So being that I have done yoga for 20years now, I thought it must be time I review the mats that I've used as I do get asked this a lot. Really it boils down to your budget and how serious you are about your practice and whether you only attend a class once a week or do a home practice as well.
My first yoga mat, was a towel on the carpet and it worked pretty well as it was an old towel that had been washed many times and was quite crispy. It had been washed to perfection for yoga!! New towel - didnt work and a mat had to be got.
My first mat was Nike mat. It was fairly thin and grey and had squares as the texture on it. It worked a treat and lasted many years of teaching. Couldn't get the same one again and wouldn't be able to say what Nike mats are like today. I'd be tempted to try one again if I was passing one by in a shop..
Next came a standard Tescos mat and again, their first yoga mats were brilliant - cheap and grippy, they even had some yoga postures on them. They of course changed them and they were terrible thereafter and I wouldn't try one again.
As a standard, fairly cheap yoga mat, you cant go wrong with the standard sticky yoga mat from Yogamatters. They start off a bit slippery just because of protective oils on them but given enough use they soon get a grip. Also I have found that leaving them out hung over the sofa helps to make them dry out a bit. They come in a good range of colours and are a good budget price for a good quality mat. I often have these ones to sell at class and have used them as my spare mats for newbies for a long time now. Consistent quality and colours.
Now we move on to higher budget mats for those that do yoga more than once a week.
Lululemon travel mat. This as the name would suggest is very light and great for that and that only. Actually that's a little unfair as it does have a pretty good grip once your hot. It's smooth and doesn't have the usual yoga mat texture and can be slippy until you are warmed up. So the lightness of it and grip is okay but it's downfall is how much it scuffs and marks and those marks don't come off. So, I was glad that this was only the travel version and not the full expensive, heavy version as I would've been quite disappointed to have used it once and had it marked. I also since don't like the reputation of the company and some of the offensive remarks that the CEO has apparently said their clothing is not made for women of a certain size!
Someone left a Jade yoga mat a class once and never picked it up. This is how I discovered Jade Harmony mat. Wow! what a grip. It has such a good, tiny grained texture and is really good if you happen to be a sweaty hand person and also find that your hands are slipping on the mat (I could add in about activating your core a bit more here with that but......). I think the Jade Harmony mat is a great one to get if you are mostly going to be practicing on flat carpet as it does tend to move a little on shiny floors although I never used mine for teaching as it was fairly heavy so I only used it at home on carpet and just used a yogamatters one at class. They do pong a fair amount of rubber when you first get them, but so do a lot of mats but the Jade one is quite distinctive.
I then tried a Liforme mat because there was a discount on it, due a little oil mark on it at the Yoga Show. I would never have paid £100 for it because I dont care how good that mat is, it's a yoga mat and yoga has managed fine without a £100 mat for all these years. However if money is no option and you want a Rolls Royce Mat, here are some things to consider. Again, this is a smooth texture mat, like the Lululemon one and the warmer you get, the more grippy it gets. Sometimes too grippy, there are certain moves you might actually want a bit of slide on and to not blister your skin on your shoulder as you slide your arm under in Thread the Needle. Yes, this actually happened to one of my students who had one. She had little red marks on her shoulder afterwards. Want to wiggle your foot forward in half splits or full splits - no way.
Also if you do hot yoga or sweat a lot, drips and patterns of your sweaty shoulders will mark the mat and wont dry during class, so you are left with 'wings' on your mat. It marks easily and is not easy to wash as once its wet, it takes ages to dry and oil marks dont come off easily, if at all. The Yoga Show mark has never come off. I think it's too much to pay for mat that marks that easily and doesn't clean well. Again has a rubber pong when new. Comes with its own bag and it is heavy!
Then in 2019 I kept seeing on Facebook teachers forums about mat reviews and Bmat kept coming up over and over and I was intrigues enough that I wanted to try it. So I opted for the Bmat Strong by BYoga, which is slightly thicker and longer than the average one I believe. It didnt come with its own bag which was a bit disappointing as it was still a big price for a yoga mat and after the Liforme one had its own bag, I thought this might.
On opening, again the distinct smell of new rubber but nothing offensive like some. The thing I instantly noticed was how much thicker it is and spongier. The colour I picked was purple (as usual) and it neither has a texture, nor is smooth like Liforme - it's somewhere in between. Grip wise in practice - nothing like it!!!!! It is magnificent. The best I have experienced so far on both the hands and the floor. The comfort is also the best I have ever had. It does mark easily but also it cleans really easily and comes up like new. It doesn't scuff easily and has just enough slide for something things to not cause blisters (yet).
I was thrilled when I opened up this mat. It ticked all the boxes by the look of it and then by the ease of use and comfort. If you practice more than once a week, in class or at home, this is my recommendation. If it's too expensive, request it as a present, or save up by giving up something unhealthy and put the money from that, out towards the mat. It will be your incentive to practice more by having this Rolls Royce mat. I have even used this mat outside on retreat and it got covered in little red spiders and moss and cleaned up like new.
There really isn't any bad things I can say about this mat after a year and half of using it.
I bought mine in the UK on a website called Trouva but I'm sure there are other stockists.
So in order that I would buy
1-BMat Strong by BYoga and if they stopped making it and I had to buy another then I would be hard to make a choice between Jade and Liforme but i think on cost and ease of clean, Jade would be number 2
I haven't tried Manduka mats but they also seem to have a good reputation and if anyone from the company wants to send me one to review - go for it!