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
Lifeform Yoga Mat
While, at the time of this writing, this is a pricey yoga mat, you get what you pay for in this case. Its highly absorbent and doesn’t leave any sweat pooling on the surface. It’s made from a recyclable natural rubber on the bottom which is very durable. The top layer is made from polyurethane which is why its absorbent and eliminates the need for a towel – plus it gets even grippier with sweat and heat.
Its 4.2 mm thick which is about the thickness of an average mat but its super dense so you don’t feel the floor as much. Further, it weighs about 5.5 lbs which isn’t very much for a natural rubber mat of this size.
The surface is a closed cell which means cleaning is a breeze. You can easily spray or wipe it down after class and be done in about two minutes. One thing I like about the mat is that it doesn’t curl at the top. When you plop it down, its firmly planted and doesn’t move unless you pick it up. And in regards to stickiness, it has a great grip that only increases when you sweat and heat up.
The only dislikes with this mat are that, when you get water or sweat on the it, it changes color in that area. However, this goes away once the mat dries out.
- Very high quality materials that keep grip and prevent slipping for even heavy sweaters
- Extra long and wide – 73 x 27 inches so even the tallest person has plenty of room
- Currently offered in 4 great colors
- Alignment markings on the mat help you know where to stand and stay centered throughout class
- Super sweat absorbent
- Natural rubber and polyurethane combination provide great cushioning
- Closed cell surface is easy to clean
- Sticky grip that increases with heat/sweat but doesn’t interfere when changing positions
- Changes color when wet
- At the time of this writing, its an investment
- May not be thick enough for those with highly sensitive joints
The Combo Yoga Mat
The Combo Mat by Design Lab (as of the time of writing) is an affordable option that offers high quality anti-slip properties. It’s made from a natural rubber base with a microfiber top. The microfiber top layer can absorb a significant amount of sweat without losing any grip and lightens the weight of the mat to only 4.1 lbs.
What I like about this mat is that the microfiber is actually made from recycled water bottles and the bottom is a natural rubber. Also, the inks used in the mat are all body friendly and won’t fade so its earth friendly in every way.
The thickness of the mat is only 3.5 mm which is relatively thin so you feel the ground beneath you. However, the natural rubber bottom is a dense material so it provides good cushioning considering its modest thickness.
Since the surface is microfiber, its neither closed or open cell but its easy to clean anyway because its machine washable (hang dry). While some people have expressed problems with slipping, the overwhelming majority have no such problems. The grip tends to get better when you sweat so it can help to lightly dampen the mat just before class.
- Eliminates the need for a separate yoga towel
- Sweat absorbent and quick drying on top
- Made from natural rubber and recycled water bottles so its eco-friendly and durable
- Only weighs 4.1 lbs so its easy to transport to and from class
- Body friendly inks that don’t harm you
- Machine washable so you can easily toss it in the wash after class
- The towel is part of the mat so it doesn’t bunch or get in the way
- 3.5 mm thick may not be enough for those with sensitive joints
- Some people have had problems with slipping
Manduka eQua eKO Lite
Mandukas eQua mat is another combination mat built specifically for hot yoga. The top layer is constructed from a soft microfiber that’s able to absorb large amounts of sweat without leaving pools on top.
It’s 4 mm thick and 68 x 26 inches long and wide. The length and width are great since it buys you more personal space in a crowded room but the 4 mm thickness means you’ll feel the ground underneath you. However, the bottom layer is also made from natural rubber so its dense and provides decent cushioning for how thick it is.
Natural rubber is always open celled but the top layer is microfiber (neither closed or open cell) and its machine washable so you can easily clean it. One person did express slipping on the mat but didn’t specify if they were in a heated yoga class. Keep in mind that the top layer is moisture activated so its not a good fit for non-heated yoga.