Picking your brand-new yoga equipment can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the world of yoga.
To simplify things, let’s start with the perfect thickness. It comes down to factors specific to you, including joint concerns, travel preferences, yoga type, budget, and experience level.
Yoga Mat Thicknesses
While many yoga mats come in thicknesses between 4 and 5 millimeters, this thickness range isn’t your only option. There are four primary thickness categories: travel, average, thick, and extra thick.
When traveling, an ultra-thick yoga mat takes up precious space you might not have. So, yoga mat manufacturers rose to the occasion, producing an ultra-thin mat that works perfectly for traveling. These mats are usually between 1 and 2 millimeters, so they fold easily and compact into a much smaller footprint.
While these yoga mats are perfect for traveling, they’re not the best choice for regular practice, as they don’t offer any cushioning or support. Instead, they function more as a barrier between you and your practicing surface, whether it’s a hotel room floor or the grimy gym floor.
The average yoga mats feature a thickness between 4 and 5 millimeters, which is the most common of the bunch, as it offers decent padding without impacting balance or stability. Since these thicknesses are fairly versatile, these mats are the most commonly used option in all types of yoga.
These mats are a good choice for folks who don’t have joint concerns and prefer active yoga types, like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or Bikram yoga. The mat offers solid thickness, creating a barrier between you and the floor while providing a sturdy practicing surface that won’t detrimentally impact your balance.
You have plenty of material options for average mats, as some natural materials can’t be overly thick. For example, natural rubber and cork mats usually aren’t overly thick.
As the name implies, thick yoga mats are slightly thicker than your average yoga mat. Generally, they’re around 6 millimeters thick, but they can be anywhere between 5 and 6 millimeters thick. These mats are a staple for those seeking extra cushioning but don’t want an overly thick mat that will disrupt their balance.
Thick yoga mats offer the perfect blend of comfort and usability, allowing you to practice without feeling the floor beneath you and without sacrificing your balance or stability. The thickness doesn’t necessarily translate into softness, so these mats can still be fairly solid and feature performance dry-grip perks for extra stability.
While the thickness of these mats can be too much for some folks, they’re an excellent option for those who appreciate extra cushioning.
These yoga mats are the thickest of the bunch, offering impressive cushioning and plenty of comfort. They’re usually more than 6 millimeters thick, with some mats nearly one inch (about 25 millimeters) thick! Yin yoga, restorative yogas, and other grounding practices often utilize extra-thick mats.
These mats are ideal for people with sensitive joints, as the thickness offers the necessary support to keep painful joints comfortable. If you have sensitive joints, like wrists or knees, putting additional strain on them during your yoga class isn’t ideal and can lead to inflammation and additional pain.
By using an extra thick yoga mat, you can relieve pressure on those areas, giving your body the support it needs to comfortably complete the session.
However, while they work great for scenarios requiring extra cushioning, they’re not a suitable fit for more active types of yoga, such as Ashtanga or Bikram yoga. The cushioning can affect your balance, causing you to sway and wobble in standing balance poses, so the thicker mats aren’t ideal for practices that include those poses.
How To Choose The Best Mat Thickness
Choosing the best mat thickness isn’t as simple as grabbing the first option you see. Instead, it comes down to several factors specific to you, including joint concerns, practice type, experience level, and travel preferences.
Sore joints aren’t any fun, so when you’re choosing a yoga mat, it’s crucial to pick a mat that will accommodate your body’s individual needs. Folks with joint pain, arthritis, or similar conditions often choose thicker mats, as they provide essential comfort.
However, if you prefer active yoga types but experience joint pain, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pick the jumbo option with the most cushioning. A slightly thicker than average mat will do, like those in the “thick” category. The mat doesn’t necessarily have to be overly soft – you can find sturdy, thicker mats that will support you without throwing off your balance.
Your preferred yoga type is an essential consideration when choosing the perfect mat thickness.
For example, if you prefer yoga classes with a steady pace, keeping you moving and challenging your body through balanced poses and complicated holds, thinner mats are typically better. If you choose a too-thick mat, you might struggle to maintain your balance and remain steady throughout the session, so thinner is better.
This doesn’t always mean an ultra-thin travel mat – instead, it usually translates to an average yoga mat. There’s plenty of support without being overly thick.
On the flip side, maybe you prefer the slower approach, sticking to grounded sessions like restorative or Yin yoga. In these classes, thick mats are preferred, as they cushion your body as you move through the gentle flows and holds.
This might translate to an extra thick mat for some folks, but for others, the thick yoga mats might be perfectly fine.
Your experience level can help you pick the perfect mat thickness. Newbies dipping their toes into the pool of yoga might benefit from a slightly thicker mat, as the extra cushioning can be helpful. Of course, it hinges on your preferred yoga type, but the extra comfort can go a long way when acclimating to the practice.
Conversely, advanced yogis can usually practice almost anywhere, like on a rocky cliff, with a beautiful seascape with a breathtaking sunset stretched out behind them. They’re pretty adaptable and able to work on all sorts of surfaces. But even still, they usually appreciate some sort of cushioning.
The average thickness is ideal for advanced yogis, as it offers enough support without infringing on their stability or balance.
If you plan to take your yoga mat on the go, the travel mats are usually the best option. They’re thin enough not to consume precious space in your luggage, yet they’re thick enough to provide a sanitary barrier between you and your practice surface.
So, if you’re a wandering nomad who doesn’t stay in one place for too long, a travel mat might be the perfect option for you. Of course, there may come a time when a thicker mat is necessary, so you can always invest in another option when necessary.
Alternatively, you could buy a yoga towel for extra thickness when space allows. The towel can offer extra cushioning without requiring the purchase of an additional mat.
High-quality thick yoga mats tend to be pricier than their equally high-quality thinner yoga mats. Of course, you can find budget-friendly options in every thickness, but if you prefer mats built to withstand the test of time, you’ll probably pay more for a thicker mat.
So, Which Yoga Mat Thickness Is Best?
Like many things, yoga mats aren’t a one-size-fits-all product. Instead, they come in varying sizes, shapes, colors, and thicknesses to accommodate individual needs. So, while one yoga mat might work perfectly for you, it might not be the best fit for someone else.
The average thickness will likely be your best bet if you don’t have joint concerns and prefer active yoga types. Folks with joint problems who enjoy active yoga will probably benefit from a thick yoga mat (not the thickest), whereas folks with joint concerns and/or who prefer grounded yoga types will likely benefit from the extra thick mats.
But ultimately, the choice is yours! So, if you have itchy feet and love to be on the go, opt for a travel mat. Or, if you enjoy the luxurious comfort of an ultra-thick mat, pick one of them. Choose the option that best reflects your preferences, needs, and budget!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can A Yoga Mat Be Too Thick?
Yoga mats can be too thick, especially if you prefer faster-paced yoga types. The cushy surface can affect your balance and stability, throwing you off as you attempt to hold your favorite standing balance pose. So, yes, your yoga mat can be too thick. It all depends on what type of practice you’re doing.