I have been practicing yoga since well before it became mainstream and consider myself somewhat of an expert. In addition to practicing yoga for nearly 2 decades, I have also been teaching internationally for over 10 years. My love for yoga has been a very long, and deep affair.
Throughout my yoga history I have seen yoga go from something that only hippies did to something that is practiced by people from all walks of life. There are now endless styles of yoga and numerous yoga props. Plus, most big cities have studios popping up at every corner. I have also seen a huge growth in the yoga industry in terms of manufacturing companies. Today, you can buy everything from yoga socks to yoga street wear. Then there is the issue of yoga mats, which, in my opinion, is the MOST important aspect in any practice – other than the teacher.
There are so many companies that manufacture yoga mats today. All mats vary in quality, thickness, material, and style. There is even a large gap in price range. Prices vary so much that many people find the art of shopping for the perfect yoga mat quite overwhelming.
Many of my students ask me which yoga mat to buy, or what company makes the best yoga mat. So I decided to test out a few of the best yoga mats on the market to see for myself. For me, there are a few things to consider when I decide on the perfect mat. These include the thickness, grip, and feel of the mat. Also, how slippery it gets when sweating up a storm. I narrowed my search down to three top quality mats.
Manduka is a name that is known in many parts of the world. In fact, I have seen these mats being sold at yoga centers and shops as far away as Thailand and Singapore. An architect turned yogi designed the original Manduka yoga mat in 1997. The mat was such a great success that his company grew to become one of the best yoga mat manufacturers around.
The Manduka PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat is one of their most popular mats. This is not hard to see why. First, it is completely nontoxic, which means that the minute you start using it you won’t have a terrible plastic-like smell. Second, it is designed to grip the floor. This means that you don’t have to worry about it slipping in the middle of your practice.
One of the things that I liked best about this mat is its thickness. I always prefer to do yoga on a mat that is at least 5mm thick and this mat is 6mm! I am quite slender, so I find that thinner mats are a bit hard on my bones. So I loved that this mat was thick enough to make me feel cushioned. I also loved the feel of it under my hands and feet. It was nice to use. The material was not slippery from the first moment I used it. Overall, I would say that this is an excellent yoga mat, and well worth the price. The only con is that I couldn’t use it as a travelling mat because it is a bit on the heavy side.
Liforme is newer on the yoga scene, but the name is quite well known around the globe. Especially for studios that focus on alignment. That is one of the good things about the ORIGINAL Liforme Yoga Mat, it actually has lines right on the mat to help you with your alignment. But, I also see this as a con. It may, in some cases, make you look like you are properly aligned when in fact you aren’t. In my opinion, feeling your body and feeling that it is aligned is more important than seeing that you are aligned. Lines can be positive when teaching an alignment based or beginner class. But I feel that the more you practice and are in-tune with your body, the less effective lines become.
There is also a big plus to this yoga mat; it is made from eco-friendly materials. This is not only important in terms of yoga mats, but in everyday life. I think the fact that Liforme promotes this and the environment is a great reason to promote the company. Another great thing is that this mat comes with a yoga mat bag, making it convenient to carry around.
As far as other things that I find important when choosing a yoga mat, this mat was a bit too thin for me. Especially when I was doing back bending asanas, laying stomach down on the mat. As I got deeper into the asanas it aggravated my hip bones. I guess if I was not so boney this would not be an issue.
Clever Yoga is newer on the scene, having only started in 2014. I had actually never heard of them until I started to research the best yoga mats on the market today. And I am glad that I found them. This eco-friendly company uses non-toxic materials, which means they are completely safe and odor free. They are also easy to clean. Another pro of this mat is that it is slip-free, which is very important once you start to build up a sweat.
This mat is great for taller yogis, as it is extra-long and extra wide. For me this didn’t matter, as I am quite short and have a small build. This also meant that the 4.5mm thickness was just too thin for me and my bones. All-in-all it was comfortable, until I did my backbends. The thickness of it (or rather thinness) also affected my arm balances. There was not enough padding under my wrists. I corrected this by folding it over.
A pro of the Clever Yoga LiquidBalance Yoga Mat is that it comes with a carry bag and a strap. Plus, I really liked the mandala on it. Of the three, it is the most appealing yoga mat to look at, but this is not important when actually doing yoga.
My favorite of the three yoga mast was the Manduka PRO Yoga and Pilates Mat, predominately because of the thickness. If I were not so boney I would probably opt for the Clever Yoga LiquidBalance Yoga Mat because I like the feel of it and the look of it. I was not a huge fan of the ORIGINAL Liforme Yoga Mat. I found the alignment lines a bit distracting. Otherwise it is a pretty good mat.
Buying a high-quality yoga mat is always a good idea. It will last a lot longer, feel better under your hands and feet, and provide for an overall better yoga practice.