I don’t claim to be a yoga expert, I have somewhat recently taken up the practice myself. Given that, I will share with you my experience and recommendations for choosing the best yoga mat for beginners.
After many years dealing with back pain, and a discussion with my chiropractor, I decided it was time to start practicing yoga.
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If you are like me, and you are taking on a new adventure, it is important to know what equipment will be required. I am a firm believer in having the right equipment for the job. Now, you don’t have to spend a lot of money, although you certainly can if you want to. There are very good mats out there that won’t break the bank.
Following are some things to consider if you are looking for your first yoga mat. I have recently been through the experience and I can walk you through my thought process and some things I have learned.
Who is this yoga mat for?
Assuming this mat is for yourself, take into account your body. Nobody knows your body like you do. By that I mean, if you have bad knees, you will want a mat with more cushion. If you tend to sweat a lot when you workout, you will want a mat that will handle sweat.
What size yoga mat?
Yes, there are different sizes. Not all makes and models will have different sizes available, but check to make sure it will fit you before you buy. Especially if you are over six feet tall, you want to make sure you are buying a mat that will be long enough for you.
What type of yoga are you going to be practicing?
There are many different types of yoga, and some will require more or less effort on your part. I have taken both a root yoga class, which is fairly challenging for me, as well as a surrender class which is a lot more relaxing. Your mat will need to be able to support you whatever your style is. Of course with a hot yoga class you will sweat a lot more than with other types, so you want to make sure you have a mat that will handle the sweat.
Do you need accessories?
Believe it or not, there are accessories for yoga if you need or choose to use them:
- Blocks – can help you out if you can’t quite reach to hold a pose. These have been a tremendous help for me since I am working to gain flexibility and balance. Blocks can be a lifesaver and a measure of where you stand in your practice. I have started to discard the blocks as I have been progressing.
- Knee pads – If you need just a little extra cushion for your knees with those lunges, cat-cows, tabletop, etc.
- Yoga Towel – The best way to combat sweating is to buy a yoga towel. A yoga towel is a thin towel that will cover the surface of the mat. Your towel will help to soak up the sweat, so you won’t be slip sliding around. The nice thing about a yoga towel is they have these little grippers on them to help keep them in one place as you are moving from a Downward Dog to a runners lunge or any other pose for that matter.
Where are you going to use this yoga mat?
Will it be at home, or in a studio? Will you be practicing on a hard floor surface, or carpet? Again, this is where you will want to take a look at a thin mat, or a mat with more cushion, depending on what you need. Some basic things to think about with mats.
A thinner mat will be easier to balance and hold a pose with. A mat that has more cushion not be as stable as a thinner mat. The thing is though, as I mentioned earlier, you may need a thicker mat if you have problems with your joints.
Why do I need a yoga mat?
Well, I am a firm believer that if you are going to get the most out of your exercise routine you should have the appropriate gear for doing so. If you are going to take up running, you should buy a pair of good running shoes. You want the support and comfort to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
If you start out as a runner and you have crappy shoes, you could end up with blisters, and feet so sore that you can’t walk right for several days.
Okay, that may be a bit extreme, but the same concept holds true for any exercise program, this is true with yoga mats. You want to have the right equipment to make the experience a pleasurable one. If you are not comfortable on your mat, or you slip around a lot, you may not continue to practice. You may get frustrated and give up before you even get started.
For this reason, I recommend buying a solid yoga mat that will enhance your experience. You can get a pretty darn good mat for an affordable price. If you are practicing at home, you will want a mat that will work on whatever surface you are doing those Downward Dogs on.
If you have hard floors or carpet, you are going to want a mat that works with that surface. If you are practicing in a studio, then it’s most likely going to be hard floors.
The big reason I recommend purchasing your own mat
I recommend purchasing your own mat for another reason, after you have seen people like me, who sweat a lot, sharing a mat with you. That may be reason enough right there!
Sure, try the mats at your gym, or studio…that’s right the same mats that EVERYONE else is using. Oh, did I mention that everyone else is using them too? Yeah, so that is why I bought my own mat. Not that I am a germophobe, but I might be a bit grossed out by using some slightly still-damp mat that someone else just used.
How do you clean a yoga mat?
I am glad you asked that question, and it’s timely after we just discussed gross mats at the gym. Different mats will have different instructions for cleaning, so it’s important to understand that. A yoga mat spray can be used on a lot of mats, to clean up after your practice. Some of them can be submerged in a tub, and some cannot be submerged. It’s important to read about cleaning prior to purchasing.
Other things to consider
Price is certainly something you want to keep in mind. I know everyone has a different budget, but try to buy something that will last you for a while. The last thing you want to do is buy a cheap mat and soon after realize you need something better.
What is the mat made of?
Yoga mats come in a wide variety of materials. Some are cork, natural rubber, others are made from Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs), which encompasses a lot of different materials. The natural material mats like cork and rubber are supposed to be the best for sweaty hands as they absorb moisture. Just make sure that when you buy one, you know what’s in it. If you are allergic to latex, don’t buy a mat with latex, etc.
Portability is another thing to consider. Rubber mats will be heavier than some other materials, so you will want to keep that in mind. Another minor item is whether or not it comes with some sort of strap, or carrying bag. Again, we are talking about portability here.
Warranty & Customer Service– is the company going to stand behind their product? One thing I really take into account, pretty much no matter what I buy, is the warranty and how great the customer service is.
Don’t just buy the cheapest mat you can find due to many of the reasons already listed. Cheap mats will fall apart faster and usually will not provide the support you need. They tend to be squishier and slippery when wet. A lot of these mats are multipurpose, so not just suited for yoga.
Okay, so let’s jump right into things here:
Complete 6 Piece Yoga Set by Live Infinitely
Okay, first of all, I love this yoga set because it comes with everything you need to get started in your practice. You can literally set up anywhere with this set and you will be covered.
The set includes:
- 6′ 2″ dual layer, non-slip yoga mat.
- The mat is textured which will help with your grip.
- Made from non-toxic TPE, contains no latex or rubber
- The mat is 6 mm thick, which is really nice, that provides a lot of cushion
- Microfiber Yoga Towel
- They say the mat is non-slip, but in case you do slip, the yoga towel will come in very hand
- Two EVA foam blocks
- As I mentioned before, having blocks is really nice. These can help you if you can quite reach a certain pose, or if you need some extra support due to an injury. Blocks are a great addition to this set and are very versatile.
- The blocks can also be used for more advanced poses, but I am not there yet
- 8-foot cotton strap
- Now, this is something I hadn’t really thought about, but what a great addition to this set. Yoga straps again will help you stretch and reach poses that might just be out of reach for you, without forcing it.
- Carrying bag to neatly store and tote around all your gear
So, all in all, this is a really great set with a lot of value, definitely one of the best yoga mats for beginners. The fact that it comes with everything you need is great. As for cleaning, you can pick up some yoga mat cleaner, or use White Vinegar to wipe it down.
- Versatile yoga set comes with pretty much everything you need
- Budget-friendly given what you get with this set
- Users have been very happy with this yoga mat set
- Comes with all the “stuff” even if you don’t need all of it
- Only available in one color
Levoit Lotus Premium Yoga Set Kit
The Lotus Premium Yoga set has you covered, with everything you need to get started with your yoga practice. Another all-in-one set that is sure to make your yoga experience solid.
The set includes:
- Premium TPE yoga mat
- Durable non-slip yoga mat
- They are saying it is a multipurpose mat, designed for other uses as well
- 74 inches by 26 inches by .3 inches thick
- Easy to clean
- 2 microfiber yoga towels
- One medium towel for wiping down sweat and one XL towel that will fit over the mat
- They are calling the mat a non-slip mat, but I recommend using a towel if you sweat a lot
- Two EVA foam blocks
- 9 inches x 6 inches x 4 inches
- Blocks are really nice to help if you can’t quite reach a pose
- Also nice if you are advanced in your practice and need more of a challenge
- One stretch strap
- Great if you need a little help with a particular stretch, or if you are more advanced than I am 🙂
- One bag to carry everything in
- The bag is a great feature, and it would be a shame if they didn’t include a carrying bag. Keeps all your stuff in one spot and makes it easy to transport
- Bonus yoga-flow DVD
- Certainly a nice extra that isn’t offered with other sets. You can use this DVD and practice in your own home
Customers have been very pleased with this yoga kit. It’s really all you need for your practice, in one handy bag. I really think there is a lot of value in this complete set, making it a great yoga mat set for beginners.
- Complete yoga set in one bag
- Comes with a yoga-flow DVD
- It’s nice that it comes with 2 towels
- You may not need everything that comes in the set
- The mat is billed as a multi-purpose mat, so if you are looking for a mat specifically for yoga you may want to choose another option
Gaiam Beginner’s Yoga Starter Kit
Definitely a less expensive option, but still gives you the very basics for starting your yoga practice.
The set includes:
- 1 PVC yoga mat measuring 68 inches long by 24 inches wide, and is 3mm thick.
- This is thinner than some other mats, something to keep in mind if you need extra cushion
- This mat is not really suitable for tall people as it’s only 5 feet 8 inches long. So if you need a longer mat, you can look to the previous mat reviewed here.
- One yoga block measuring 6 inches x 9 inches x 3 inches
- Useful for helping you hold poses that are challenging for you
- Helpful if you are more advanced in your practice
- Dual purpose strap
- Can be used as a carrying strap
- The strap is 6 feet long
- Also used as a yoga belt to help you stretch in your practice
The set also comes with a helpful started DVD with a tutorial. You may get access to an online video instead of the DVD.
- Inexpensive starter kit
- The tutorial is nice, it explains the different positions, etc
- Easy to clean mat
- Available in two colors
- The mat is short, so it’s not good for tall people
- Does not include as much gear as the other yoga sets in this post
YogiMall Natural Jute Yoga Mat
This yoga mat set goes in a little different direction. This is a hybrid yoga mat, made with natural Jute fibers and Eco-PVC. Jute is extracted from the bark of the white jute plant. You may be familiar with this, it’s usually found as rope or string, so it is a natural material. Moving on…
The set includes:
- Dual-sided yoga mat. The mat is made of natural Jute fibers on one side and Eco-PVC on the other side.
- 72 inches long by 24 inches wide 5mm thick
- The Jute side is meant to absorb sweat and provide grip
- The other side is to provide cushion and support. You can flip the mat over and use the PVC side for other gym activities as well.
- Can be used for many different types of yoga
- Dual purpose strap
- Can be used as a way to carry your mat
- Also helps you to deepen your poses and increase flexibility
- Toeless socks
- Great for traction and helping you keep your balance
- Yoga handtowel
- Great for mopping up your sweat
Although this product is sold through Amazon, the YogiMall customer service has provided some awesome service to people who have had any issues with the product. I think that is very noteworthy to know the company will stand behind the product. Cleaning is easy, using a non-oil-based soap and dry it in the sun.
- Dual side
- Good grip
- Nice that it comes “extras”, towel, yoga socks, dual-purpose strap
- 72 inches long is nice for taller people
- Doesn’t come with blocks
- Only available in one color
- Not great for anyone over 6 feet tall
Manduka PROlite Yoga Mat and eQua Mat Towel Set
If you are interested a higher end mat that will last you a really long time, that is where Manduka comes in. Manduka has been making high-quality mats for a long time. These are definitely more expensive but are also worth the extra money. Now this mat doesn’t come with all of the gear that the others do, but the focus is on the quality of the mat.
You will be able to grow with this mat. As your practice grows, you won’t’ need to buy another mat. Some of the other mats here are dual purpose, but this guy is made specifically for yoga. If you want something that will last and grow with you, definitely take a look at the Manduka PROlite.
There isn’t much to this “set”, a mat and a towel. As for the mat, they come in a wide variety of colors and even different sizes. The sizes are 71 inches or 79 inches. The catch is that not all colors are available in all sizes, so keep that in mind. It’s nice that these are available in the longer size, good for tall people.
These mats are somewhat heavier at about 4 pounds, but that means it is a more dense mat. A mat that is more dense will provide better stability. This mat is 4.7mm thick.
Cleanup is easy, as this is a closed cell mat. What that means is sweat and moisture will not penetrate the material itself and is therefore easy to clean up yoga mat spray. You do not want to submerge this mat.
The only downside is that the moisture will not penetrate, meaning you may find yourself slipping. It is best to use a yoga towel with this mat.
The thing I have found is that mats are called non-slip, but if you sweat a lot, it’s just a good idea to use a grippy towel anyway.
- High-quality mat
- Dense mat to provide cushion for your joints
- Non-toxic and easy to clean
- Available in a wide variety of colors
- More expensive, especially for a starter mat (but it will last)
- Only comes with a mat and a towel
- Not all mats are available in extra long
If you are concerned about your budget and want more of an all in one kit, this may not be the option for you.
Sivan Health and Fitness Yoga Set
Well, this is an interesting little gem that I found. This set is very popular and is very well priced.
The set includes:
- Yoga mat
- 71 inches long x 24 inches wide, 1/2 inch thick
- A non-slip bottom surface of the mat will keep the mat from sliding
- Integrated carrying strap
- 2 foam blocks
- Blocks are great for helping you as well as enhancing your practice adding a challenging element
- 2 yoga towels
- One towel for wiping your sweat away 30 inches x 20 inches
- One long towel for absorbing sweat to keep you from slipping 68 inches long x 24 inches wide
This mat is great for some taller people, and the whole set is really affordable. The integrated strap can be used to carry the mat, and also as an added stretching tool. You will love the color selection available with this mat! Lots of colors to choose from.
Overall, I think this is a really good value and the product rates well. I would definitely take a look at this option if you are in the market for a well-priced set. This is a great yoga mat for beginners.
- A wide variety of color options available
- Budget-friendly, very nice price point
- Lot’s of positive reviews
- Some people did report that the mat stretches a bit
- This mat is 1/2 inch thick, which is great for hard floors and bad knees, but it might not provide the stability that you need
- The yoga towel isn’t long enough to cover the entire mat
Here is a mat with a lot of great reviews at a very appealing price point. This is a 1/2 inch thick mat that is 71 inches long and 24 inches wide. I wanted to include a much less expensive option that comes with a lot less gear.
The high-density foam is great for sensitive joints, but not so great for stability. This is called a “water resistant” mat, so it repels moisture and is easy to clean. The only issue I see with that is the potential for slippage. The mat has some ribbed texture to, which should provide some extra grip. I would still recommend a yoga towel.
The mat comes with a sling which makes it easy to store, and transport if you need to. The strap is not attached, so it does not get in the way. Just make sure you don’t lose the strap!
You will love the wide variety of colors available, that’s for sure. You will definitely be able to find just the right color for you.
So at the end of the day, I think the real selling point on this mat is the comfort and thickness. That is great for some people as I mentioned, it will be softer for a lot of floor work, maybe not so good if you require more stability. If you are looking for a soft, cushy mat, this may be a great option for you. I think this is one of the best yoga mats for beginners.
- 1/2 inch thick is great for sensitive joints
- A wide variety of colors available
- Inexpensive mat
- Might be too cushy for some people and not provide enough stability
- May tend to be slippery and require a yoga towel
- From the images I have seen, it doesn’t always lay completely flat.
Conclusion: Best Yoga Mat for Beginners
Well, we have definitely covered a lot of ground here and provided a lot of options. You will need to decide what features and accessories you want from a yoga mat. Whether you want an entire set, with blocks, towels, etc, or if you just want a mat. There are a variety of options to choose from. My hope is that I have provided you with some excellent choices, done some of the research for you and have helped you make an informed decision.
If you are looking for other yoga mat options, and are beyond the beginner stage, check out my post about yoga mats here.
If you have any other questions or need additional help, please send me an email, or use the comments section below.