How to Choose the Best Yoga Mat - 2024

Woman doing yoga on a REP yoga mat

There’s a type of exercise you can add to your life to improve strength, balance, flexibility, heart health, sleep, your mood, your stress levels – the list goes on.  

Can you say, “Om?”   

The extensive health benefits of yoga are well documented.   

Here’s a look at why you might want to sprinkle a little more Savasana into your workouts – and what you need to add to your home or commercial gym to make it happen.   

First, the why. 

Let’s Talk About Yoga 

Woman doing yoga

Surely, you know what yoga is. But there are plenty of misconceptions – especially in the West -- about this ancient practice. In its simplest definition, yoga is just moving your body through different positions. The goal is to sync your body, breathing, and mind.   

While some people may incorporate yoga into their spiritual practices (and it was originally developed as such thousands of years ago), yoga is not a religion and does not have to be spiritual. It can simply be a great workout or way to reduce stress, if that’s what you want.  

The Benefits of Yoga 

Benefits of yoga
There are tons of reasons to try yoga. It can:

  • Reduce stress and anxiety 
  • Boost your immune system 
  • Improve your flexibility (even the lowest intensity styles of yoga)  
  • Reduce inflammation that may be linked to heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and more.  
  • Increase your strength (yes, it may benefit your gainz, bruh) 
  • Improve your balance (important for older adults, but also athletes) 
  • Improve cardiovascular health (especially the yogic breathing) 
  • Help your sleep  
  • Build bone health, posture, and body awareness 
  • And more 

What Do You Need for a Yoga Practice?  

One of the great things about yoga is it doesn’t require much. Technically, you can do it anywhere with no equipment. But a supportive yoga mat can go a long way to make your practice comfortable and help you find/hold positions.  

Other than that, you may want yoga straps to help you stretch tight muscles (but a yoga mat carrying strap can sometimes double up for straps). You can add other pieces of equipment as time goes on and depending on the style of yoga you prefer. This may include a yoga block and pillow. Also, have a water bottle and small towel nearby.  

You will definitely want comfortable clothing that’s easy to move in, like tights or shorts. Layers are important in yoga, as you warm up and cool off at the end, so snag a comfy hoodie, too. 

Woman in comfortable gym clothes

How to Pick a Yoga Mat? 

A quality yoga mat is the most important purchase for your yoga practice. Look for mats that have:  

  • A grippy bottom side to keep the mat from sliding around on the floor 
  • A grippy top side to help hold your hands and feet in position  
  • Enough padding to be supportive but not so much that it throws off your balance  
  • Easy-to-clean material that either wipes down easily, doesn’t absorb sweat, and/or is naturally antimicrobial, helping to keep your mat clean and free from the odor of perspiration. 

Types of Yoga Mats  

REP offers three types of yoga mats, as well as an exercise mat that might work for some stretching/floor work, if you’re in a pinch.  

Yoga Mat  

Standard REP Yoga Mat

This mat is environmentally friendly, made from recyclable thermoplastic elastomer, which is super strong and durable. This material, a blend of plastic and rubber, won't absorb water or sweat and is easy to clean. The mat’s top side is light gray with a dark gray REP mountain logo, and the bottom is black.  

Both sides feature just the right amount of grippy texture to support your yoga poses and keep the mat from slipping on the floor. The mat is lightweight and flexible, easy to roll up and travel with the Yoga Mat Carry Strap (sold separately). The Yoga Mat provides good cushion with a 6.5mm thickness. The mat is 69” long, 24" wide, and weighs just 2.1lbs. 

Premium Yoga Mat in Polyurethane 

Premium REP Yoga Mat

This mat is made from environmentally friendly, recyclable polyurethane and natural rubber. Polyurethane, a blend of plastic and rubber, is resistant to abrasion and water and is easy to clean.

The mat’s top side is dark gray with a laser-cut black REP mountain logo, and the bottom is grippy black natural rubber. This mat weighs 9lbs. It is 7mm thick, which provides a comfortable cushion. It's 73” long and slightly wider (27.5”) than a standard mat, so you have more space for your practice. 

Premium Mat in Cork  

Premium REP Yoga Mat in cork

This mat is made from natural rubber and 100% sustainable, natural, biodegradable, recyclable, renewable, raw cork. Cork is super breathable, dissipates heat well, and is antimicrobial, which helps keep your mat clean and odor-free. Cork has a smooth, velvety texture, which feels soft on bare skin, yet it remains durable over time.

This mat also weighs about 9lbs. It features a grippy black bottom and a light brown top with a dark brown REP mountain logo.   

This mat is also 7mm thick, 73” long, and slightly wider (27.5”) than a standard mat, so you have more space for your practice. 

Exercise Mat 

Dog on Exercise Mat

This mat is lightweight, making it easy to carry to and from your workouts and around your exercise space. It’s super comfortable, made with thick, 1.5” internal foam that provides plenty of padding during your exercises and stretching. 

The mat is also stable, designed so it will lie flat and not curl up at the corners. It’s thick enough to support your body weight and provide support and comfort.  

The mat is 48”(L)x24”(W)x1.5”(H), so it’s big enough for yoga, gymnastics, and cardio, while still maintaining a small enough footprint to fit in any sized gym. 

How are the Premium Yoga Mats Different From the Exercise Mat?  

The Premium Yoga Mats are longer, thinner, and made from a different material. The Premium Yoga Mat is also wider. The Exercise Mat is made with thick, 1.5” internal foam that provides padding, and it’s designed to lie flat and not roll up. The Premium Yoga Mat can roll up and can be carried around with the Yoga Mat Carry Strap (sold separately).   

The Premium Yoga Mats are also longer and wider than the Exercise Mat.  

How are the Premium Yoga Mats Different From the Standard Yoga Mat?

REP's yoga mats

The premium mats are slightly wider than the standard mat, so you have more space for your practice. The Premium Yoga Mats are also heavier and thicker for an extra comfortable cushion. The premium mats also come in cork, a breathable and antimicrobial, natural material.

Still Unsure Which Yoga Mat to Pick? 

Woman doing yoga

Here’s a cheat sheet to help you pick the right yoga mat.  

If you do hot yoga: Premium Yoga Mat in cork 

You may prefer the cork material over polyurethane if you are practicing Ashtanga, hot yoga, or Vinyasa, as it will absorb the sweat and provide a higher level of grip. 

If you want more space for your practice: Premium Yoga Mat  

The premium mats are slightly longer than the Exercise Mat and standard Yoga Mat and it's wider than the Exercise Mat.

If you want a mat for yin/restorative/prenatal yoga: Premium Yoga Mat in polyurethane 

If you are practicing more Hatha, Iyengar, yin, and prenatal yoga, you may prefer polyurethane for its balance and cushion. 

If you want the most padding for working out: Exercise Mat  

The Exercise Mat is the thickest option, with 1.5” internal foam.  

 If you want the lightest, easiest-to-carry option: Yoga Mat with Yoga Mat Carry Strap 

The Yoga Mat is the lightest option – and it rolls up easily to fit in the Yoga Mat Carry Strap. The premium mats are also compatible with the carry strap. The Exercise Mat is not.  

If you want a mat that won't absorb sweat or water: a polyurethane mat

The premium or standard yoga mat in polyurethane won't absorb sweat or water.