Visit my office and you’ll notice that one corner of it is overflowing with a rainbow of yoga mats. I love yoga mats—especially ones with textured, rough surfaces that offer no-slip protection in the sweatiest of classes. But, unfortunately, not all mats are created equal. After bending and moving on dozens of mats over the years, here are my top five picks that I go back to on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis.
-Ali Carr Troxell
1. Jade Saffron Yoga Mat
The most textured one here, Jade's 3/16” yoga mats ($70) hit the sweet spot between grip, cushion, and quality. It’s a weighty mat that makes a thud when it hits the studio floor, assuring you won’t wear it out any time soon. That also means it’s not the best option if you like to travel with your mat. The heavily textured surface does take a little bit to break in—it can be a little rough at first. It rubbed at certain areas of my feet in ways other mats never have. But once there, it retained the best grip in the sweatiest classes. If "environmentally friendly" is one of your boxes, Jade uses natural rubber and no PVCs. Bonus: the saffron-colored mat donates $5 of every purchase to promote autism awareness, education, and research.
2. Prana Henna E.C.O. Mat
Another philanthropic mat, the pink version of Prana’s Henna E.C.O Mat ($50), With each purchase of this mat, 10% of its sales will go to the Keep a Breast Foundation. This five millimeter pad was thick on the studio floor, cushioning better than any other mat here. But, we found it slippery the first few times we used it (it’s pretty smooth on its face) and would’ve liked a little more texture. Over time, though, the Henna E.C.O. Mat—made from thermal plastic elastomer—will break in and become a great addition to your quiver.
3. The Lululemon Unmat
As someone who likes to bring her yoga mat on every trip for some hotel-room sessions, The Unmat ($48) is the perfect answer. It’s a fifth of the thickness of a standard studio mat, but it’s very grippy (with two different levels of texture on each side). It won’t sit stashed away when you’re not traveling, though: It’s a nice second layer on top of your regular mat for extra absorption in heated classes.
4. PurEarth 2 Eco Mat Ultimate 3mm
The PurEarth 2 Eco Mat Ultimate 3mm’s ($40) medium thickness makes it a very versatile mat for a regular studio practice as well as a potential travel mat. Twice as thick as Lululemon’s The Unmat, it weighs more, but still folds up small enough to squeeze into a carry-on (although it does take up a quarter of the space) and gives you better cushioning on your hotel room floor. The Eco Mat Ultimate also has double-sided traction with two levels of grip—both were incredibly effective. And it’s made from non-toxic chemicals. Of all of the mats here, this was my favorite because it combines cushioning with traction and compactness.
5. Magic Carpet Yoga Mats
When I first saw a post about these mats on Facebook, I was instantly intrigued. The Magic Carpet Yoga Mats ($85) are stunningly beautiful. That’s thanks to Northern California artist Sophie Leininger, who studied rug and textile design. Her latest project involves hand-painting designs that she then prints on traditional yoga mats. While these aren’t the most technologically advanced mats—they’re similar to what you’ll find for rent in most studios—they are non-toxic. Head to the artist’s website to check out all the designs. They'll make you want to create shapes with your body equally as stunning.
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