If you're a regular hot yogi, then a quality mat is an absolute must. It’s the one tool that you’ll use every day and forms the foundation for a quality practice. Unfortunately, not all mats are created equally and the one that your friend loves might not work for you. With that in mind, we’ve outlined several of the best mats for hot yoga and given some tips on how to choose one so you can make a decision based on your needs.
What Makes a Great Hot Yoga Mat?
Hot yoga demands something different than the standard cheap yoga mat you could use in a normal class. For starters, you’ll want something that you won’t slip on - that’s a given. But there’s a few other factors to consider before making your decision.
It Has to Absorb Buckets of Sweat
In hot yoga you’ll work up a serious sweat which can leave slippery pools on your mat. So you have a few options. For one, if you already own a yoga mat you love, then you can buy an additional towel. We recommend the Yogitoes towel by Manduka (reviewed here).
Alternatively, if you know you’ll be dedicated to hot yoga, then I recommend getting an absorbent hybrid mat. These mats are just like having a yoga towel that’s built in and they’re generally easy to clean. The Lifeform yoga mat is our favorite for hot yoga, but there are other options if you’re on a budget. Either way, getting a mat or towel that’s highly absorbent and won’t lose grip is a must.
It Should be Comfortable - But Not Too Thick
Hot yoga’s an active exercise and you’ll be up and down quite often. If you suffer from sensitive joints the heat will help, but having a thicker yoga mat can also alleviate pressure and discomfort on your joints. That being said, if you need a thicker mat, I advise choosing a denser material. A thick and squishy mat will indent too far and may interfere with your balance. Opting for a dense, thick material will provide great cushioning for your joints without throwing you off balance.
You Want Something That's Easy to Clean
Speaking of cleanliness, having a closed cell mat is easier to clean. Close cell simply means that your mat is not porous and therefore won’t absorb sweat, dirt and bacteria into itself. This means that you can pretty much spray it off and wipe it clean after class.
An open cell mat on the other hand, is porous. These pores can get sweat and dirt into them which makes a great home for bacteria to grow. But you can get around this by cleaning it after every class with a decent mat cleaner (or make your own) and doing a deep clean once a week. The regular cleaning process shouldn’t take you longer than 5 minutes and the deep clean is basically just soaking it in the tub with some vinegar - so it's not a big deal. But you should keep this in mind if you know you want a super low maintenance mat.
It Needs be Sticky
If you’ve ever used a regular mat in hot yoga then you’ve probably experienced a decent amount of slipping. And slipping takes ALL the fun out of class. Most of the mats designed for hot yoga are designed to prevent slipping - although they perform at varying degrees. A quality hot yoga mat should become stickier as you sweat and heat up more. A good yoga towel will do the same thing.
Pro Tip: To keep your mat sticky/increase it's stickiness, clean it regularly and never use any soap that has conditioners in it (this applies to both your mat and yoga towels). They add a film to your mat/towel which basically ruins the grip entirely.
Why Not Use The One at The Studio?
If you're on a budget and can’t afford a mat right now, you can absolutely use the mat at your studio. However, you should keep in mind that someone was just sweating puddles on that mat and if your studio doesn’t clean them after every use, there’s going to be a ton of bacteria on that mat. You can get around this temporarily by getting a cheap yoga towel and putting that over the mat until you can get your own.
The Best Yoga Mats for Hot Yoga
While you can get away with a standard yoga mat and towel, having a dedicated hybrid hot yoga mat can be a game changer for your practice. Our favorite hot yoga mat overall is the Lifeform.
It performs well in any yoga environment but exceptionally well in hot yoga. The thickness is perfect for most people, its relatively light weight, has a closed cell surface which is super easy to clean, its highly absorbent and the grip increases with heat and sweat. In my opinion its the best mat for hot yoga and one you'll be happy to have.