Choosing a Yoga Mat

Traditionally, Indian yogis would practice on bare earth or cotton rugs. Yoga mats are actually a recent invention with yoga studios providing mats to cushion and protect your joints. They also offer some friction to prevent slipping, making your practice more comfortable. With the threat of Covid-19, most studios now recommend that members bring their own mats for hygiene reasons. It can be hard to pick one with so many choices out there. The standard measurements for the average yoga mat are 180cm by 66cm with a thickness of between 4-5 millimetres. Generally a yoga mat should be comfortable providing support for your practice. It would be made of non-slip material and easy to clean. So when you are looking for your own mat whether to use at home or to bring to the studio, there are some key considerations.

Thickness/Weight

Yoga mats range from 6mm to 1.6mm in thickness and this determines the comfort of your practice. If the mat is too thin, there is inadequate protection for your knees and joints and you may find it uncomfortable or even painful. However if the mat is too thick, it may compromise the stability of your balancing poses.

6mm thickness. Standard size used in yoga studios, thicker mats offer the best comfort and support. However if the mat is too thick, you may find that you are losing contact and connection to the ground. Standing poses that require balancing on 1 leg, e.g. Tree Pose, becomes more challenging. Thicker mats provide extra cushioning and are good for therapeutic practices like Restorative, Yin and Prenatal Yoga where comfort is important. If you do a lot of core work lying on your back, this may also be a good option. Thicker mats are also heavier but there are premium mats which are “open cell” (porous mats e.g. Manduka eKO and Jade Harmony) making them lighter than inexpensive mats with similar thickness.

4mm-5mm thickness. This thickness is suitable for home use providing enough cushioning for your knees. Certain poses, however, may still require additional cushioning with the help of a towel or knee pad. With many options for lighter travel mats in the market, there is no need to lug this to your yoga studio.  There are many other options for travel mats which you can lay over the studio mats. 

1-3mm thickness. Known as travel mats, these are light and portable. You can use them when you travel or bring them to the studio to provide that extra hygiene protection. They can be folded or rolled up and easily packed into a suitcase or backpack.

Stickiness/Grip

A sticky yoga mat keeps you from slipping and helps you hold poses in alignment. It is how well your skin sticks to the mat with a suction-like feel. You can test the “stickiness of a mat in a downward dog. Your hands will not slide forward.

Or you can opt for “open cell” mats which are porous, meaning they can absorb sweat and moisture. Popular examples include the Manduka eKO and Jade mats. They have a textured surface which are crucial in providing traction preventing your hands and feet from slipping. So they are popular with people taking hot yoga classes. However because these mats trap moisture, it is important to air and clean them often. The high end premium open cell mats may include anti-bacterial agents in the material.

“Closed-cell” mats are not absorbent. Popular examples include the Manduka Pro, Liforme, Lululemon, and the Gaiam Print Mat.  They are not suitable for hot classes though the Liforme, Lululemon and the Alo Warrior Mat have a top layer of polyurethane, which creates a sticky, non-slip grip that’s ideal for hot yoga in the same way as the open-cell mats.

Material/Texture

There are several materials to consider, with different textures, levels of stickiness , eco-friendliness, sponginess and durability. Traditionally, yoga mats are made of PVC (plastic-based materials).  Now there are more options including eco-friendly alternatives like recycled rubber, jute, organic or natural cotton. If you’re allergic to latex, avoid yoga mats made of natural rubber which also have a rubber smell when they are new. PVC mats are durable, easy to clean and offer good grip but they are non-absorbent and can be slippery when you sweat. They are also not biodegradable or environmentally friendly.

Price

A basic 3mm thick, plain solid colour PVC sticky yoga mat will be on the lower end of the price range. While eco-friendly yoga mats tend to be pricier. Generally, thicker mats last longer than thinner mats. However durability also depends on the material the mat is made from.

Mats We Like

Manduka ProLite Yoga Mat
1.8kg
4.7mm thickness
S$169
Available from manduka.sg

The choice brand for most yoga studios (Manduka Pro), it provides adequate padding with the right amount of grip. The closed cell surface prevents sweat from seeping into the mat and breeding bacteria. This high quality mat should last a lifetime or two (comes with a lifetime guarantee – “Should a PRO™ mat wear out past its useful life from regular use under normal conditions, Manduka will replace the product.”) The price is reasonable for its quality and durability. It is non-toxic, 100 percent latex free with an emissions-free manufacturing process.

Manduka eKO Superlite Yoga Mat
1kg
1.5mm thickness
S$89
Available from manduka.sg

You get ultimate portability with this super light and thin mat which you can place on top of the thicker studio mat. The surface design prevents sweat from seeping into the mat and it is made from sustainably harvested tree rubber.

Liforme Original Yoga Mat
2.5kg
4.2mm thickness
£100 (S$186)

Liforme Travel Mat
1.6kg
2mm thickness

Liforme Orginal and Travel Mat Bundle
£150.00 (S$279)
Available from liforme.com

This immensely popular mat has an amazing non-slip surface providing firm stability and soft cushioning with a natural rubber base and an eco-polyurethane top surface making it suitable for use in normal temperature as well as hot classes as it doesn’t get slippery with your sweat. The AlignForMe system, a series of lines on the mat, helps in alignment during practice. It is also environmentally friendly. A little pricey though, as it doesn’t come with a lifetime guarantee.

Lululemon’s The Reversible Mat
2.4kg
5mm thickness
US$88 (S$118)
Available on lululemon.com

This thick natural rubber mat has two sides: a smooth, “sticky” polyurethane side that makes your hands and feet “stick” to the mat, and a spongy, natural rubber “grippy” side that provides traction via a textured surface. It is slightly oversized—3 inches longer and 2 inches wider than a standard mat. As such it is on the heavier side but built to last.

The JadeYoga Harmony Mat
2.2kg
4.8mm thickness
S$138

Jade Voyager Mat
680g
1.6mm thickness
S$65

Jade Travel Mat
1.4kg
3mm thickness
S$98
Available from www.jadeyoga.sg

Every time someone buys a Jade Yoga mat, a tree will be planted in collaboration with Trees for the Future so your purchase will help support environmentally and economically sustainable projects. Made from open cell natural rubber, it absorbs a lot of moisture and helps maintain traction in sweaty situations. 99 percent latex free, it is built with reinforced scrim which resists tearing or stretching. However it does give off a rubber smell when it is new. Go for the thinner, lighter travel option, the JadeYoga Voyager, if you want a protective covering over the studio mat. You can also consider the Jade Travel Mat which offers more protection at 3mm but it is slightly more expensive than the Voyager.  

Gaiam Performance Dry-Grip Yoga Mat
1.93kg
5mm thickness
US$69.98 (S$94)
Available from giaim.com

PVC mats are generally more affordable. This relatively light mat made of PVC offers adequate cushioning providing firm and comfortable support for the joints. Created with a topcoat that wicks away moisture, it gives better traction and grip even in a hot class. Not as eco-friendly but it is manufactured free of the top six most harmful phthalates. Comes with a lifetime guarantee as well. Giaim also offers a range of affordable eco-friendly mats made of jute and cork with many designs to choose from.

Our Studio Mat

MADANA Pro Yogi Jute Yoga Mat
2.8kg
5mm thickness
S$149
Available from madanayoga.com

The mats we use at our studio are eco-friendly, free from toxic chemicals and made of 100% biodegradable natural rubber and jute. Thus it is recommended to lay your own yoga mat on top if you are allergic to latex. It is a reversible yoga mat where you can use either side to your preference. MADANA is a home-grown yoga brand from Singapore.

There are other cheaper options on the market but investing in a good quality mat will help you to enjoy your practice more and prevent possible injuries. Apart from hygiene reasons, the mat also represents your commitment to yourself and your own wellbeing. Happy Shopping!

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