Buying a yoga mat is hard work. There are a gazillion brands out there, all saying "I'm the best"! But which one is really the best for you?
I swear, half the time, it get's so overwhelming we abandon our search and hop onto amazon, buying the first "sticky" mat we see ....
As a yoga teacher I've worked with brands that have let me try out their mats (hoping I'll buy hundreds if I like them). Obviously, there can only be a couple of winners, so a lot of them are sent back. I thought it was about time I shared my experience of what's available out there.
Below, are my reviews - fingers crossed it helps someone :)
1) Jade Eco Mats
THE UPSIDE: Affordable (middle of the road pricing at £30-£40), They're eco friendly and have a good amount of sponginess to them. Not as much as a Sticky Mat but far more than a cork mat. They come in a variety of colours and have good grip, even when a little sweaty. For hot yoga, I'd still put a towel over the top.
THE DOWNSIDE: Quite a lot heavier than expected. Also, if left in the sun, the dye in the mat turns a "burnt" colour, which can look unsightly (unfortunately, I learnt this the hard way). Keep yours in a dark place and it will be fine. Can be prone to tears and rips if handled too roughly.
2) Yoloha Cork Mats
THE UPSIDE: This really is an eco-friendly mat. Made from cork (a very sustainable tree), which is fixed with steam to the back of recycled tyres. It's got grip, even when you're sweating buckets. It's antibacterial (thanks to the anti fungal properties of cork) and it's made by a very nice family in the states. Ticks all my boxes.
THE DOWNSIDE: It's heavy & not very spongy if practicing on a hard surface. You'll receive a hemp "carry strap" with it but the weight of the mat means it digs into your shoulders. Over time, if handled or rolled up too tight, the cork can start to crack. I emailed Ryan (the creator) and he said you can fill the cracks in with wood glue (which to me was a shame as there's no glue in the original design, only steam). The last thing to mention is that it's very expensive. Ranging from £90-£100. Despite this, I think it's a great mat. I use mine everyday and love it to bits.
3) ecoYoga Mats
THE UPSIDE: 100% eco friendly and made by a lovely family in Scotland, making it super sustainable. Made from woven fibrous material, it's really grippy and comes in some nice colours made from vegetable dyes. Again, middle of the road in terms of pricing, very similar to Jade Mats. Comes in extra long too which is handy for tall folk.
THE DOWNSIDE: Doesn't offer much support for knees and elbows. A very thin and hard mat. I was tempted to put mine over my Jade Mat so it was more comfortable on my joints. The lighter colours are prone to staining and the mat is hard to clean as the fibre grips onto any stains / dirt.
4) Manduka Yoga Mats
THE UPSIDE: A huge variety of mats to choose from which do various bits and bobs, so there's something for everyone.
THE DOWNSIDE: They are complete crooks in terms of their "eco" friendly status. Many of my friends have complained about the mats not lasting. The company claim their mats will last you for life. If you're lucky and it does, it's because they are 0% biodegradable, which means bad news for the world if it doesn't! Prices are quite high for such a load of rubbish. A brand to stay away from at all costs until they sort themselves out.
*** if eco - friendly doesn't bother you, then Manduka will have something for you ***
5) PrAna Yoga Mats
THE UPSIDE: Cheaper than Manduka but pretty much the same kind of company in terms of reputation. The mats come in nice patterns / colours. Are nice under the joints. Spongy and what not...
THE DOWNSIDE: Just like Maduka, if you really look at their production methods, their eco-friendly mats really are not eco friendly at all. It's a big marketing farce to try and improve their reputation as a yoga mat supplier.
6) Sticky Mats
THE UPSIDE: They're cheap, light-weight & spongy. That's it.
THE DOWNSIDE: I'm sorry to say this but I hate them, passionately. They're plastic and they SMELL of plastic. The stickiness soon wears off which means you slip and slide all over the place. As a result, people often end up having to buy a yoga towel to place overtop. Sticky Mats take YEARS to
biodegrade, if not at all, which means more plastic waste globally. Not good.
7) Revolution Mats
THE UPSIDE: They're made from a biodegradable rubber composite and are very thick, meaning lots of padding
for knees and elbows. A good price too, ranging between £30-£40. Comes in extra long and extra wide.
THE DOWNSIDE: So. Incredibly. Heavy. This mat, as you can imagine weighs an absolute tonne and is not particularly flexible in terms of rolling up. It has good grip to start but get's slippy if you start to sweat. Not the most practical mat on the market and the colours are limited. Black or blue. That's it.
Much love and happy shopping!