To begin practicing yoga, there’s a singular “must-have”.

The yoga mat.

Your mat defines your personal space during practice. But it’s so much more.

If you’ve committed to a consistent yoga practice, you know.

When you roll out your mat and step on . . . something shifts.

Your mat becomes a place of refuge.

Your mat becomes an intimate friend.

The yoga mat is like a magic carpet to the self. When on it, you’ll discover places within that were previously unknown.

Your mat is much more than a rolled-up piece of rubber.

It’s a valuable partner to your yoga practice.

Your mat can possess qualities that support your goals for your practice, or not.

Choose wisely.

This article is for you if you’re a new practitioner or if you’ve been practicing yoga for a while but aren’t sure you have the right mat.

There are plenty of articles where you can find reviews of 20 different yoga mats. That’s not what you’ll find here.

Below you’ll find my top three recommendations for THE MOST VERSATILE yoga mats for practicing any style of yoga.

I also list the features I believe are important and why.

I’m a yoga teacher.

I’ve spent the last fourteen years testing and wearing out mats.

I’ve had countless students ask for recommendations on mats.

My top pics are guided not only by my own experience but also by feedback from yogis who have transitioned to the mats I recommended.

Why does your mat matter?

When I started practicing yoga, I assumed that mats were mats.

What differences could there possibly be among the various overpriced brands?

I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

I went cheap.

One day after class, the teacher asked “What kind of mat are you using?”

This was the first time I had given my mat more than a passing thought.

I told her the truth: No clue.

The brand? No idea.

She didn’t push the topic and we moved on to a different conversation.

But by the time I walked out of the studio and arrived at my car, I was wondering.

WHY did the teacher ask that question? WHAT was she implying?

Does a Rolex tell better time?

Does a Louis Vuitton transport lipstick more efficiently?

I’ve never been one to care about such things.

Besides, I was pushing the budget by paying for studio yoga classes. I wasn’t about to overpay for a mat.

But I was wondering . . . was I missing something?

A few weeks, many Google searches, and hundreds of yoga mat reviews later, I had a new mat in hand.

It changed my practice — profoundly and immediately.

Top 3 Picks for the most versatile yoga mats:

1. B Mat

I own two variations of the B Mat — Strong and Everyday.

B Mats are 100% rubber and measure 26×71″.

This mat has serious grip and I mean serious.

The good news: you can sweat like a pig in your hot classes and you won’t be slipping and sliding around. Your down dog will remain solidly intact, even in a swamp of sweat.

The bad news: it’s so sticky that it will collect everything . . . including every piece of lint, hair and dust in the vicinity.

B Mat Strong: 6mm thick (about 5 lbs). The strong mat is my chosen mat for my home practice and for teaching in my private (home-based) studio. It has great cushion and grip, but it’s heavy. Since it’s not as easy to transport as my other top pics, I keep this one at home. Current price: $134

B Mat Everyday: 4mm thick (about 4 lbs). A great all-around mat, but 2mm thinner and a pound lighter than the Strong version. Current price: $116.

I am an ambassador for b, halfmoon. You can use THIS LINK and enter the discount code “JERILYN15” for 15% off your entire order.

2. Lululemon — The Mat 5mm

Lululemon’s The Mat is 26×71” (the same size as the B Mat) but lighter weight at 3.3 lbs.

Current price: $98

This mat has a rubber base and a “grippy top layer” (Lululemon doesn’t reveal the exact contents of the top layer).

The good news: the top layer has a nice grip when purchased (although it’s not as sticky as the B Mat). Nice grip but less sticky is fantastic, particularly when we’re talking about cleanliness. The Lululemon mat wipes down very nicely and is much easier to clean than the B Mat.

The bad news: Lululemon mats lose their grip over time. Typically after 9–12 months of heavy use, I notice that I’m starting to slip around.

If you aren’t practicing daily, you’ll experience a longer life from this mat.

Lululemon has a quality promise, but it doesn’t cover usage beyond an item’s “practical lifetime”. What does Lululemon deem as the practical lifetime for their mats? I haven’t been able to get a consistent answer.

I’ve lost track of how many Lululemon mats I own and have owned. I keep them in various locations, such as my parent’s house out of state.

Lululemon’s The Mat is the one I drag in and out of the local studio where I teach.

The Lululemon mat is less than one pound lighter than the B Mat Everyday and less than two pounds lighter than the B Mat Strong. The weight difference doesn’t seem relevant, but these minuscule details can “make or break” a mat for me. I notice.

When my mat is dangling off my shoulder from a mat strap, and I’m in and out of my car and in and out of the studio, I want it to be as lightweight as possible.

3. Gaiam Dry Grip Long & Wide

The Gaiam Dry Grip Long & Wide is indeed longer, but it is the same width as the B Mats and Lululemon mat above. Gaiam dimensions: 26×78”

The Gaiam is 5mm thick (same as Lululemon The Mat), and 5lbs (same as the B Mat Strong).

Material: PVC

The good news: This is the most economical option. The Gaiam Dry Grip Long & Wide is a great combination of size, cushion, weight, and price and still offers an excellent grip for sweaty practices. The 78″ length is a big plus.

Current price: $75

NOTE: I found it on Amazon for $58.17 at this link. I’m not an affiliate and have nothing to gain here.

The bad news: It’s made of PVC — Polyvinyl Chloride. I encourage you to do your own research research on this topic. I’m not an expert, but I believe there are environmental risks in the manufacturing and disposal of PVC products.

If you have concerns about PVC, consider the B Mat. As noted above, Lululemon’s The Mat has a rubber base, but the contents of the top layer aren’t disclosed.

With any new mat, I recommend airing it out for several days before practicing on it. Hang it outside on your deck or covered porch, preferably out of the sun.

The top four features I consider when buying a mat:

1. Cushion and support. (How thick should my mat be?)

I’ve had students show up for yoga with thick Pilates mats.

If you’re working on balance . . . most of us are . . . you’re essentially screwed with a thick mat. If you like the added challenge of a thick mat, knock yourself out.

There’s a reason for designating Pilates mats as a “separate species” from a yoga mat.

Pilates mats are generally 8-15mm thick.

Yoga mats are generally 3–6mm thick.

The styles of yoga you practice should directly influence the thickness of your mat.

If you intend to stick with Yin and/or Restorative yoga exclusively, you could use a Pilates mat because a thicker mat is nice when you’re spending all your time in seated or reclined/prone postures (no standing poses). You’re also likely to cover your mat with a blanket for these practices.

If you’re just getting started and you’re not sure what styles of yoga you’ll be practicing, then choose a mat 4–6mm thick.

If you intend to practice Hatha or Vinyasa and/or you have sensitive knees, steer towards a thicker (5 or 6mm) yoga mat.

2. GRIP & TRACTION

No one wants to fight to stay in downward-facing dog, or any pose.

If you practice heated vinyasa or Ashtanga, grip is seriously important.

Slippage is not fun and it will impact your practice.

I prioritize grip whenever I buy a mat.

Here’s why:

I expect my yoga mat to be multifunctional.

As in, ONE mat should be versatile enough to suit my needs for any style of yoga I choose to practice.

If you practice limited styles of yoga, then you can shift which mat features to prioritize based on your styles of choice.

Example: If your yoga styles of choice are Yin, restorative, and/or Yoga Nidra, grip is irrelevant. Prioritize cushion.

Example: If you’re doing Bikram (Hot 26) yoga, you’re likely putting a yoga towel over your mat to catch the sweat. In that case, mat grip is irrelevant because you’re covering it. If you don’t use a towel for Hot 26, defer to my notes on the stickiness of each mat listed above.

3. Portability/Weight

If you practice at home, this is a nonissue.

If you’re in and out of the yoga studio, you might want to consider weight.

If you like to practice yoga when you travel, consider a travel mat.

Before I was well-versed in the benefits of having a separate mat for travel, I traveled on planes for years with my Lululemon The Mat.

I eventually decided I earned the privilege of having a travel mat.

My travel mat of choice:

Lululemon Travel Mat 1.5mm: Lululemon’s travel mat has the same dimensions as The Mat.

Current Price: $74

This travel mat is perfect for hotel rooms and vacation rentals with carpeted floors. Because it’s so thin, I bring a hand towel to place under my knees if practicing on hard floors or in a studio.

This mat travels great and I prefer it because the surface is easy to clean. Traveling with your mat exposes it to a whole new level of dirt and uncontrollable environments.

I’ve carried it on the plane and I’ve also packed it in my hard-sided checked bag when traveling abroad.

4. Color

Why would color matter?

It matters beyond your personal preference in colors.

It will make a difference in the appearance of your mat once you start practicing on it.

Let’s say your favorite color is yellow.

You buy a beautiful, bright yellow mat.

It doesn’t matter how clean you are (or think you are).

One day you’re going to notice dark spots where your hands and feet connect with the mat.

You’ll be very lucky if you practice on your yellow mat ten times before your mat looks filthy.

These marks might just be wear and tear on the surface of your mat. These marks might be a combination of dead skin and dirt.

I’m not here to debate what it is or how it gets there.

I’m including this information because no one ever told me I would regret buying a light-colored mat.

I had to learn the hard way and hope I’m doing you a favor here.

You can save yourself from having other yogis look at your mat in disgust.

You can save yourself from feeling like a person with poor hygiene.

You can dodge this entire issue by choosing a dark-colored mat.

Considering a cork mat or a yoga rug?

I’m not sold on either of these options.

Cork — While I love the idea of cork, in my experience, cork mats aren’t very functional, and they don’t last. Specifically, they aren’t sticky enough for my purposes, and the cork tends to flake.

Yoga Rugs — An organic cotton rug sounds great in theory. I haven’t met a yoga rug that could function as support for a physical yoga practice. However, it will be perfect for your meditation practice.