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Whether you’re new to yoga or just ready to retire the crappy mat you “borrowed” from your gym, having the best yoga mat will give your practice a boost. Your mat is your safe harbor—the little plot of land that’s all yours—no matter what happened in your day prior to getting yourself to yoga. Once your feet and hands are planted firmly on that sticky, squishy rubber, all you’ve got to do is “follow your breath”—that’s yoga speak for chill out and move a little—and you’re more or less guaranteed to walk out 60 minutes later feeling at least somewhat rejuvenated and at peace.

Most yoga teachers will literally bend over backwards to accommodate “all skill levels,” but even the friendliest of studios can rival motorcycle-gang bars for intimidation levels. You’ve got the tatted-up, man-bunned dude popping handstands and pretzeling his limbs together, the teacher nonchalantly dropping sanskrit pose names like parivrtta baddha ardha chandrasana between prayer hands and head bows, the self-appointed know-it-all critiquing their neighbor’s form mid-down-dog. And there you are, taking it all in from the comfort of your rental mat, the middle-school-locker-room musk of which somehow overpowers all the burning sage and incense all around you. While it can be a bit overwhelming to stay present amidst this sweaty, athleisure-clad chaos, a modest investment in a good yoga mat can make all the difference.

There are as many mats out there as there are classes, so it can be an equal challenge to find the one that’s right for you. In a quest for the perfect floor companion, we vinyasa-ed on all shapes and sizes, comparing textures, sweat-wicking capabilities, weight, stickiness, and thickness to determine the best yoga mats for every kind of yogi, from the first-timer to the Level-3 veteran.


The Best All-Around Yoga Mat

Jade Harmony yoga mat

Jade’s Harmony mat strikes the perfect balance between grip, support, and sweat absorption. There are plenty of really thick, squishy mats out there that your hands and feet sink into when you press down, and while they may be comfy for savasana at the end of class, they can actually cause problems for your joints. The natural rubber provides a solid base, but has enough springiness and resistance to keep your wrists and ankles safe. Jade manufactures all of their mats in the U.S. and has vowed to plant a tree for every mat purchased (they’ve planted upwards of 1.5 million trees to date). With a variety of lengths and colors, you’ve got lots of options to choose from.

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The Cadillac of Yoga Mats

Manduka Pro mat

Now you may be thinking, why would I spend more money on my yoga mat than the 5-class pack at my studio? But I’m here to tell you that the Manduka Pro will last you a lifetime—literally. It’s the preferred mat of many veteran yogis with superior stick and thickness, and when you feel it starting to lose its grip, just give it a little salt scrub, and it will be almost as good as new. If that’s still not enough for you, it has a lifetime guarantee so you can trade it in for a new one if it wears out from normal yoga use over time. One warning: it’s heavy (over 7 pounds), so if you’re planning on toting this bad boy very far to your studio and want to travel lighter, you should also check out the Prolite.

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The Best Yoga Mat for Tall Dudes

Lululemon Reversible (Big) Mat

Yes, holding downward-facing dog for 10 breaths is challenging, even for practiced yogis, but a downward-facing dog on a mat that is too small is even more challenging. Luckily, Lululemon makes this extra-long, extra-wide version of their Reversible Mat that’s perfect for tall guys. With a full seven feet of real estate (most yoga mats clock in around six), you can spread those limbs out quite comfortably without worrying about kicking your neighbors in the face on your next vinyasa. It’s also reversible, allowing you to choose between a firm, grippy base on one side or a more absorbent, springier base on the other. If it’s good enough for an NBA Finals MVP, it’s good enough for you.

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The Best Yoga Mat for Hot Yoga

Manduka GRP Mat

Whether you’re into Bikram, Baptiste, hip-hop yoga, or you just sweat a lot, it can be difficult to find a mat that gives you enough support without feeling like your hands might slip out from under you at any moment. Laying a sweat towel on top of your mat can sometimes do the trick, but can also be a hassle to fumble with throughout your practice. If this sounds like you, check out Manduka’s extra absorbent GRP Mat which is specifically designed for hot classes. Infused with charcoal, the pebbled, basketball-like texture provides tremendous traction, even when it’s a little damp.

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The Best Thick Yoga Mat

Jade Yoga Fusion mat

Even some of the softest, squishiest yoga mats can be a bit harsh on your joints and bones over time. Sometimes you’ll hear teachers say you can fold your mat over for extra padding under your knees, but this mat is already almost twice as thick as Jade’s Harmony mat so no folding required!

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The Best Travel Yoga Mat

Manduka Pro travel mat

Manduka has always had superlite options in its eKO series, but they’ve just released a new travel mat under the Pro series as well. Well under 3 pounds, the Pro travel gives you the same high quality you’d find in the Pro and Prolite (as well as that guarantee for life) in a sleeker, easy-to-fold size. It can fold up perfectly to fit at the bottom of a standard carry-on bag so you can take your practice on the road; it’s thin, but firm enough to use on top of a hotel room carpet or a hotel gym floor.

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The Best Budget Yoga Mat

BalanceFrom GoYoga Yoga Mat

If you’re not all in on yoga just yet, you probably don’t want to drop $80-100 on a fancy mat that you might only use twice. This $15 investment should do the trick. Better yet, you don’t even have to do yoga on it! This mat is great for a post-workout stretch, a 15-minute at-home meditation, or some Sunday afternoon roof sun bathing. And who doesn’t love a complimentary carrying strap?

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The Best Yoga Mat for Commuters

Jade Voyager yoga mat

You don’t want to be that guy on the subway during rush hour, hurrying to make your evening class while your mat is sticking awkwardly out of your bag primed to get stuck in the closing doors or the turnstile or knock over a small child. For those on the go, Jade’s ultra-light, ultra-thin, foldable Voyager Mat is perfectly portable. Weighing only a pound and a half, it folds up to about the size of a yoga block, and easily fits inside totes, backpacks, and gym bags. It’s only 1/16” thick, so if you need a little more support, just throw it on top of a rental mat from the studio and you’ll still get premium grip without the germs or the fuss of a sweat towel.

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More Yoga Mats, Yoga Rugs, Yoga Towels, and Yoga Blocks We Like

Gaiam Cork Yoga Mat

Cork yoga blocks are pretty common in most studios, so why not try a mat to match?

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BalanceFrom GoYoga All-Purpose Exercise Mat

Who said you have to do yoga on these things? These pilates mats are also great for an at-home stretch session or core work.

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TOPLUS yoga mat

If you’re just starting out, or if you’re just a visual learner, this mat features lines and marks to help you focus in on alignment in every pose.

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Jade Yoga cotton mysore rug

Sure,  a little hippy-dippy, but look at those pretty colors.

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Manduka eQua mat towel

If you’re into hot yoga, or just perspire a lot, a good sweat towel may be a necessity and Manduka’s eQua version is soft like suede. Just make sure to give it a spritz of water before class to unlock the grip and you’ll no longer be slip-sliding through all those chaturangas.

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Lululemon “Loop It Up” carrying strap with eyelet

Unfortunately, as elegant as a slowly unfurled yoga mat can be, we have not yet engineered a very elegant way to carry them. But this mat strap is pretty close to something like elegance. What sets it apart is the extra eyelet loop so you can clip your keys or water bottle while you’re on the go.

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Manduka AligN yoga strap

Great for a simple stretch and many restorative poses, you can reach even more zen with a strap doing some of the work for you.

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Jade Yoga cork block

When a teacher tells you to grab a block it’s not a slight against your immense yogic powers. Blocks are simply there to help you unlock a deeper, more supported expression of a pose. Cork blocks hit a good balance of give and firmness that is not found in those soft, ratty foam ones at your gym. And, maybe most importantly, they look a hell of a lot cooler.

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El Paso Designs yoga blanket

A good yoga blanket is great for your at-home practice and your home decor.

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Article written by Ben Pardee #GQ

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