After a single full class on an unsupportive mat, you may be tempted to buy the thickest one you can find. Do yourself a favor and resist that urge.
Yes, an extra-thick mat means cushioned joints, but it also means a chunky layer of foam between your feet and the floor. Yoga practice is meant to ground you — that's why yogis practice barefoot — so there needs to be some stability underneath you in order to create a strong foundation, especially for balancing poses. For that reason, the best thick yoga mats strike a middle ground between comfort and solid support.
So how thick should your yoga mat be? A standard yoga mat is usually around 1/8 inches thick (or 3.17 millimeters). Anything over that is considered "extra thick," but be careful — manufacturers toss this phrase around for basically anything over 3 millimeters, so check your measurements before you buy.
If you're not sure where to start, these six yoga mats ease the pressure on your knees, spine, and wrists without compromising in other areas.
Pros: The Gaiam yoga mat has well over a thousand rave reviews. Most of them comment on how it's "so much more comfortable" than other mats "because of the added thickness," but it's "not too squishy that it would mess up balance." It also has a non-slip, extra-traction surface, a non-toxic PVC construction, and over 30 unique and colorful patterns to choose from — all for under $30. This mat even comes with a free downloadable yoga routine to get you started with your practice. No wonder it's the top pick for so many people.
Cons: It's definitely on the thinner side of "extra thick" mats, so if you have a pre-existing injury, you might need something with more padding.
Pros: When they named the HemingWeigh extra thick mat, they weren't kidding. This one has enough padding to protect your knees, spine, elbows, and wrists on virtually any floor during any kind of workout. It's thick enough to absorb impact should you fall out of a pose, and it's designed with non-slip ridges to better grip your hands and feet as well as the floor underneath it. Since it's moisture-resistant, it's also easy to wipe clean with a wet towel, and for just $20, it's definitely the most budget-friendly pick — especially since it comes with a free carrying strap.
Cons: Because it's essentially half an inch of foam, it's not ideal for balancing poses. Some reviewers also complain about the traction.
Pros: Most thick mats are pretty slippery. The YOGALAND premium yoga mat, on the other hand, was designed with two distinct layers — a bottom layer of cushioning to protect your body from the hard floor, and a top layer of textured, rubber-like material that grips your skin even when sweaty. It's also reversible, lightweight, made without harmful toxins, and each color comes with a free carrying strap. "Truly nonslip and the thickness is perfect," one reviewer raves.
Pros: This pick from Crown Sporting Goods has earned the name "The Cloud Mat," but unlike your typical thick mats, it's made from a high-density foam that resists squishing and sinking more so than other brands. It has horizontal ridges to keep you slip-free, a shock-absorbing consistency to prevent discomfort, and a bonus shoulder strap for hassle-free travel to and from your yoga classes. According to reviewers, it's definitely the best option for pre-existing injuries. "Incredible," one buyer writes, "especially for someone like me with bad knees," while another says, "thick enough [to protect] my elbow that I injured."
Cons: During more advanced balancing poses, you'll likely have to move this mat aside entirely — the foam is too thick to provide a stable surface for poses like Tree, Chair, and Crow.
Pros: The Lottus Life yoga mat feels like memory foam underneath your body, but it has a natural jute fiber-covering on top. This not only provides grip and stability but it "doesn't seem to interfere with [reviewers'] balance" because it creates a floor-like surface that won't sink down into itself. Since it's almost like a fabric, it also absorbs moisture better than other closed-cell mats, so it's a good choice if you sweat a lot during your practice.
Cons: This one's definitely on the pricier side. Since it's a woven fiber, the jute might also feel prickly when you first get it, but it smooths out over time.
Pros: Manduka is one of the most trusted and loved brands in yoga, but their pro mats are usually way too thin for a novice. Luckily, the Manduka Welcome mat was made with the beginner in mind. The top closed-cell surface is textured with tiny raised dots for traction, but it also has a second textured layer underneath for better comfort and support. This one's even made with an alignment stripe down the middle, so you can ensure proper positioning and centering while you're getting used to your poses. Like most other Manduka products, it's extra lightweight, skips the harmful toxins, and is manufactured with energy-efficient techniques.
Density 1.7 Rolled Rubber
Cons: Since it comes at a much more affordable price point, this one isn't nearly as durable as other Manduka mats. It's also not as sticky as some reviewers would like.
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