Best yoga mat 2020: Master your poses with the best mats for pilates and yoga | T3

Best yoga mat 2020: Master your poses with the best mats for pilates and yoga

Whether you're a yoga master or don't know your asana from your elbow, we've found the best yoga mat for you

best yoga mats: Willow yoga
(Image credit: Willow yoga)

Yoga might be all about minimalism, but investing in one of the best yoga mats sure can help. From offering better grip to making things more comfortable on your joints, to helping your alignment through handy mat markings, picking up a good quality yoga mat can make all the difference when it comes to pushing your practice further. 

As yoga continues to grow in popularity, there's are more and more mat options available, offering different sizes, styles and cushioning. Companies are also exploring different finishes and materials to improve durability, grip, absorption and eco-friendliness. Having so much choice is great, but it can make it difficult to choose between different brands. This guide is here to walk you through your options and help you find the best yoga mat for your practice.

How to buy the best yoga mat for you

A good place to start on your hunt for the best yoga mat is comfort. Mats range from as thin as 3mm right up to around 8mm. While a thicker mat will help keep your knees and ankles happy, if you go too thick, you'll end up wobbling around in balancing poses. Consider what surface you'll be practicing on too: if you're on a carpet floor you'll be able to get away with a thinner mat, while harder surfaces might require something spongier.

Next up, think about grip. Finding a mat that'll cope well with sweaty palms and soles is key – especially if you do any hot yoga. The better the grip, the more you can push your limits without the distraction of slipping on the mat yourself, or the mat slipping on the floor. While adding one of the best yoga towels can help, there are plenty of yoga mats that offer good grip on their own.

Size is another major consideration. You may want the biggest possible mat so you can stretch out without reaching the edge – and also mark a bit more precious territory in that yoga studio. But size does mean more to carry, so considering more portable options, especially if you're on the move a lot, is also a factor.

One of the most important facts in choosing the best yoga mat is the material it's made from, which has implications in terms of comfort, portability, and eco-friendliness. Yoga mats made from polymer plastic (PVC) with phthalates won't biodegrade, and will release toxins when in landfill. However, lots of yoga companies have started exploring eco-friendly alternatives. The result can sometimes mean a compromise in quality or a different smell, and may also mean a more gentle cleaning process is needed. All that has been considered in our testing process.

Foam mats tend to be more lightweight than rubber ones, which is important if you're going to be toting it around a lot. However, they often have a bobbly, textured surface that can wear and become damaged fairly easily, impacting its shelf life in the longer term. Many also need to be 'broken in' to improve grip.

One consideration you may not have thought was important is line markings. Lots of mats now offer these to help you align your hands and feet so you know you're symmetrical. This is ideal for those with an imbalance or anybody just starting out that wants to be sure they're progressing in the right direction immediately.

Finally, you'll want to set a budget. The best yoga mats can be pretty expensive, while at the other end of the scale, you can pick up a super-basic option for peanuts. It's often worth spending a bit more for a mat that'll last – after all, you don't need much kit for yoga. So, with all that in mind, here are the best yoga mats out there right now.

The best yoga mats to buy now

Best yoga mat: The Lifeorme yoga mat

(Image credit: Lifeorme)

1. The Liforme Yoga Mat

Simply the best yoga mat you can buy

Specifications
Material: Natural rubber
Weight: 2.5kg
Thickness: 4.2mm
Dimensions: 185 x 68cm
Reasons to buy
+Amazing grip+Excellent support+Helpful line markings
Reasons to avoid
- Pricey

Liforme manages to offer an eco-friendly natural rubber mat that also delivers grip and works in dry or even sweaty classes. The line markings, dubbed AlignForMe, help you find the perfectly aligned position, from Warrior One to Down Dog. This leaves you feeling confident you're doing everything right – we even found ourselves stretching further thanks to that reassurance.

The extra width and length of this mat over some standard offerings also leaves you feeling more secure. The thickness is ideal: enough comfort for your bony bits while remaining slim enough for easy transport and wobble-free balance poses. The PVC-free material is biodegradable in as little as one year but the mat will last you years if you treat it right. The material doesn't smell, like some others out there, yet sweat absorption is excellent – but you will need to give this a wipe down fairly regularly to keep it that way.

best yoga mat: Yogi Bare Paws Yoga Mat

(Image credit: Yogi Bare )

2. Yogi Bare Paws Yoga Mat

A great eco-friendly, grippy mat at lower cost than a Liforme

Specifications
Material: Natural PU rubber
Weight: 2.5kg
Thickness: 4mm
Dimensions: 180 x 66cm
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic grip+Useful alignment markings+Eco-friendly
Reasons to avoid
-Can bunch occasionally

If you want the eco-friendly natural rubber of a top-end yoga mat that offers superb grip, in the wet or dry, but can't stretch to the cost of a Liforme, the next best thing is this Yogi Bare Paws yoga mat. Somehow the Yogi Bare gang have managed to offer much the same material as Lifeorm but at a far cheaper price. Sure it's slightly smaller in size and thinner too, but the grip is still there. Line markings aren't as useful but there are still a few that help with the basic moves. There's enough support from the thickness but it does tend to bunch a bit at times, meaning you need to smooth it out again between moves, but only a little – we're nit-picking. For the price this is one of the best yoga mats out there for grip.

Best yoga mat: Yogamatters Sticky yoga mat

(Image credit: Yogamatters)

3. Yogamatters Sticky Yoga Mat

The best budget yoga mat

Specifications
Material: PVC, latex-free
Weight: 1.2kg
Thickness: 4.5mm
Dimensions: 183 x 61cm
Reasons to buy
+Thick comfort+Affordable+Very lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-PVC-Must be broken in for grip-Textured surface can damage easily

If you're on a tight budget, the Yogamatters Sticky Yoga Mat is the best cheap yoga mat we've found. This affordable yoga mat still manages to offer great comfort and decent grip. At this price you will have to suffer the fact it's PVC, but at least that's latex free so it's not all bad for the environment. Despite that 4.5 mm cushioning that's enough for comfort, and the expansive 183cm length, this is still portable at a super-light 1.2kg. You can even pick from a whole host of attractive colours. A couple of down-sides compared to pricier models. You'll need to use this a few times before that grip improves, and the foamy, textured surface can catch on your nails, and become damaged (although it'll remain perfectly usable).

best yoga mat: With Every Atom

(Image credit: With Every Atom)

4. With Every Atom cork yoga mat

The best eco-friendly yoga mat

Specifications
Material: Natural rubber, cork
Weight: 2.25kg
Thickness: 4mm
Dimensions: 61 x 183cm
Reasons to buy
+Eco-friendly+Naturally grippy+Cool range of designs
Reasons to avoid
-Big logo-Cork mat marks with sweat

There are a few eco-friendly yoga mat brands around, but this is the best one we've tried. With Every Atom's brand is focused around sustainability and ethical practices. All mats are vegan, and made from sustainably sourced, natural and recycled materials. Design-wise, With Every Atom goes a little funkier than your standard yoga brand too, throwing cool leopard and tiger-print options into the mix alongside bright natural rubber designs (although we would prefer if the logo was a little subtler and smaller). 

We tried the cork yoga mat, which features a non-slip, cushioning natural rubber base with a sustainably-sourced premium cork topper (both are biodegradable). The cork is naturally grippy, and absorbs moisture without becoming slippy, even in the sweatiest class. The only slight down-side here was that we found it marked easily with sweat.

best yoga mat: Gaiam Premium Print Yoga Mat

(Image credit: Gaiam )

5. Gaiam Premium 6mm Yoga Mat

The best thick yoga mat for comfort

Specifications
Material: PVC, latex free
Weight: 2.2kg
Thickness: 6mm
Dimensions: 173 x 61cm
Reasons to buy
+Thick and supportive comfort+Affordable pricing+Lots of prints and colourways to choose from
Reasons to avoid
-PVC

When it comes to comfort, Gaiam's 6mm thick Premium Yoga Mat is a tough one to beat – also tough is trying to stay awake when lying down in your savasana with this under you. For those with sensitive bones that do a lot of practice on hard floors, this is a great, affordable way to find comfort in your poses. The non-slip grip makes this both hot and regular yoga friendly while the lifetime guarantee sets your mind at ease – although the PVC material may leave your eco-guilt tingling somewhat.  

best yoga mats: Willow yoga

(Image credit: Willow yoga)

6. Willow Yoga Premium Printed yoga mat

The best looking yoga mat around

Specifications
Material: Tree rubber
Weight: 2.5kg
Thickness: 4mm
Dimensions: 183cm x 61cm
Reasons to buy
+Attractive designs+Sustainably made with environmentally friendly rubber+Soft microfibre top layer
Reasons to avoid
-Can be slightly slippy when dry – spray before use

Willow Yoga makes the best looking printed yoga mats we've found. The attractive, floral designs are printed on a microfibre top layer that's strokable and soft to touch. This layer is absorbent and grips better the sweatier you get. While the grip is impressive when your hands and feet are a little clammy, we did find this mat could be slightly slippy right at the beginning of a practice (the company recommends misting the mat with water before you start).  

Willow Yoga also has impressive eco-credentials. All the mats in the range are sustainably made using only eco-friendly, biodegradable materials, and are free from PVCs, silicone and phthalates. You can pop it them the washing machine (without detergent) when they need it, too. A nice touch is that the mat comes with a carry strap included. The simple design, fashioned from a single piece of wide webbing tape, works an absolute treat and lets you show off the mat while you're on the go, too. 

best yoga mats: Lululemon The Reversible Mat

(Image credit: Lululemon )

7. Lululemon The Reversible Mat

The best yoga mat for travel

Specifications
Material: Polyurethane top layer, natural rubber
Weight: 1.76kg
Thickness: 3mm
Dimensions: 180cm x 66cm
Reasons to buy
+Nice and grippy+Lightweight for rubber+Reversible, with two different textures
Reasons to avoid
-Marks easily-Textured side has poor grip

if you're looking for a yoga mat for travel, the Lululemon Reversible Mat is a great versatile, lightweight option. First up, you're getting two textures for the price of one: the smooth side will see you through even the sweatiest hot yoga class without a slip, while the textured side will work for calmer practices (although the grip is a little disappointing here, so you'll want to flip it over for anything adventurous). This mat is also nice and lightweight for a rubber. Admittedly, this is partly because it's just 3mm thick, but that'll still provide a nice cushioned layer – and you can go for the 5mm version if you want more padding.

Sustainability-wise, Lululemon gets half marks, mixing eco-friendly rubber with a polyurethane top layer that's not so good for the planet. The only other slight down-side is that we found that this mat became marked with sweat fairly quickly. Overall though, it's still a great all-rounder, and especially handy for those who want a mat to tote around.

Best yoga mat: Manduka Prolite

(Image credit: Manduka)

8. Manduka Prolite yoga mat

Ideal for yogis on the move who enjoy comfort

Specifications
Material: PVC, latex free, sustainably produced
Weight: 1.8kg
Thickness: 4.7mm
Dimensions: 180 x 61cm
Reasons to buy
+Superb support and comfort+Ideal size for portability 
Reasons to avoid
- Needs use to break-in for grip

While Manduka does use PVC materials (latex free though) it's process is OEKO-TEX certified meaning it's friendlier to the environment and comes with a lifetime guarantee. The 4.7mm of thickness this offers is supported by dimpled cushioning making it super comfortable while also stopping sweat absorption to keep it cleaner for longer. The grip could be better initially, but after a bit of use this improves. An initial processes of leaving this covered in sea salt for 24 hours is required for early-use grip – a bit of a faff but worth it. The weight and size is portable without compromising on comfort, making it ideal for taking to classes with hard floors.

Best yoga mat: Jade Yoga Harmony

(Image credit: Jade)

9. Jade Harmony Professional Yoga Mat

Portable, comfortable, eco-friendly and affordable

Specifications
Best for: Affordable comfort and grip
Material: Natural Rubber
Weight: 2.2 kg
Thickness: 4.7mm
Dimensions: 172 x 71cm
Reasons to buy
+Excellent grip+Eco-friendly+Decent thickness support
Reasons to avoid
-Could be wider

Jade Yoga prides itself on creating eco-friendly yoga mats while also dishing out some very eye catching colours that don't scrimp on surface grip. The result is a real all-rounder which manages to offer enough grip and thickness to support a beginner or a pro yogi and everyone in between too. Three size options are available, making this adaptable to suit taller and shorter yogis alike. The price is really impressive for what you get and the portability make this perfect for home use as well as taking out to classes.