contact with the floor, but it’s possible this also leads to greater discomfort. You also enjoy fewer color options with the Level 1 Yoga Mat. Length is limited to 68 inches, too, which might make it a bad fit for taller beginners.
But the Jade Level 1 Yoga Mat remains a durable option for budget-minded beginners. If you’re unsure about yoga and looking for a product that will let you jump in and test the water, this might be the perfect fit for you.
Is the Jade Level 1 Yoga Mat right for you?
3. Indigena Natural Yoga Mat — Best for Sustainability!
If sustainability is a priority as you search for the best yoga mat for beginners, meet the Indigena Natural Yoga Mat from prAna. This mat is made from layers of biodegradable tree rubber (non-Amazon) with a wood-grain surface that provides the texture any beginner needs in a yoga mat.
The Indigena Natural Yoga Mat weighs a little bit more than other options at 6.1 pounds, but it’s also a little bit longer at 78 inches. Choose from among three different colors, and enjoy a solid 4 mm in cushioning.
Beginners who love sustainability will also rave about this yoga mat’s balance between cushioning and stability.
Is the Indigena Natural Yoga Mat right for you?
4. Lole Travel Yoga Mat — Best for Travel!
It can be incredibly difficult to stay in shape while you’re traveling for work or even while you’re traveling for pleasure. That’s why yoga can be such a positive activity for the travel-minded — as long as you have the right yoga mat.
The Lole Travel Yoga Mat is a perfect solution if you’re looking to do some yoga while traveling. At just 1 mm thick, it’s rubber construction folds right up and fits into your suitcase. Of course, you won’t get the cushion you would from other products, but those other products won’t travel nearly as well.
You do get some additional length from the Lole Travel Yoga Mat — it is 72 inches long. And you can choose from three different color options.
Is the Lole Travel Yoga Mat right for you?
5. Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat — Best for Style!
As noted below, style is an important part of making your yoga mat purchasing decision. When you’re doing yoga, your mat is one of the few places where you can truly express yourself — and the Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat is one option that definitely lets you express yourself.
Choose from a wide range of different print options, ranging from the subtle to the bold. You get standard sizing with the Premium Print Yoga Mat — 24 inches in width and 68 in length. But you do get a little extra cushioning compared to options above, as this mat is 5–6 mm thick.
The Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat is also available at a low price, depending on the print option you choose. This low price tag further reinforces its position as a leading option for beginners.
Is the Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat right for you?
Key Considerations When Buying a Yoga Mat
The options listed above are all great for first-time yoga participants. But, if you want to search on your own, make sure you’re asking the right questions and looking for the right things. To help you get started, here’s a look at 9 key considerations when buying a yoga mat.
While you can find yoga mats in a wide range of different material options, here’s a look at the three most common materials:
- Vinyl: Also known as PVC, vinyl is the most common yoga mat material. You enjoy a nice mix of comfort, durability and stickiness (grip) with vinyl options. That main drawback to PVC/vinyl is its lack of eco-friendliness. If you want an alternative, look for foam yoga mats. They are more eco-friendly, but they also include latex — which might cause allergy problems for some participants.
- Rubber: Rubber is becoming a popular alternative to vinyl or PVC yoga mats. While rubber is more eco-friendly than vinyl, it also includes latex — which again poses problems for many beginners.
- Cotton: This is the traditional yoga mat material. It doesn’t offer much in the way of comfort, of course, but many will use a cotton yoga mat on top of vinyl or rubber. The benefits of cotton are that it absorbs sweat better than the other materials, and it’s also lighter and more transportable than others. As an alternative, try jute — which isn’t quite as absorbent and is a little bit rougher.
Recommendation: It’s best to start out with a PVC/vinyl yoga mat. It offers the greatest number of benefit, and it will allow you to ease into yoga without experiencing any discomfort. You can switch it up later to find something that’s more eco-friendly, if that’s important to you.
You want to feel comfortable above all else when doing yoga. Get the wrong mat, though, and you won’t feel comfortable at all. You may mistake this discomfort for a dislike of yoga, which would be sad. So don’t let that happen to you.
Yoga mats tend to range between 1/8 and ¼ inch in thickness. You’ll want to find a mat that lets you feel the contact with the floor, but one that also lets you feel the floor without your knees and the rest of your body getting sore.
And then there’s a matter of weight and storage. Typically, the thicker the mat the heavier it will be and the more storage space it will require. If you won’t have to carry your mat far and if you have plenty of space for storage, this shouldn’t be an issue.
If you’re looking to take your yoga mat when you travel, find an extra-thin option — something that’s about 1/16 inch. You’ll sacrifice on comfort, but you’ll be able to fold your mat. And being able to fold your mat is the only way to fit it into a suitcase.
Recommendation: Start with a mat that’s 1/8 inch. This thickness is typically the ideal balance between comfort and contact, as well as a thickness that allows for easy transport and storage.
Almost all yoga mats are 2-feet wide. It’s the length of a yoga mat that varies. The standard length is 68 inches, but you can also find mats that are 72, 74 and 84 inches long.
The standards, 68-inch length should get the job done for most. But try this if you’re unsure: Go into a downward-facing-dog pose on the mat you’re interested in, and make sure your feet and hands all fit onto the mat without pushing the boundaries. If everything fits, you should be good to go. If you’re struggling to stay on the mat, look for something longer.
Recommendation: 68 inches should do the trick for most. But, if you’re 6-feet tall or taller, you might want to explore a longer mat. Just remember that added length means added weight, so you’ll be toting around a heavier product.
Yoga mats weight anywhere between a pound or 2 up to 7 or 8 pounds. Of course, the weight of your mat depends on its size and material. You’ll find that smaller mats weigh less on average, and you’ll also find that PVC and rubber mats weigh more than cotton or jute alternatives.
You should only worry about weight if you’re going to be walking long distances with your mat in tow. For example, if you live in New York City and you’re walking 12 blocks to the yoga studio, you might want something lighter. Or, if you’re traveling with your mat, you might want something lighter to fit into your suitcase.
Recommendation: Focus on material and size first. Once you find a material and size that’s comfortable for you, confirm that you can handle the weight.
Stickiness (or grip) is SO important. Why? Because you’ll find that you slip and slide all over the place if you don’t have a sticky mat. This is especially the case for those who sweat more than most.
This is one reason why PVC/vinyl mats are so popular — they are the stickiest options on the market. Just keep in mind that clean mats are sticky mats, which might sound counterintuitive at first. Give you mat a good cleaning once a week to ensure that it stays as sticky as possible.
Recommendation: Stickiness is going to be incredibly important to the success of a beginner in yoga. So go with a PVC/vinyl option that will provide the grip you need and ensure that you have the most success possible as a first-timer.
Similar to stickiness, texture in a mat helps you keep from slipping and sliding all over the place. The trick is to find mats that are textured enough to provide stabilization without being so textured that they feel rough.
PVC mats tend to be best for texture, providing that nice balance. If you go for a jute option, you may find that the natural texture is simply too rough for comfort.
Recommendation: Again, this is why PVC yoga mats tend to be the best option for beginners. They provide a nice balance of all that’s needed for success — the right amount of texture included.
Now you can have some fun: Choose a style of yoga mat that you love. You can find mats in bold and striking colors, or you can choose a pattern that you fall in love with. Your mat’s style is an opportunity for you to express yourself and make a statement about who you are to your fellow yogis.
Recommendation: No fear. Go with what your heart tells you, and never look back.
We’ve already covered the lack of eco-friendliness in PVC/vinyl options and how that pushes some to choose rubber, cotton or jute options. There’s nothing wrong with that. You just need to know that there’s tension between PVC options being your best bet as a beginner and a desire to find more sustainable options.
Recommendation: Give yourself the best chance to find success in yoga by using a PVC option. Once you get into the swing of things, donate your PVC mat and find a more sustainable option that aligns with your values.
You get what you pay for in a yoga mat. The more you pay, the more comfortable you will be and the more durability you’ll get out of your purchase. Don’t spend crazy dollars on a mat, but don’t skimp just to save a few bucks.
Recommendation: Find a mat that’s is comfortable first. Then take a look at the prices. If you start with price first, you’ll most likely sacrifice comfort, and you’ll probably get less value out of your investment.
Final Thoughts on Best Yoga Mat for Beginners
One last thing: I’m thrilled you’re exploring yoga! Looking for a yoga mat is a great first step, but make sure you take the second step: actually going to a class. It can be intimidating to walk into a yoga studio and to feel like you’re the only newbie there. But everyone has to start somewhere. And you’ll find that you get lots of support and help from the instructor and your fellow classmates.
So just do it! Find a mat that fits your needs and preferences, and then find a class that fits your location and schedule. You’re going to love it.
What’s your recommendation for the best yoga mat for beginners? Let us know in the comments section below, or send us a message directly through our contact form.
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