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Yoga is an amazing form of exercise for a ton of reasons: it encourages a mind-body connection, it’s low-impact and easy on your joints, and it can be scaled up or down to any fitness level. (This is probably why so many celebs, from Jennifer Aniston to Zoe Saldana to Britney Spears, love practicing yoga). Another great thing about yoga? You really don’t need any equipment. Except, of course, a mat. And you do need a great mat.
Choosing a yoga mat to buy is no small task. So we asked yoga teachers and casual yogis alike to test 15 of the most popular mats on the market in our Lab for the day to see which ones were comfy, portable, stood up well to sweaty flows, and rolled and unrolled without much fuss. The clear winner was Lululemon’s The (Big) Mat.
These are the best yoga mats that we PEOPLE Tested.
Best Overall: Lululemon The (Big) Mat
Note: We tested an older model of this mat, but this newer version is nearly identical.
Pros: This soft and cushy mat is great for tall people and has an excellent grip even in sweaty flows.
Cons: It may be too heavy to carry to class and has a bit of an off-gassing smell.
We found this mat was really made with yogis in mind. For one thing, it’s dual-sided — there is a printed side that is, according to our tester, “slightly sticky,” and a textured matte black side — so it can handle nearly any type of practice or preference. At 5mm thick, it feels supportive and soft.
In testing, the impressive grip on the patterned side helped prevent losing balance or toppling when moving between poses. The grip holds up even with sweaty hands and feet, so it’s a great choice for hot yoga. We also noticed it’s very absorbent; beads of water or sweat that drip onto it are quickly soaked up, which helps it maintain its excellent grip. It lays nice and flat on first use, too.
Our tester also noted the impressive length— for someone who is 6-ft., finding yoga mats that are long enough can be a challenge, and this one left plenty of room to spread out in warrior poses and even lie flat on it and still have space to move comfortably.
Downsides: The mat measured 7.6 pounds and was resistant to rolling back up on its first few uses, so it’s a bit difficult to carry around with you— it’s better suited to home use. There’s a slight chemical smell when you first open it that does fade over time, but it is annoying, and our tester notes the smell was more noticeable on the black side than the printed side. It is expensive, but our tester felt it was worth the price. Lastly, the black side isn’t quite as grippy as the print side and is more prone to showing marks.
Bottom line? If you’re an avid yogi, you won’t regret spending the extra money on this high-quality mat.
Credit: People/Tara Donne
Best Budget: BalanceFrom GoYoga All-Purpose Yoga Mat
Pros: For those looking to tote a mat to class, this comes with a carrier and is thick.
Cons: It didn’t lay flat at first and squeaked through some moves
If you want one exercise mat that can do it all, this is a great choice. Our tester notes that the extra cushioning (it’s 12.9mm thick!) makes it suitable for yoga as well as higher-impact exercises like HIIT training. It’s also extremely light for how thick it is, clocking in at only two pounds. The light weight plus the included carrying strap — which fits super tightly — makes storing and carrying this mat a cinch. You can easily bring it along to class.
It stood up well to our sweaty practice, even with the extra padding. And our 5-ft.-7-in. tester had plenty of room for her yoga flow. Some of the other mats we tested had chemical-y smells when we first opened them, but this one did not.
The thickness does make it hard to roll this mat out at first— expect some curling along the edges. And we found that when moving between poses you may hear some squeaking sounds from the mat, which might annoy you. Lastly, while we thought the soft, cushy surface was great, 12.9mm might just be too thick for those who prefer a thin yoga mat.
So while this mat may have some drawbacks, its softness, portability, and versatility make it a great choice, especially for the price.
Credit: People/Tara Donne
Best Design: Sugarmat Printed Yoga Mat
Pros: A stylish look and excellent grip made this feel unique and special.
Cons: For people who do deeper poses this mat might be a little too thin.
When you’re staring at your yoga mat in an extended downward-facing dog, you want something pretty to look at, and this mat delivers. Our tester loved the design and colors, which are “super unique and beautiful.” It also held its grip extremely well—even with sweaty hands, we didn’t slip thanks to the soft, textured surface.
It laid flat immediately and “beautifully,” without the unpleasant chemical smell that some of the mats we tried emitted. At 67.5 inches long, it was a bit shorter than some of the other mats, but still left plenty of room for our tester to flow.
This mat is 4mm thick, which may be too thin if you tend to practice on hardwood or concrete gym flooring. (For this reason, we also might not recommend it for higher-intensity exercises where you want a little more cushion underneath you.) But if you do your flows on a carpeted or softer gym floor, and you only use it for yoga, the thickness should be fine. One other minor downside? At 4.6 pounds, it isn’t heavy as far as yoga mats go, but it isn’t light, either, so you might find it a bit cumbersome to carry to and from the studio— or you might not!
Overall, the mat is “amazing” and “worth the splurge” if you’re a regular yogi, according to our tester.
Credit: People/Tara Donne
Best for Beginners: Liforme Original Yoga Mat
Pros: The alignment markings help with poses as well as the easy grip.
Cons: Bare feet, sweat, and water left stains.
If you’re newer to a yoga practice, this mat is absolutely the pick for you. The mat is emblazoned with alignment cues that offer guiding marks, like roughly where to put your hands and feet in downward dog, and where your midline is. Our tester says the markings were extremely helpful reminders— “the 45 degree markings helped my hip alignment in Warrior 1, and the center line helped me align the inside edge of my back foot to the heel of my front foot in Warrior 2.”
It’s also very comfortable and impressively grippy— even with a tested worked up a pretty serious sweat, it was not slippery at all, and the grip was equally good whether the mat was dry or wet. Moisture gets absorbed very quickly, but that said, the damp spots do leave marks, which darkened the top of the mat in our tests. Bare feet also left stains.
To make space for all the markings, this mat is 72 inches long and 26.4 inches wide, so our tester notes that if you’re in an especially crowded yoga studio it might be tough to fit this mat in an allotted space. It comes with a zippered carrying bag, which is a nice perk, but at 4.6 pounds you might not want to carry it around too often.
In the end, the biggest downside is the cost. But the alignment markings alone are such a unique and helpful feature that, while the mat is one of the most expensive ones we tried, the markings may make it a worthy investment for a beginner.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Yoga Mat
If you’re a tall person make sure your mat can accommodate the stretched-out poses yoga entails, including lying flat on your back in savasana. Most mats we tested hovered just under six feet long, though there are a few (including our winner) in the 80″+ range for length.
If you have sensitive knees or wrists, definitely look for a thicker mat. Five millimeters and up will feel cushion-y, less will feel more of the floor underneath.
We tested mats from $20 up to $155. The less expensive mats are usually foam-based, may give off more of a rubbery smell, and may wear out more quickly. Pricier mats tend to be heavier to carry.
Do you lug your yoga mat back and forth to class, or do you mostly practice at home? Heavier mats will be better suited for home use, but with a good carrying strap you can make them work on the go as well.
If you’re someone who sweats a lot, or you like to practice hot yoga, you need good grip strength from your mat. If you do more gentle or restorative flows, you can get away with a less grippy mat.
How We Tested Yoga Mats
We PEOPLE Tested 15 yoga mats with a team that included certified yoga teachers and more casual yogis. We assessed each mat on how well it unrolled, whether it smelled on first use, its padding and thickness, its grip and feel, how easy it was to carry and store, and its overall value. From there, each tester unrolled their mat, did a short yoga flow twice through (once with dry hands and feet and once with their hands and feet sprayed with water), and cleaned and stored the mat. Then we narrowed down what performed the best!
What Is PEOPLE Tested?
We created the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval to help you find the very best products for your life. We use our unique methodology to test products in three labs across the country and with our network of home testers to determine their effectiveness, durability, ease of use, and so much more. Based on the results, we rate and recommend products so you can find the right one for your needs.
But we don’t stop there: We also regularly re-review the categories in which we’ve awarded the PEOPLE Tested seal of approval — because the best product of today might not be the best of tomorrow. And by the way, companies can never buy our recommendation: Their products must earn it, fair and square.
In short, PEOPLE Tested provides recommendations you can trust — every day, every purchase.