Become a Zen Master by Choosing a Good Yoga Mat

Key Points

  • There are wonderful physical and mental benefits of yoga.

  • Consider the qualities of a good yoga mat before purchasing one.

  • Look into the various brands selling yoga mats and find one that fits you.

  • Clean your yoga mat to ensure its longevity.

  • Try different kinds of yoga with your new yoga mat; you never know which one is best for you.

Ommm, Ommm, Ommm.

The sound ommm contains the whole universe. Uttering this word brings you fully into the present. Perched atop your yoga mat, the ego diminishes, replaced with a profound sense of oneness with other life forms. Such connections with the third eye provide a peak into divinity, yet one thing will surely ruin your Zen: a sore bottom.

Sitting cross-legged on a hard floor isn't easy. That's where a yoga mat comes in. This simple, insulated mat provides the comfort you need to escape modern life's humdrum distractions and bask in the concentrating glories of yoga, meditation, and self-awareness.

Your journey toward Zen mastery begins now.

The Many Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is a practice with several thousand years of history. Ancient people in India practiced yoga beginning 5,000 or so years ago. Not until the 19th century did this practice finally reach the shores of the United States. In 2023, millions of people flock to yoga — not for its dogma or doctrines but for its outstanding mental, physical, and spiritual benefits.

Flexibility and Balance

Yoga keeps your joints limber and maintains your ability to balance even when you're older and slightly more brittle. The range of motions works every part of your body, so you're always spry. The outcome of a lifetime of yoga is the ability to touch your toes in your twilight years. Not many people are able to do that.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

All exercise reduces bottled-up stress and anxiety. Yoga is no exception. It lowers the stress hormone cortisol and releases dopamine: one of the feel-good hormones.

Carrying yoga mat

Modern life promotes a sedentary lifestyle. At work, people stare at computers for 40 hours (or more), go home, then start at a TV or smartphone for a few more.

As a living creature, you need movement to release all the pent-up energy within. There's no better way to do that than yoga.

Strengthens Muscles

A well-developed musculoskeletal system is essential. Genetics has much say in your body's development, but so does how you treat it. If you binge-watch Netflix for years, it will catch up with you eventually.

Yoga develops muscles where you previously didn't have them, and strengthens the ones you do have. Various yoga positions require you to squat, plank, bend, push, pull, and balance. The consequence of which is more robust muscles.

Every muscle matters. Though the fist-sized muscle in your chest cavity is the most important. Yoga improves your cardiovascular health, ensuring Ole Thumper stays beating for decades to come.

Improves Mental Clarity

Hangovers offer slushy thoughts, searing headaches, and maybe even some post-drinking embarrassment. Yoga offers the opposite. It increases mindfulness, quiets distracting thoughts, and promotes inner serenity.

It also boosts levels of self-satisfaction. After a yoga session, it's hard to stay mopey.

Beefs Up Your Immune System

The fact that billions of microorganisms work together to keep you alive is mind-blowing. How do most people repay their efforts? By eating Big Macs. Immune systems worldwide should unionize against such harsh work environments.

What does your immune system want? Yoga. This practice brings oxygenated blood to your organs and stimulates the lymphatic system to expel toxic crud from your body.

Improves Sleep

Catching Zzs is tough for many people. Reflections on the past and ruminations about the future cloud your mind, making sleep difficult. Yoga clears up your noggin, saps your evil thoughts of strength, and gets you primed for a night of beauty rest.

Reduces Inflammation

Chronic inflammation leads to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Reduce inflammation by doing yoga. The movements diminish the production of inflammatory molecules in your body.


Yoga isn't just an exercise — it's also a means to meet other like-minded people.

Yogis are often an open-minded, welcoming community. There's no sense of that tribalistic nonsense seen in politics. Everyone who wants to try yoga is welcome to do so.

There are no barriers to entry.

Doing yoga pose

Differences Between a Yoga and Pilates Mat

Choosing between yoga and Pilates is like deciding between broccoli or kale. They're both good for you, but some people prefer one.

Realistically, the differences are inconsequential. Bringing a Pilates mat to a yoga class isn't going to enrage your fellow yogis. If you're super serious about one of these and plan on sticking with it, get a mat made specifically for it.

Yoga mats are thinner, slightly longer, and broader than Pilates mats, so you have more space for the Warrior II pose. You can work up quite a sweat with yoga, so the mats are stickier, giving you more grip. Lots of people lay a towel over their mat to absorb the sweat.

Pilates mats are thicker and made of foam or rubber. The extra cushion provides support for the more active movements of Pilates.

Test out the waters of yoga before buying a mat. See if you like it first. There's no point in investing in equipment for an activity you don't enjoy. Rent a mat from a yoga studio, or borrow one from a friend or family member.

If yoga dots the i's and crosses the t's of your exercise aspirations, get a mat — just make sure it's a good one.

The Qualities of a Good Yoga Mat

Your preferences matter most. Think about your needs during yoga and purchase a mat that meets them. There are a few factors to consider when buying a yoga mat. Examine them all, come to a decision, and make the purchase. It's not just a mat but an investment in your health.


Yoga mats range from a thin 1/16 inch to a girthy 1/4 inch.

Thicker yoga mats have extra padding, a necessity for people dealing with joint pain. Yoga studios often have hard floors, so get a thicker yoga mat if that's a problem.

Thinner yoga mats are lighter and easier to carry around. They also help ground you. The squishiness of thick yoga mats might throw you off balance.


Yoga mat materials include polyvinyl chloride (PVC), rubber, foam, cork, and jute.

Mass-produced yoga mats typically have PVC, making them a cheap, durable option but certainly not eco-friendly.

Rubber mats provide a good grip and are more eco-friendly but heavier and more expensive.

Foam mats are lightweight and cheap but not as durable.

Jute and cork mats are high-quality, eco-friendly, and provide good grip but they cost a pretty penny.


A yoga mat's texture affects how much grip it provides. More textured mats provide a firmer grip, especially in hot yoga, where you work up a slippery lather.

Yoga mat textures vary from utterly smooth to highly textured. Textured mats have patterns, ridges, or features that create a stronger grip, helping you to maintain footing.

Texture also affects the overall feel and comfort of the mat. Some yogis prefer the smooth, uniform texture, which provides a more even, cushioned feel. Others opt for a textured surface that gives a greater sense of stability.

Downward dog on yoga mat


Get a yoga mat that matches your body size. The size of standard yoga mats works for most people, but you might be an exception.

Average yoga mats are around 68" long and 24" wide.

If you're taller, get a mat that's easier to stretch out on. The more space you have, the better you feel. Longer mats range from 72 to 85 inches. Purchase a wider yoga mat if you want more space to move around.


Yoga mat prices range from under $20 to around $150. Get one within your budget. If you're just starting, rent a mat from a yoga studio before purchasing your own. More expensive yoga mats are higher quality and last longer, though there are plenty of good yoga mats for around $50.


Choose natural materials if you want to reduce your environmental impact. Opt for more eco-friendly materials like natural rubber, jute, and cork.

Yoga Mat Brands

Plenty of brands make yoga mats. None of them are bad. It all comes down to you. Each company adds its own twist to yoga mats.


Manduka is a well-known brand in the yogi world. They offer high-quality mats across a range of materials and thickness levels.

Their ProLite mat is a popular pick and provides sublime cushioning and support. A more eco-friendly choice is their eKO Lite mat, made from natural rubber.

Manduka lives and breathes the yoga lifestyle. Their main product is yoga mats, and they go to great efforts to provide the best possible mats for beginner and veteran yogis alike.

Jade Yoga

Jade Yoga sells mats, gear, props, and accessories like a plant-based wash to clean your mat.

Rubber goes into all their mats and comes from ethical sources. They don't buy rubber from the Amazon region, meaning beautiful rainforest doesn't get razed down to produce your yoga mat. For every mat purchased, Jade Yoga plants a tree.

Their Harmony Professional is non-toxic and provides excellent grip in even the hottest conditions.

It's a company that walks the talk on eco-friendliness and produces excellent products while doing so.

Why don't other companies do the same?


Dashed across every Liforme yoga mat is a series of lines called the AlignForMe System. It's a navigational tool designed to show you where to place your body.

A common pose in yoga is the downward dog. In this position, it's easy to misalign your hands and feet. The AlignForMe system has markings showing where to place your hands and feet during downward dog so you're aligned correctly.

Liforme mats have grippy surfaces that provide stability along with the alignment markers.

Liforme products are pricier, but many yogis praise these yoga mats.

Practicing yoga


With Gaiam, conservation is key:

"Gaiam (pronounced ‘GUY-um’), is a fusion of ‘Gaia’—the name of the Ancient Greek Mother Earth goddess—and ‘I am.’ It means, roughly, ‘I am the Earth’ and is meant to encapsulate a sense of the beautiful interconnectivity of all things. At Gaiam, we believe that by nurturing, protecting, and respecting the Earth and everyone and everything that exists here, we enrich our own lives and those of future generations."

Gaiam cares about the planet, and each product reflects its commitment to preserving the one place all humans call home.

They also care about their customers. Gaiam offers a free yoga mat finder to help you select the perfect one. It's quite straightforward. They ask you what size of yoga mat you need, what thickness you prefer, what material you want, and what style you like. Some algorithm works its magic and bam. It tells you the yoga mat that is right for you.


Lululemon is a famous brand offering a range of athletic apparel. They also sell yoga mats.

Two materials go into the mats: natural rubber and polyurethane. The most popular mat is the Reversible Mat. It doesn't matter which side you place on the ground; it works either way.

They also sell a travel mat. It's foldable, very lightweight, and stores easily in carry-on luggage.

Users discuss Lululemon's mats' performance, durability, and stylish designs.

B Yoga

No advertising compares to celebrity endorsements. The female-founded B Yoga hit the celebrity-endorsement-jack-pot when Megan Markle said she uses their yoga mats.

Markle uses the B Mat Everyday: a high-quality yoga mat catering to every type of yogi. It's made from natural rubber, extremely grippy, and built to last. It comes in various colors like charcoal, deep blue, ocean green, saffron, and deep purple. It's also light, weighing a smidge under four pounds.

Cleaning a Yoga Mat

You just clicked purchase, and in three to five business days, a gorgeous new yoga mat shall be at your front door. Congratulations! It's the first step in your career as a yogi. The most important part about yoga is actually doing the practice. The same as with any other sport, like kayaking.

The runner-up in importance is taking care of your gear. Treat your yoga mat with love to ensure a lifelong yoga practice filled with healthy living. Purchasing your first yoga mat is exciting. Less so is purchasing another one a year late because you used and abused the first one.

Check the Care Instructions

Each company offers advice on cleaning their products. Refer to these care instructions. Some mats may require specific cleaning methods.

Spot Clean Daily

Yoga is a challenge. There's no doubt you're going to work up a sweat. After each session, use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down your mat. You don't have to use any cleaning products. A quick wipe-down with water is fine.

If you want to use some bacteria-slaying cleaners, use one specifically designed for cleaning yoga mats. Don't use harsh chemicals like bleach, which eats away the material of your yoga mat.

Deep Clean Weekly

Create a cleaning solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Spray the solution on both sides of the mat and wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth. Don't submerge the mat in water or scrub it with something abrasive like steel wool.

Rinse the mat thoroughly to remove all the cleaning solution, and let it sit out until it's completely dry.

Avoid Direct Sunlight and Heat

Don't put your mat in the sunlight or leave it in high-heat environments. This causes it to warp and crack. Bring your mat inside if it's triple digits in August, and you just returned from yoga. Don't leave it in the car.

Allow it to air dry in a cool, dry place like your garage.

Meditation on yoga mat

Store Properly

Roll your mat correctly when you're not using it. This makes it easier to carry and protects it from damage. The only time to roll out a yoga mat is when you use it or put it out to dry.

The Different Types of Yoga

You're wielding the perfect yoga mat. It's time to put it to work. Yoga contains various practices, each emphasizing a different aspect of the experience. Don't get caught up in choosing the best one. Try out a few types. Listen to your body. It knows which type of yoga is best suited for you.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha yoga is slow-paced. The focus is on proper alignment and breath control — two of the most important aspects of yoga.

It's a perfect starting platform for beginners, given its relaxed nature.

In Hatha yoga, you breathe and stretch deeply — two seemingly simple but profoundly impactful practices.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa is all about flow, transitioning between postures, and synchronizing your breath with each movement.

This synthesis between breathing and movement makes Vinyasa a moving mediation of sorts. It's more physically demanding than Hatha.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga is hardcore — not bad, just physically demanding.

You follow a sequence of postures, hold each one for a certain number of breaths, then flow into the next posture. It requires strength and stamina. Perhaps you lack both of these. No worries. Do some Ashtanga yoga sessions, and watch your stamina and strength skyrocket.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga fuses Hatha yoga and props.

You use equipment like blocks and straps to achieve correct alignment. It's a beautiful practice for those with injuries or physical limitations. The props are a helping hand, assisting you with each posture while also showing you how much you can do on your own.

With Iyengar, you move slower and hold each pose for longer.

Bikram Yoga

Ever wondered what it's like to shower in your own sweat? There are two ways to find out: Move to a humid location like Georgia, or take a Bikram yoga class.

Studios practicing this hot yoga no longer refer to it as “Bikram,” given the disgraceful actions of the founder. Despite the name change, the practice remains the same.

It's done in a hot studio, usually around 105 degrees, with 40% humidity.

You follow 26 postures and two breathing exercises.

It's very physically demanding and not recommended for people with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or pregnant women.

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal yoga is designed for pregnant women and is open to women in all stages of pregnancy.

It works the pelvic floor, teaches calming breathing techniques, and helps soon-to-be mothers bond with that little bundle of life growing inside them.

In prenatal yoga, you use many props. The focus isn't flexibility but stability to ensure safety for both mother and child.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga combines physicality and spirituality. The focus is on releasing the kundalini energy within your lower spine.

It's fast-moving. You work your core through invigorating postures and breathing exercises. There are often chants, mantras, and meditations in a Kundalini yoga class.

Rolling up yoga mat

Yoga Is Life

As the yoga master Aadil Palkhivala said, "Yoga is not to be performed; it is to be lived. Yoga doesn’t care about what you have been; it cares about the person you are becoming."

Life is about growth. Walk far enough in any direction, and you eventually reach a barrier beyond which lies many mysteries. Some people accept that this is their limit. Others push on and find a way through the barrier.

The act of struggling forward is what allows you to grow. No place better represents that struggle than yoga. It's a challenging practice; even yogis with decades of experience feel resistance swell before they start a session.

A life of yoga is a healthy life, where what matters most isn't who you are or where you've been but the strides you're taking to overcome your barriers.

Become the best version of yourself. Yoga offers you a way forward. Getting a yoga mat is the first step in this journey toward self-actualization.

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