I get asked this question a lot, so I decided to share my opinions here too,)
Home Practice Yoga Mats with Extra Grip
I personally use and love the Liforme mats<3 They are super sticky, whether you sweat or not, the grip is just perfect. I think the thickness is around 4 mm, weight 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) – which means very heavy! But it’s worth to carry around still. Any good yoga mat is heavy!
They are a little bit on the expensive side (€135/$140), but if you use it everyday for a year, you will not regret it! Also you get a free travel bag with it! So you save some money there. Just don’t forget to sign it, or personalize, otherwise you will not be able to recognize your bag or even the yoga mat on yoga festivals and workshops, where every second person will have the same… The Liforme mats are being sold by many web-shops, so have a look around for a discount code (like signing into the mailing list for 10%…) and you can get yours cheaper. Important is to really take care of it! Do not leave it just flat on your floor, but every time you finish with your practice, roll it and store it somewhere. I know this because, I did that mistake by having an rubber mat always lying on my floor, and it lost it stickiness after a year. Direct sunlight is also one of the factors that will damage the mat, and it will not be sticky. So if you love to practice outside, find a shadow and do not leave the mat lying on the sun.
Furthermore, if you need something lighter, for carrying around, but you hate the super thin travel mats, I recommend Lululemon 3mm thick mats. They are also extra grippy like the Liforme.
Sustainable Yoga Mats
If you are very eco friendly, I recommend the Jade Yoga mats. They are little bit narrower, than the Liforme, and similar in weight. Plus Jade Yoga plants a tree for each mat they sell! Jade Yoga was my first mat, and with that one I did the mistake of leaving it lying around my apartment all the time, so it deteriorated in two years. But any natural rubber mat will after some time!
But most of the yoga mat brands claim that their mats are eco friendly – the bottom is usually made from natural rubber base and then there is polyurethane or microfiber on top.
If you don’t care about grip that much, and you prefer something that last forever, I recommend a Manduka Pro Lite mat. This mats are extra durable. They even have a special lifetime warranty. I used to practice on these mats in a studio and they are really nice. However when you start to sweat, they will be a little bit more slippery. This can be easily resolved by placing a small tower underneath your hands. I was using one from Lululemon and it was a perfect combination. I think Manduka has some towels on their website too.
Suede-top/Carpet Yoga Mats
And last but not least: if you practice ashtanga yoga, and/or do jump-throughs a lot and your feet needs to slide on the mat, I definitely do not recommend any of the mats with extra grip like Liforme or Lululemon. Because first of all, it’s harder to slide the legs, like reaaally hard! And second, you can even get burned skin – happened to me twice already… For this, there are mats that have an “integrated” towel on top of them, like a little carpets,) They will have different colors and prints.
My ultimate favorite in this category is SugarMat! I was very skeptical about it at first, since my experience was that these type of mats are just too slippery for me. But the Premium 3mm mat they offer are not just much grippier than it seem, but also extra light – as light as a travel mat from Liforme. And they even offer an ultra light mat for traveling, that is even thinner. Plus the 3mm and travel mats can be folded to fit into your luggage. And their designs are so beautiful too!
My first suede yoga mat was the Hybrid Mat* from Mala Yoga mat* (they have several designs too!). This one was definitely more slippery than the Sugarmat. But many other brands have these kind of mats, i.e. Livesankalpa in the US (I don’t have experience with them). These mats can be used on a daily basis. If you need more grip, you can sprinkle some water on the place where your hands and feet will be.
If you are searching for something truly traditional and portable, there are true carpet mats made from cotton. My favorite brand to buy a yoga carpet or a rug is from Leela Yoga Rugs.
Travel Yoga Mats
On my travels, I bring with me my 3mm mat from Sugarmat. It’s possible to fold it and it’s only 1.7 kg/3.7 lb heavy, plus I have enough cushioning for the knees (especially if I know I will have a full practice, for yoga workshops and teacher trainings). They do offer also even more portable travel mat, that is even lighter and ultra portable, but not that much cushioning.
For yoga in a park, I bring my Manduka eco superlite mat. This one is from the category of ultra grippy mats. It’s super thin – 1.5 mm. And you can fold it into a tiny square and carry it in your backpack!
I own also a Liforme travel mat. That one is a little bit thicker (2 mm) than the Manduka, good if you have more sensitive knees. But I wouldn’t recommend to fold it, so you need to roll it, and carry it in the bag that comes with it (hence additional baggage if you are taking a plane). Plus since it’s much thicker than others, it’s also heavier (1.6 kg/ 3.5 lb).
Cork Yoga Mats
I recently tried also a Cork mat from Lotuscrafts*. I didn’t have high hopes, but I fell in love! This mat not just smells nice, it’s warm – especially in winter months, I just love to spend all my time on it. But this mat is also super lightweight!
The grip is better than with microfibre-top mats, but it also requires a little bit of sweat to work. I usually just use my muscles at the beginning, to be able to hold a downward dog pose,D But it’s possible to just wet the part where the palms will be too.
Lotuscrafts says it has antimicrobial and self cleaning properties, and I had an ultimate test to this. One of my cats had an accident and a small amount of poop, that was more liquid than solid, actually felt on top. I cleaned it with a wet wipes designed for general use and there was no smell or visible marks left the next day! After using it almost daily for a month, there is no staining or change to the surface of this mat either (except for few cat scratches, that are my fault – never leave your mat unfolded on the ground guys!).
This mat is the lightest mat I own – so it’s ideal to transport around the city. It even comes with a thin strap for this purpose. However, it’s not designed to be folded or rolled too tight! So it takes quite some space. I don’t think I will bring it with me when traveling by plane.
The bottom is made from natural rubber and plastic though. I wish they would choose just the rubber for the mat to be more eco friendly. The top of the mat is from cork, but it’s not really a true cork – there is no way you can make such a thin and big square from true cork,) But it is still some kind of wood glued together and it feels nice.
Also the price (€50) makes this mat really affordable and you can even use my code “zgung10” to get 10% off. Although this mat ships to Europe only.