FITNESS

Best Yoga Mat for Beginners: Finding Your Zen

Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Yoga is an ancient practice of finding the balance between mind, body and soul. A great way to add calmness though the power of movement into everyday life, yoga is a practice you can do from just about anywhere.

Whether you practice at home, in the park, atop a paddleboard or prefer a guided class, having a yoga mat is a great way to give you a defined space of solitude in our cluttered world. Especially when starting out, is important to get the best yoga mat for beginners as it will allow you the safety and comfort to find your way in this deeply beneficial practice.

Why use a yoga mat?

It takes about one yoga session to understand the tremendous benefits that come with this meditative movement. A yoga mat will provide the traction and padding you need to be successful. When practicing yoga, you will at times find that the ground is uneven or hard.

Yoga mats bundled

A thick mat will help ensure that you stay comfortable.  It will also provide traction so that you will not have to worry about slipping around in vulnerable poses.

Yoga mats carry a lightweight design making them easily transportable to be taken with you bringing your practice wherever you go. Protecting you from a cold and hard ground, a yoga mat will provide you added comfort for your routine. When choosing a yoga mat for your new routine, there are a couple key features we recommend looking for.

Benefits of practicing yoga

Yoga comes with so many benefits for the mind, the body and the soul. For the body, it works through movement aligning your spine and your body how it is meant. Yoga is a slow moving practice in which you hold poses for extended periods of time.

Having a mat with anti-slip technology will allow you to be more stable and hold your pose with ease. This will allow you to fall deeper into poses, provide a deeper stretch of your body, and elongate your spine as you go. For your mind, yoga relieves stress and provides a meditative release connecting your body with your mood.

Benefits of yoga

Having a calming environment is key and when using a soft yoga mat, it provides you with the comfort to focus solely on your routine. For your soul, yoga is rejuvenative. Combining the powers of a healthy body and healthy mind this practice will leave you feeling more connected with yourself and lead to a more peaceful life.

Material

Yoga mats come in varying styles and materials.  Material plays a part in how the mat feels, how heavy it is and how durable it is.

Renewable material

This is the best material for eco-friendly people. Latex is classified as a renewable, natural rubber that can be made into a yoga mat. However, we do not recommend this as people may have sensitivities or allergies to this material. Jute, organic bamboo, and hemp are just a few of the many materials that do not put a strain on the environment.

Rubber

A material that can be made out of many things, rubber is common in the construction of yoga mats. Rubber is one of the materials that can be eco-friendly. Look for mats that are sourced from non-amazon rubber trees or recycled car tires.

Yoga mat materials

These are the most eco-friendly materials and use products that would otherwise end up in landfills. Don’t worry about skin contact with these materials as they have been treated and are completely safe.

PVC

Most mats are made out of this material. PVC is highly durable, lasting upwards of a decade. This is a soft material that will give your body padding to lay down and be comfortable. PVC is a sticky material but only when clean.

You will have to put in some time to make sure this mat stays dry and clean, otherwise you may be sliding around. Also, eco-conscious people should stay clear of mats made of PVC. It is extremely hard to break down and will sit in landfills for years when thrown away.

How to clean

Yoga, especially hot yoga, will cause you to perspire. A mat will need to be cleaned regularly to ensure there is no bacteria growing on it. Also, some materials may loose their grip when they get dirty. Look for a mat with closed cell surface as it will not absorb and moisture and ensure your mat is easy to c

There are many different ways to clean your mat. We recommend using a hot towel to wipe down your mat. This will ensure it is clean while preserving its life. Machine washing a mat can break down the materials quicker than hand washing.

Cleaning a yoga mat

If you feel so inclined, you can go a step further. Grab your favorite essential oil, dilute it with water and give your mat a gentle spray. This will give it a nice scent and add to your meditative routine. A chemical free way to clean your mat is to add a teaspoon of baking soda to the mix and wipe it down with your hot towel.

Texture

The layer directly between your body and the mat can have a different feel. This will determine the level of grip and comfort of your mat.

Non-slip

Being able to do the downward dog pose without having to worry about sliding around the floor will put your mind at ease. Some materials are more slipperier than others,  such as PVC. A textured layer will combat this. Yoga mats come in all different textures ranging from a sleek smooth feel to a sandpapery rough surface.

What you get is completely based on your personal preference. We recommend shopping around and feeling the texture of a mat before you buy it.

Dimensions

The size of your yoga mat can vary. A taller person will need a mat that is longer and wider than their shorter friends. The thickness plays a role in your comfort and connection with the floor.

Thickness

This is the most important aspect of a yoga mat. The thickness of a mat is measured in millimeters (mm) and typically ranges between 3mm-8mm. This provides cushioning for your joints and makes your routine more safe and comfortable.

Yoga mats with scribe

A typical mat is ⅛” thick (3.2 mm) and can range to ¼” (6.4 mm). Travel mats can be found which are 1/16” thick (1.6 mm) and is ideal for fitting easily into a suitcase. We recommend getting a comfortable ¼“ thick mat. This is a good tradeoff and will allow you to perform all of the basic poses and grow into the more advanced ones.

Yet there is a trade-off. A thicker mat will create a less stable base which can make it harder to do some advanced one-footed poses. These mats are generally used for slower, more therapeutic yoga. We recommend beginners start with a ⅛” (3.2 mm) mat. This offers good cushion while allowing you to try your hand at all of the yoga poses.

Length

A mat should fit your body size. A standard mat will be around 68” long. This is an ideal length for a person who stands up to 5’10”. If you are taller look for a mat in the 72” or upward range. This will give you the space to stretch out and get comfortable in your poses.

Width

A typical yoga mat will be in the 30” range. The wider a mat is the more space you have to work with on the floor. You do not want your hands or knees on a hard floor as it will take away from your meditative experience and create bad form.

Weight

Yoga mats should be lightweight so that they can be ultra portable. This allows you to throw them in your car and forget about them, until you need it. A typical mat will weigh anywhere from 4-8 pounds. This will vary based on the material used to create them and the thickness of the mat.

Weight of yoga mats

We have done the research to find the best yoga mats on the market. We found many but here is our compiled list of the top yoga mats for beginners.

Beginner Yoga Mats Rundown

Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Mat

Hugger Mugger Para Rubber MatMeasurements: 24” x 70”

Weight: 6 lbs

Thickness: 6.35 mm

Materials: Natural rubber

Specific Features: Non-slip, easy to clean, made using natural renewable materials

Made out of sustainable material, this non-slip, high quality yoga mat is an excellent choice for eco conscious people. This mat is a quarter-inch thick which will keep you comfortable while giving you enough grip and stability to achieve any pose.

Don’t worry about durability as the latex material is designed to be last for years to come. Cleaning this mat is exceptionally easy just involving a warm towel wipe down. It is not recommended to machine wash this mat because of the materials used to create it. No matter what you use it for this yoga mat will exceed your expectations.

Check the price on Amazon

prAna Revolution Mat

prAna Revolution MatMeasurements: 78” x 30”

Weight: 7 lbs

Thickness: 4 mm

Materials: Biodegradable tree rubber

Specific Features: Excellent grip, unique color, eco friendly

The prAna Revolution Mat is composed of three layers of natural rubber creating a firm but comfortable workout mat. The large surface area gives you ample room to move around and get comfortable and is perfect for people around the six foot height range.

Without compromising on being lightweight, this mat design is thick and large giving you lots of space to expand your practice even farther. Being made out of non-amazon harvested biodegradable tree rubber, this mat is exceptionally eco friendly. You do not have to worry where and how it was made and can be proud of your yoga mat.

Check the price on Amazon

       

Kharma Khare Hybrid Bliss Non Slip Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat

Kharma Khare Hybrid Yoga MatMeasurements: 72” x 24”

Weight: 8 lbs

Thickness: 5 mm

Materials: Repurposed recycled car tires, natural rubber latex

Specific Features: Non-slip, double sided, no break in period, natural materials

Having an extra grippy side to this mat creates two mats in one. For less extreme poses use the natural rubber latex and flip it over for exercises where you need extra grip. The Kharma Khare Hybrid Bliss yoga mat is made with 100% eco friendly materials such as recycled car tires and natural, renewable tree rubber.

This makes it exceptionally durable and sticky. You do not need to use a towel, like some other mats, even during hot yoga.

Check the price on Amazon

prAna E.C.O. Yoga Mat

prAna E.C.O. Yoga MatMeasurements: 24” x 4”

Weight: 2.4 lbs

Thickness: 5 mm

Materials: Thermoplastic Elastomer

Specific Features: Non-slip, UV resistant, soft design

This is atwo-sided non-slip mat that is great no matter what level you are at. Seamlessly transfer into any position as this mat has the cushioning you need to keep you safe as well as the non stick design to keep you from slipping.

With closed cell construction this mat is guaranteed to not let sweat or dirt penetrate into it allowing it to last you longer. Being UV resistant means that you are free to bring this mat to the beach or park with you for some outdoor yoga and the mat will not fade or peel.

An incredibly health conscious decision, this mat is made using a completely toxic free manufacturing process and its latex free design makes it a great option for those with allergies. This mat boasts an incredibly soft design making you comfortable to stay on longer. It also translates well to being a meditation mat.

Check the price on Amazon

Gaiam Print Premium Yoga Mats

Gaiam Print Premium Yoga MatsMeasurements: 68” X 24” standard. 78” X 26” long

Weight: 3.2 lbs

Thickness: 5mm

Materials: PVC

Specific Features: Free yoga workout download, many unique designs, non-slip

Yoga is just as much about the mind as it is the body. With over 25 years in the business Gaiam understands that, that’s why they produce high quality mats that protect your body while using very calming and serene colors and designs to get you in the right frame of mind. Great for beginners, this mat comes with a free yoga workout download to give you the tools you need to get started.

This is an incredibly durable mat that provides excellent cushioning to keep your joints safe. Its 5mm thickness stands out leaving you comfortable and not feeling the cold hard floor under you. With non slip technology, you are free to take your yoga routine as far as it will go without worry.

Check the price on Amazon

Manduka PROLite Yoga Mat

Manduka PROLite Yoga MatMeasurements: 71” X 24” standard. 79” X 24” long

Weight:  4 lbs standard. 4.5 lbs long

Thickness: 4.7 mm thick standard and long

Materials: PVC

Specific Features: Easy to clean, lifetime guarantee, lightweight

Show your personality with this mat by picking one of their 16 different color choices. It also comes in two different lengths, allowing people of any height to find a mat they’re comfortable on. Having a closed cell surface means that no sweat or dirt will penetrate the mat, making it last longer.

As a bonus, it is easy to clean and is fast drying which makes use in warmer climates all the better.  The Manduka PROLite Yoga Mat comes with a lifetime guarantee, so you will never face another peeled, flaked or faded mat again. Great for those with allergies or are generally health conscious, as this mat contains no latex and has a 100% emissions-free manufacturing process.

The underside contains a dot pattern unique to Manduka to keep the underside of the mat from slipping around. This mat is great on surfaces beyond a smooth yoga room. Try it on asphalt or pack it to a sandy beach and watch as it continues to perform expertly. With a newer and improved lightweight design, this mat is incredibly portable and easy to carry.

Check the price on Amazon

Final Thoughts

Yoga is a practice of harmonizing the mind, body and soul to a state of serenity and peace. Through stretches and movement you help to align your body and clear your mind. Having a yoga practice for your routine will provide a comfortable surface for which you to practice your routine.

It also provides you with the versatility to bring your yoga practice with you wherever you go making a space that is uniquely yours and comfortable. Thick yoga mats, typically around 5 mm, provide needed support for your joints when doing poses.

Constellation print yoga mat

Non slip technology makes it so that you can hold poses longer as well as transfer between them safely and without risk of falling. Having a high quality yoga mat will provide you with peace of mind and the tools you need to take your yoga routine the extra mile.

Do you practice yoga regularly? Have a yoga mat on our list? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Janet Wilder

    I have a Gaiam mat which, at 5mm is a bit thicker than the 1/8 inch middle ground that you mentioned above. But that works well for me because I use it to do yoga outside, the extra thickness helping to absorb some of the awkward bumps and grooves in the ground in a way that thinner mats can not. The combination of a thicker mat and earth makes for a surface that isn’t the most stable, but as long as you’re not attempting anything too advanced you should have a very enjoyable time. I loving doing yoga outdoors!

  • Mark Foster

    Hi Janet and thanks for sharing your experience with us. Most of my friends also love to do yoga outside where there’s fresh air and the birds are just chirping along. I think having an excellent yoga mat makes the experience more enjoyable. My girlfriend loves those non-slip mats and she goes for the biodegradable tree rubber material. Enjoy yoga! 🙂

  • Liz Edwards

    I have always used the Prana Revolution mat and I think it is perfect. Just like what you have mentioned, the mat is thick and large so I have a lot of space to practice. I also love that it is eco-friendly. It is lightweight yes, but actually, it is heavier than most mats today, which I think is nice because it does not slide around on the floor.

  • Mark Foster

    Lighter does not always mean better. Having some weight to a yoga mat can be helpful when it comes to your comfort. The padding can make it easier on your back so that you don’t feel discomfort while trying to center yourself. The Prana Revolution is a great choice and we agree that the thickness sets it apart.

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