How thick should your yoga mat be? A detailed guide
So, you're ready to buy a new yoga mat, but have no clue where to start? There are different materials, different thicknesses, heavy or lightweight, anti-slip layers.. It can be a little overwhelming if you're just starting your yoga or workout journey. Not to fear, we're here to help you out!
A yoga mat should be bought with the intention of using it for a long period of time. You therefore want to make sure it's exactly what you need. Your yoga mat is much more than just a layer between you and the ground, it's an essential piece of equipment for most yoga, Pilates or home workouts and will help in cushioning your joints during your practice and provide you with grounding support.
The level of thickness of your mat greatly determines the amount of support and cushioning you will feel during your workout. A yoga mat that's too thin will cause discomfort in your joints (knees, ankles, wrists) when doing certain poses or movements. On the other hand, a mat that’s too thick will cause instability during your workouts and can slow down your flow between movements.
In this blog we'll discuss the different thicknesses available on the market for yoga mats and the pros and cons of each. If you want more information on which materials are best for yoga or workout mats, and specifically which eco-friendly yoga mat materials are the best, read our blog on how to pick the best eco-friendly yoga mat.
Thin Yoga Mats
Thin yoga mats, also known as travel yoga mats, can be as thin as 1.5mm (1/16 inch). As the name suggests, these yoga mats are made for the functionality of being able to take them with you when you travel. Their thinness makes them easy to roll up and great to carry anywhere you go. The downside, however is that due to their limited thickness they cannot provide a huge amount of cushioning for your joints, so if you use these kinds of mats on a hard surface, you may start to feel sensitivity in your wrists, knees and hips. All in all, thin yoga mats are great for a traveler lifestyle if you're able to put it on a softer surface: think of workouts or yoga on the beach, in the park or at home on a carpeted floor.
Standard Yoga Mats
Standard yoga mats are around 3mm (1/8 inch) thick. These mats provide an adequate amount of cushioning while still providing you with support and a grounding feeling. They are generally still relatively easy to take with you when you travel, depending on the material. If your yoga mat is made of natural rubber for example, which is a very dense material, they will be considerably heavier than if made from other eco-friendly materials such as TPE. We would not recommend getting a natural rubber yoga mat thicker than 3mm due to the sheer weight of the material.
Premium Yoga Mats
Premium yoga mats are around 6mm (¼ inch thick). These thicker yoga mats provide extra cushioning for a comfortable yoga practice or workout. Premium yoga mats are more agreeable when doing forearm and kneeling poses for yogis or home workouts with high impact exercises such as burpees and squat jumps. They provide a great level of cushioning and support for people with sensitive knees or achy joints. An issue some people pose with premium yoga mats is that they can be heavy or bulky to store or carry with you. Thankfully, this is not an issue with our eco yoga mats as they are made from TPE, an eco-friendly material that is extremely light (only weighing 850 g / 1.9 lbs) and durable. This makes it very easy to roll your yoga mat up and take it with you to your yoga class, especially if you've got a mat carrying strap.
Extra Thick Yoga Mats
Extra thick yoga mats are around 12mm (½ inch) thick. These mats provide the highest level of cushioning and comfort a yoga mat can give and are therefore a good mat to buy if you have serious joint or back pains and don't plan on taking your yoga mat with you for travel or to a yoga studio. Extra thick yoga mats are great for restorative exercises, but provide virtually no grounding or stability during your practice.
So, what is the best thickness of yoga mat?
All in all, when buying a new yoga mat and determining the best thickness, it really comes down to your personal preference. If you are just starting your yoga journey, we recommend steering clear of the thinner yoga mats and extra thick ones, finding the sweet spot of around 3-6mm in thickness. An important thing to take into consideration is what you are going to use the mat for. Are you solely looking for a mat for yoga? Then a standard mat may suffice. If you're a more advanced yogi, a thinner mat or travel mat might be enough for your yoga practice. Are you looking for a more premium feel and higher levels of comfort and protection? Are you going to use your yoga mat for stretching and home workouts? Then we would recommend a 6mm mat for the additional cushioning they provide.
Note: If you have an injury, joint sensitivity or are pregnant, it’s a good idea to consult with your yoga instructor or a medical professional before you buy your next yoga mat. A certain color or pattern mat may be alluring, but it's important that a yoga mat meets your needs and that you are comfortable using your mat for a long time. A good yoga mat is a worthwhile investment and can make or break your yoga, Pilates practice or home workout, so choose carefully and choose what's right for you.