Every yogi will come across many milestones during his or her practice: trying that first inversion, nailing crow for the first time and making it a minute through savasana without thinking about what to eat for dinner. But one less exciting, inevitable milestone all yogis must go through is realizing when it’s time to replace their yoga mat.
While we wish our mats would last as long as our practice, in reality, they typically only last about a year (depending on your frequency of flowing, of course). The moment your feet begin losing their grip and you start to notice some wear and tear, you know it’s time to replace your yoga mat.
But don’t let their short lifespans deter you from investing in a solid, reliable mat. While the process of shopping for a new one (let alone, a good one) may seem daunting, it’s more than worth it. Practicing on a comfortable, supportive surface can aid you in your practice and, more importantly, prevent serious injury.
So how do you know what to look for in a yoga mat? We’ve highlighted five things to consider when shopping for this accessory (and our five favorites that make the cut).
One of the most important features you should look for when choosing a yoga mat is its level of comfort. Being upside down in a headstand or entering crescent lunge is not the time to figure out that your mat isn’t giving you enough support. While all mats should give you the right amount of cushioning for your needs, pay extra attention if you have sensitive knees or enjoy having extra padding underneath your feet. While pricier than most yoga mats, Manduka’s Pro Yoga Mat is durable, comfortable and will give your body all the support it needs during class.
Buy: Manduka Pro Yoga Mat, $110
If hot or Bikram yoga is your thing, searching for a mat with slip-resistant and strong grip features is a must. Look for mats that are made with natural rubber—they’ll provide the cushion you need and give your feet enough grip to avoid slipping when things start to heat up. With great traction and comfortable padding, this JadeYoga Harmony mat is perfect for those extra sweaty yoga seshes.
Buy: JadeYoga Harmony Mat, $75
If you’ve ever tried walking through the streets of a crowded city with a bulky yoga mat, you understand the benefit of having one that is more portable. For all the frequent fliers and commuters out there, look for a mat that is made for travel, meaning it feels lightweight and is less than 5 mm thick. This lightweight mat by Lululemon is perfect for doing flows while on the go—plus, it’s super stylish.
Buy: The Reversible (Un) Mat Lightweight Travel by Lululemon, $48
While certainly an investment, yoga mats are pretty high up there when it comes to fitness accessories. If budget is a concern, you’ll want to find a yoga mat that is high quality but still affordable. While Gaiam has pricier options, this two-color yoga mat is a steal and it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Buy: Gaiam Premium 2-Color Yoga Mats, $24
Many yoga companies pride themselves on not only delivering a high-quality, upstanding product, but also going the extra mile by creating something that’s eco-friendly. If it’s important for you to find a yoga mat that is not only better for the environment, but also better for your health, then this Barefoot Yoga mat is the way to go. The mat is made from 100% recycled polyester and is latex-free, created in a completely non-toxic environment. And—bonus—it doesn’t exactly break the bank, either.
Buy: BareFoot Yoga Hybrid Eco-Friendly Mat, $32