Finding the Perfect Yoga Mat

There was a time when I was a complete yoga mat hoarder. I accumulated mat after mat, hoping each would be better than the last but ultimately still searching for the perfect mat. In typical Goldilocks fashion, they were either too slippery, to thin, too heavy etc but I think I’ve found one that’s ‘just right’.

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The new ‘yoga corner’ in my living room.

In my quest for the perfect mat, I’ve learnt what my priorities are when it comes to choosing the best mat. In my eyes, it should be an investment. I’ve tried cheaper mats with very little success and if I’m perfectly honest (when am I not?), making a decent investment of a yoga mat has changed my practice. So, with my current favourites in mind, I’ve compiled a list of what I think you should consider when buying a yoga mat.

Grip

This is my first and foremost thought when looking at, or sampling, yoga mats. In terms of classes, I go between hot and temperate yoga on a regular basis, but regardless of room temperature, I’m going to be sweating! The absolute worst thing, in my opinion, is the feeling of hands and feet sliding away from each other during downwards facing dog. Not very zen. The BEST mat I’ve ever come across for grip, and this was my major investment, is from Liforme. Ranging from between £80 for the travel mat (2mm) and £100 for the standard (4.2mm) it’s a big dent in your bank account, but 100% worth it! If you are a serious yogi (or even if you’re not), practicing regularly and intensely, then this could be your dream mat. I have the lighter travel version, which I use as a studio mat topper and bought it at Om Yoga Show with the smallest of discounts, which made me feel a bit better about it!

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Comfort

I get very sore knees and hips (I sound like a granny), which is why I tend to ‘double mat’ with a studio mat and my Liforme when I’m taking class across London. The extra cushioning just helps with prone postures where my hips dig in, and kneeling postures when my knees are not particularly happy. When I’m practicing yoga, or doing any kind of workout at home, I use a super thick mat from Lululemon. The grip is almost as good as the Liforme, but at 5mm thick, the cushioning is brilliant. Saying that, Lululemon do have thinner versions of this mat, and with pretty good grip, they’re a slightly more affordable option if the Liforme is a stretch too far.

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Company Ethics

These days more and more companies, and consumers, are putting ethics and the environment at the forefront of their core values. I’ve seen it with Bella Kinesis, Passion Planner and others, where a purchase from them benefits a charity or underprivileged group. Cork Yogis is another. With yoga mats made from cork, this eco-friendly material actually gains more grip as it gets wet. The cork is harvested from Oak trees, and it regrows every 8/9 years, making cork a sustainable industry. The yoga mat bags Cork Yogis provide are made in collaboration with Destiny, a charity in India that helps rescue young girls and women from a life of forced prostitution and sex slavery. Using old sarees to make the beautiful bags, Cork Yogis puts ethics and sustainability at the top of the agenda for everything it does.

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Design

I know that stylish activewear shouldn’t make you go to the gym any more than normal kit, but sometimes it does, and perhaps the same goes for yoga mats. I am seeing more and more yoga mats with beautiful designs worthy of hanging on your wall let alone being on the floor, and Bliss Cloud is among some of the best. New to the yoga mat scene, and with stunning designs, I opted for a mandala pattern in calming blue tones. Not only beautiful, these mats are also functional, machine washable and made from eco-friendly tree rubber. Free from toxic chemicals, and printed with water-based inks, your hands won’t smell after you practice.

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This mat is so stunning, I quite often just leave it rolled out in my yoga corner just because it looks so nice. It also feels so soft underfoot, double it up as a rug and you’re on to a winner.

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So yes, I am still a bit of a yoga mat hoarder, but I have different uses for each. My Liforme comes with me from studio to studio and the Bliss Cloud, Cork and Lululemon get rotated around for my home practice, or rolled out together if I’m practicing with a friend. You can never have too many yoga mats, right?!

Bliss Cloud and Cork Yogis provided me with complimentary mats to try, Lululemon and Liforme mats purchased myself. All words my own, please see Disclaimer for more information.