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Cheap Yoga Mat Buying Guide

The big difference between cheap yoga mats and the upmarket variety mostly relates to durability. High-end yoga mats claim to last a lifetime and may be the only yoga mat you'll ever have to buy.

Cheaper mats, on the other hand, are sometimes thinner and need to be replaced more often. The serious yogi who spends time on the mat every day may want to consider investing in a pricier product, but for the average practitioner who attends a yoga class once or twice a week, a good cheap yoga mat will last quite a while and provide appropriate cushioning.

Sticky Mats, Eco Yoga Mats
Thick Yoga Mats, Long Yoga Mats
Yoga Mat Reviews

One critical feature to consider when shopping for a cheap yoga mat is its composition. PVC (polyvinyl chloride) has long been the material of choice due to its resilience, stickiness, and affordability. But PVC has also been associated with environmental concerns and health risks. Experts at BuyingYogaMats.com, say PVC yoga mats may release toxic chemicals and the production process harms the environment. The alternative -- so-called natural yoga mats made with rubber, latex, jute, or cotton -- are increasingly available but pose challenges of their own. The less expensive natural yoga mats may be less durable than the regular PVC variety, and, as experts note, some people are allergic to non-PVC materials like latex. Eco yoga mats are also more expensive to produce and often priced beyond the Cheapism niche. For the typical user, though, PVC mats are not a problem. Just know what you're buying and be aware of your own needs.

Seasoned yogis have probably heard of the Manduka and Lululemon mats, which sit at the high end of the yoga mat spectrum, costing between $60 and $100. At the cheap end, between $8 and $25, names like Yoga Accessories, Sunny Health and Fitness, Gaiam, Bean Products, and HuggerMugger are recognized brands. Our two favorite cheap yoga mats are Yoga Accessories Extra Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat (starting at $17) and Bean Products CleanPVC Eco Yoga Mat (starting at $13). Both are free of the chemicals and compounds that some practitioners object to, they're long and thick, and they're praised by users for their performance and value. Other good cheap yoga mat choices include the Sunny Health & Fitness Mat (starting at $9) and the Altus Athletic Altus Flower Mat (starting at $13), the former for its reliability and the latter for its soothing design and carry strap -- and both for their low prices. We're not enthused about the MiVizu Eco Friendly Anti Slip Yoga Mat (starting at $9) because of complaints about slipping or about the Natural Fitness Eco Yoga Mat (starting at $28) due to durability issues.

If you're tempted to save a few dollars by buying an exercise mat or using a sleeping bag pad, proceed cautiously. Although these alternatives may suffice for the practice of yoga (and we've heard tell), make sure the mat is sticky and dense enough to cushion your bones and joints.

In the event that a true yoga mat doesn't work out, put it to good use by recycling or repurposing. While doing our research we read reports of yoga mats being used as padding for carpets, as a non-slip surface for children's toys, or as simple cushioning for little ones learning to walk.

Sticky Mats, Eco Yoga Mats

The first issue to wrestle with before choosing a cheap yoga mat is figuring out what you want from it. Is durability your top concern? Do you need extra cushioning for your joints? Do you prefer eco yoga mats? Once you've answered these questions, you'll want to consider critical features like composition, length, thickness, and appearance.

Yoga Mat Composition.

When yoga became popular about a decade ago, says Yoga Mats Resource, most people used one kind of mat -- the standard sticky mat made of durable PVC foam. Still in wide use today, the best cheap PVC yoga mats we found are Sunny Health & Fitness Yoga Mat (starting at $9) and Altus Athletic Altus Flower Mat with Carry Strap (starting at $13). Recently, eco yoga mats made with non-toxic materials have been grabbing market share. So if you're not down with PVC, you can try environmentally-friendly options like Yoga Accessories Extra Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat (starting at $17) or Bean Products CleanPVC Eco Yoga Mat (starting at $13), which contain no heavy metals or phthalates (a substance that enhances the flexibility and durability of plastics) but perform as well as traditional PVC yoga mats. Other non-PVC mats we researched include MiVizu Eco Friendly Yoga Mat (starting at $9), Natural Fitness Eco-Yoga Mat (starting at $28), and Bean Products PER Yoga Mat (starting at $13).

Yoga Mat Stickiness.

Most practitioners prefer sticky mats, all the better for stable footing and hand placement (i.e. traction and balance). If you do a lot of hot yoga and/or perspire a lot, a non-slip surface is particularly important. All the yoga mats on our list are sticky. Still, some mats tend to lose their stickiness with repeated use. In fact, slipping/sliding, particularly in downward facing dog, is the most common complaint users have about their yoga mats. One reason we're hesitant about the MiVizu Eco Friendly Anti Slip mat is the proportionally greater number of user reviews grousing about insufficient slip-resistance.

The texture of a yoga mat also affects its stickiness, which in part is affected by its composition. PVC mats are comparatively smooth but still slip-resistant; still, the Altus Athletic Altus Flower mat boasts two textured sides. Non-PVC mats don't have much innate stickiness, so oftentimes the production process adds texture in the way of slightly raised bumps. The CleanPVC mat, for example, is textured on both sides, as is the Yoga Accessories Extra Thick Deluxe mat; the MiVizu Eco Friendly Anti Slip mat has a practice side and a floor side. Obviously, personal preference dictates whether you like the feel of a bumpy surface or not.

Yoga Mat Odor.

As any yoga practitioner can tell you, many mats smell, especially initially. Although odors almost always diminish with airing and washing, some cheap yoga mats, particularly those made with natural materials, are more likely to retain an odor. Some yogis don't mind the smells while others find them intolerable -- we read a few comments by practitioners who admit to being totally put off by the odor or being embarrassed in class -- so try to arrange a smell test before buying. User reviews indicate that the yoga mats on our list don't suffer from overwhelming or long-lasting odor problems.

Thick Yoga Mats, Long Yoga Mats

Yoga Mat Length.

The average yoga mat is 68 inches long, which is an acceptable length for most practitioners. Among the cheap yoga mats we researched, the Altus Athletic Altus Flower, Sunny Health & Fitness, Natural Fitness, and Bean Products PER yoga mats meet this standard. If you prefer a long yoga mat, not to worry: the CleanPVC and MiVizu Eco Friendly mats are each 72 inches long and the Yoga Accessories Deluxe mat unfurls to 74 inches. One six-foot tall yogi notes in a review on Overstock that the extra inches on the CleanPVC mat are most welcome, a sentiment dittoed by other users in reviews of long yoga mats. Bear in mind, though, that extra long yoga mats are harder to roll up and transport.

With the growing interest in yoga among children, shorter and lighter yoga mats have made their debut. The CleanPVC Yoga Mat is also available in a 60-inch version that starts at $15. Short yoga mats also work well for people with limited practice space and for shorter adults, and they make good travel companions.

Yoga Mat Thickness.

The majority of cheap yoga mats, including the Altus Athletic Altus Flower mat, Natural Fitness Eco Yoga Mat, and the Bean Products PER Yoga mat, are 1/8 of an inch thick; we could not find thickness specifications for the Sunny Health & Fitness mat. A few cheap yoga mats, like the Yoga Accessories Extra Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat, MiVizu Eco Friendly Yoga Mat, and CleanPVC Yoga Mat, double the fun with their quarter-inch thickness. That said, we came across some complaints in user reviews asserting that cheap yoga mats aren't always as thick as the marketing materials claim. Yoga Accessories prominently points out that its mat is a true quarter-inch thick.

But thick yoga mats aren't always better. Some people prefer a thinner mat that lets them feel closer to the ground, and experts at BuyingYogaMats.com note that balance may be more challenging on a soft, heavily cushioned mat. Moreover, users report that some thick yoga mats, like the MiVizu Eco Friendly Anti Slip mat, become imprinted with the shape of your hands and feet, which interferes with smooth transitions and stability. Experts at Best Health suggest you test out a mat for comfort before committing.

Yoga Mat Design.

Many yogis assert that the aesthetics of a yoga mat contribute to your energy and flow. In other words, the more comfortable you are with your mat, the more efficient and fluid your practice will be. Yoga is all about balance and a relaxed state of mind, and your environment, which includes your mat, affects the overall experience. Reviews on Amazon, for example, say the Altus Athletic Altus Flower Mat is particularly calming with its bluish-green background and floral print. For color choices that affect your conscious state, check out the CleanPVC, Yoga Accessories, and MiVizu Eco Friendly yoga mats. Although the colors range from vibrant to earthy, quite a few consumers comment in reviews on Overstock and Amazon that the colors shown online for the Clean PVC and Yoga Accessories mats aren't true to what shows up in the mat you receive.

Yoga Mat Reviews

Yoga mat reviews by experts and users indicate that many low-cost yoga mats are quite reliable and should hold up for countless yoga classes over a period of years. The key, reviewers say, is proper maintenance, which simply involves washing the mat occasionally (more frequently if you sweat often or use your mat for hot yoga classes). A mat's thickness is the subject of numerous comments in yoga mat reviews, as is stickiness. Although most users seem satisfied with the performance and pricing of the inexpensive yoga mats on our list, even the best cheap yoga mats garner their share of gripes about these two important issues.

Overall Performance.

Praise abounds for several of the yoga mats we researched. Scores of reviews of the Yoga Accessories Extra Thick Deluxe mat on Amazon rave about its quarter-inch thickness and 74-inch length. Practitioners report the cushioning protects their joints and backs, even when placed atop hard surfaces like cement slabs. The extra length of this mat appeals to many users, and one 5-foot-11 yogi reports that neither feet nor head ever hang over the edge. My Yoga Mats asserts there's just about the right amount of stickiness, and most users tend to agree. Some yoga mat reviews, however, report insufficient grip and say their hands and feet slide; on Yoga Accessories, one practitioner says running a belt sander over the surface resolved the problem. The CleanPVC Eco yoga mat is another longer- and thicker-than-average product that reviewers posting on Overstock say is easy on the joints and provides sufficient room to transition through varied positions. But here, too, we read a few reports about not enough grip and too much slipping, and some comments that the mat seems thinner than the specs indicate.

The two good cheap yoga mats on our list also earn mostly favorable reviews. The Sunny Health & Fitness mat is comfortable, lightweight, and sufficiently sticky, according to yoga mat reviews on Overstock. A few users wish this mat were thicker and longer, but others like its value-to-price ratio. As for the Altus Athletic Altus Flower mat, some reviews on Amazon say its 1/8-inch thickness seems too thin, while some commend the light weight and calming floral design. One user notes that it sticks to the floor while leaving hands and feet free to move, although another reports having to wear gloves to counter the slippery feel.

Assessments of the MiVizu Eco Friendly Anti Slip mat are split. Yoga Mat Review terms the stability and support adequate. Some users, commenting on Amazon, say the feel of the surface is just right -- no skidding, enough bounce. But others complain about slipping hands and feet and compression from your practice that takes a while to recover. Another eco mat we researched, the Natural Fitness Eco Yoga Mat, doesn't win over many fans. In yoga mat reviews on Amazon, users report that the mat doesn't lie flat or grip the floor well and is too thin for anyone with sensitive knees or back.

Yoga Mat Durability.

Many users report that their yoga mats provide years of service, but we also read reviews about mats that quickly begin to disintegrate. Yoga mat reviews say the Natural Fitness Eco mat scratches easily and sheds flecks while in use. One practitioner says the Altus Athletic Altus Flower mat fell apart after about half a dozen classes, and another reports a similar problem with the Sunny Health & Fitness mat. Users say that high-end eco yoga mats are often more durable than cheap PVC yoga mats, but cheap eco yoga mats may be less durable than the cheap PVC variety. One of the few yoga mat reviews of the Bean Products PER Yoga Mat that we were able to find grumbles on Amazon about its very limited durability. On the other hand, users say the CleanPVC Eco mat, made by the same company, is relatively long-lived.

Most mats don't need much attention outside of class but a few simple acts may help extend the life of your yoga mat. After finishing a session, wipe the mat down with a damp sponge or spray with a spritz bottle. Let it air dry and then roll; Yoga Mats Resource recommends rolling with the exercise surface on the outside to minimize the amount of curling when you next lay it out. If you detect an unpleasant odor when the mat is new, letting it air helps a lot, and some users recommend a bath with lemon juice and soap. A word of caution -- too much soap can deposit unwanted residue, so use sparingly, rinse thoroughly, squeeze out excess water, and lay the mat on a towel to dry. Yoga Mats suggests keeping your mat, especially the eco-friendly ones, away from direct sunlight. Don't store your mat in a hot car but do keep it in a cool, dry place. Also, it's not a good idea to walk or step on the mat with shoes.



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In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Yoga Mats
  2. Discount Yoga Mats Features Comparison Table
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