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The 7 Best Thick Yoga Mats, According To A Yoga Instructor

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By Maria Cassano
Updated: 
Originally Published: 
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If you've ever felt the pain of a hardwood floor against your knees in table top pose, you've probably realized the importance of a well-cushioned foundation. “A thicker yoga mat may be beneficial to practitioners with knee issues,” Jacqui DeFlorio-Reid, certified yoga teacher and studio founder, wrote in an email to Elite Daily. “Some students also find that they offer more comfort for savasana as well as seated asanas.” Still, the best thick yoga mats aren't just about thickness; they combine all the features of a great yoga mat, including balance and slip resistance.

After a single full class on an unsupportive mat, you may be tempted to buy the thickest one you can find. Do yourself a favor and resist that urge: “One must be mindful that thicker yoga mats may impede their ability to feel more stable in balancing postures,” DeFlorio-Reid wrote. “Some thicker yoga mats are actually very ‘squishy,’ almost like a Tempur-Pedic mattress, [and] this can actually invite injury, especially in standing asanas.”

Yoga practice is meant to ground you so there needs to be some stability underneath you in order to create a strong foundation, especially for balancing poses. For that reason, the best thick yoga mats strike a middle ground between comfort and solid support. According to DeFlorio-Reid, “A cushioned yoga mat doesn't need to be [that] thick if the materials create a firmness. This denseness may lend some mats to be heavier than others, but their ability to support one in the asana should be of greater importance.” Lastly, “In addition to the thickness I also like to check for grip,” DeFlorio-Reid added, which allows the “student to feel stable on their hands and feet,” even if they’re sweating.

So, how thick should your yoga mat be?

A standard yoga mat is usually around 1/8 inches thick (or 3.17 millimeters). Anything over that is considered "extra-thick," but be careful — manufacturers toss this phrase around for basically anything over 3 millimeters, so check your measurements before you buy. If you're not sure where to start, these seven yoga mats ease the pressure on your knees, spine, and wrists without compromising on grip or balance. The first is a recommendation from DeFlorio-Reid, and the last six have rave reviews from real yogis.

01
The Expert-Recommended Yoga Mat: Jade Yoga Mat
  • Thickness: 4.83 millimeters (0.19 inches)

Pros: “I recommend Jade Yoga Mats for a number of reasons,” DeFlorio-Reid wrote. “They are eco-friendly and participate in programs that support the environment, such as ‘buy a mat plant a tree,’” too — but it’s not just about social impact: The Jade Harmony mat is made from natural rubber, which is dense enough to provide ample cushioning, but “rarely impedes a yoga student from practicing balance postures.” Last but not least, according to DeFlorio-Reid, “the grip on Jade mats is one of the best I have experienced and many of the Om Tara students preferred these mats over most others.” Get it in two different lengths and six colors.

Cons: This yoga mat isn’t cheap (longer versions in certain colors can run you upwards of $100). That said, it’s a worthy investment that lasts, according to past buyers who’ve given it a 4.7-star overall rating on Amazon.

According to a yogi: “I always appreciate the grip and stability of these mats. The thickness helps protect my knees and provide more cushion than other mats I've used over time.”

02
The Fan Favorite: Gaiam Extra-Thick Yoga Mat
  • Thickness: 6 millimeters (0.23 inches)

Pros: The Gaiam yoga mat has well over 15,000 reviews, with shoppers commenting on how it's "so much more comfortable" than other mats "because of the added thickness," but it's "not too squishy that it would mess up balance." It also has a nonslip, extra-traction surface, a non-toxic PVC construction, and more than 30 unique and colorful patterns to choose from — all for less than $30. This mat even comes with a free downloadable yoga routine to get you started with your practice. No wonder it's the top pick for so many people.

Cons: Some reviewers noted that it’s not the most nonslip right out of the box, but it gets grippier with use.

According to a yogi: "I love this mat, it's the perfect thickness. I can still balance on one foot and my ankle doesn't hurt when in pigeon pose or knees don't hurt when on knees."

03
A Budget Pick With A Bonus Knee Pad: Everyday Essentials Extra-Thick Mat
  • Thickness: 12.7 millimeters (0.5 inches)

Pros: This affordable option has enough padding to protect your knees, spine, elbows, and wrists on virtually any floor during any kind of workout and even comes with a bonus knee pad (which you could also place under your hands, elbows, and hips). It's thick enough to absorb impact should you fall out of a pose, and it's designed with nonslip ridges to better grip your hands and feet as well as the floor underneath it. Since it's moisture-resistant, it's also easy to wipe clean with a wet towel. It even comes with a free carrying strap.

Cons: Because it's essentially half an inch of foam, it's not the best for balancing poses. Some reviewers also note that the traction could be better.

According to a yogi: "I got this to alleviate the pain on my elbows from doing planks. It's done just that! Perfect thickness!"

04
The Best For Sweaty Hands & Feet: Gaiam Dry-Grip Yoga Mat
  • Thickness: 5 millimeters (0.20 inches)

Pros: Most thick mats can get pretty slippery. The Gaiam Dry-Grip yoga mat, on the other hand, was designed to stand up to sweat. It features a stay-dry top coat that wicks away moisture, and it only gets grippier the hotter and damper it gets. Plus, the closed-cell construction helps with the germs and odor that can build up during a steamy session of hot yoga.

Cons: It's one of the least thick options on this list, so won't provide quite as much cushioning, but most reviewers report that it does the job.

According to a yogi: "This yoga mat is wonderful. Thick enough to cushion my knees, but not so heavy as to be hard to carry around, and is sticky in room-temperature or hot yoga situations (even after it gets wet)."

05
The Thickest: Crown Sporting Goods Yoga Cloud Mat
  • Thickness: 25.4 millimeters (1 inch)

Pros: This pick from Crown Sporting Goods has earned the name "The Cloud Mat," but unlike your typical thick mats, it's made from a high-density foam that resists squishing and sinking. It has horizontal ridges to prevent slipping, a shock-absorbing consistency to reduce discomfort, and a bonus shoulder strap for hassle-free travel to and from your yoga classes. "Incredible," one buyer writes, "especially for someone like me with bad knees," while another reports: "Thick enough [to protect] my elbow that I injured."

Cons: During more advanced balancing poses, you'll likely have to move this mat aside entirely — the foam is too thick to provide a stable surface for poses like tree, chair, and crow.

According to a yogi: "I love this! Very thick and supportive. The kind of foam that doesn't just squish to nothing--it gives a little and supports your weight. Feels cushy even when just on my knees. Buy this!"

06
An Extra-Thick Jute Mat That’s Great For Heat & Sweat: Lottus Life Natural Jute Yoga Mat
  • Thickness: 8 millimeters (0.31 inches)

Pros: The Lottus Life yoga mat feels like memory foam underneath your body, but it has a natural jute fiber-covering on top. This not only provides grip and stability but it "doesn't seem to interfere with [reviewers'] balance" because it creates a floor-like surface that won't sink down into itself. Since it's almost like a fabric, it also absorbs moisture well, so it's a good choice if you sweat a lot during your practice or enjoy hot yoga.

Cons: This one's definitely on the pricier side. Since it's a woven fiber, the jute might also feel prickly when you first get it, but it smooths out over time.

According to a yogi: "The padding is just perfect; not to thick to loose balance but thick enough for comfort. Definitely would recommend this product for anyone who likes floor exercises, yoga or stretching."

07
A Thicker Mat From The Cult-Favorite Brand: Manduka Begin Yoga Mat
  • Thickness: 5 millimeters (0.19 inches)

Pros: Manduka is one of the most trusted and beloved brands in yoga, but the brand’s Pro mats can feel too thin for a novice. Luckily, the Manduka Begin mat was made with the beginner in mind. Made with natural tree rubber, the high-density, closed-cell surface is textured with tiny raised dots for traction, but it also has a second textured layer underneath for extra comfort and support. This one's even made with an alignment stripe down the middle, so you can ensure proper positioning and centering.

Cons: Since it comes at a much more affordable price point, this one isn't nearly as durable as other Manduka mats. It's also not as grippy as some reviewers would like.

According to a yogi: "Great mat. Not so thick you lose your balance but not so thin that your feet or back hurt during floor poses."

Expert:

Jacqui DeFlorio-Reid, certified yoga teacher and studio founder