They come in dozens of colors, materials, and brands, ensuring you have plenty of options. Some are cheap, while others feature surprisingly steep price tags.
But why are some mats so expensive? What makes them so different from others that they’re worthy of a $100+ price tag?
It comes down to a few things, including the material, sanitary design, grip, and brand. We’re here to explain, so stick around to learn more!
Do You Really Need A Mat For Yoga?
Technically speaking, you don’t need a mat for yoga. You can get by with a soft surface, like a carpeted floor, or a non-stretchy blanket on a harder surface. Those thick, cushy mats on the floors of some gyms will do, too.
Or, you could use a yoga towel, which offers similar perks to the yoga mat.
However, if you’re practicing yoga more than once in a while, we recommend investing in a yoga mat. While you could use the alternative methods as a cheaper option, a yoga mat is a wise investment for dedicated yogis.
So, if you’re practicing a couple of times per week (or more), we recommend buying a yoga mat.
Of course, you don’t need to spend an excessive amount on a mat. You can always stick with a cheaper option until you’re ready or want to buy a more expensive, higher-end mat.
How Expensive Should A Yoga Mat Be?
Most yoga mats cost between $30 and $100, although some mats are far pricier than that. You can find mats cheaper than $30, but they’re usually of poorer quality than their more expensive counterparts.
The cost of the mat hinges on several factors, like the brand, thickness, and material. If you’re new to yoga and are unsure whether you’ll pursue it in the long term, you might be better off investing in a slightly cheaper mat.
While more affordable mats won’t last nearly as long, they’re not a significant investment that will be useless if you decide you don’t want to do yoga.
Conversely, if you’re an experienced yogi who practices more regularly (or have plans to train up to this), you’ll likely be better off investing in a better-quality mat. These mats often last longer and may even come with a quality guarantee or replacement option, so they’re well worth it in the long run.
Here are some affordable mats on Amazon:
Why Are Yoga Mats So Expensive?
Not all yoga mats are expensive. After all, you can find yoga mats for $20 or less. But if you want a good-quality mat built to last, you’ll likely pay a pretty penny. Here are the main reasons why some yoga mats are so expensive:
The material of your yoga mat plays a vital role in the final price of the product. Certain materials are cheaper than others, so there’s a clear divide between expensive and cheap mats.
For example, cheap yoga mats are often made of polyvinyl chloride foam (PVC), which is inexpensive and lightweight. While cheap, PVC is not nearly as durable as other options, so it deteriorates quite rapidly, especially under regular use.
More expensive yoga mats are usually made of pricier materials, like jute, recycled rubber, or organic cotton. These materials are a go-to pick for many high-end yoga mat brands, as they’re far more sustainable than other materials and last much longer.
They hold up well under heavy use, making them an excellent pick for your yoga sessions. When they tire out, you can recycle the materials again to make other products, making them a much more eco-friendly choice.
As you shop for a yoga mat, you’ll see yoga mats of varying thicknesses. You can find cheap mats in all thicknesses, and the same goes for expensive mats. However, most high-quality mats are at least ⅛-inch thick or thicker.
The thickness of the yoga mat provides a durable, cushioned area for practice, with each thickness having its place in the lineup. Generally, thinner mats are ideal for active styles of yoga, like Ashtanga or Bikram yoga, as they’re pretty flat and won’t affect your balance.
Conversely, thicker mats are ideal for relaxed yogas, like Yin or Restorative yoga, as the cushioned surface provides a supported base for your tailbone, knees, and spine.
More expensive yoga mats usually offer the perfect balance between thickness and function. They typically feature enough cushioning to provide support but are thin enough not to throw off your balance.
While some yoga classes move along at a turtle’s pace, leaving you relaxed and content, others challenge you to keep up, moving through sequences at a sweat-inducing pace. These sessions often result in quite a bit of sweat, leaving behind dribbles of exertion as you power through the class.
Since a sweat-soaked mat is a perfect place for bacteria to take up residence, a yoga mat with a sanitary design is essential. While cleaning will do the trick, the best yoga manufacturers have thought of everything.
To prevent users from having to deep clean their mats after every sweat-soaked session, yoga mat manufacturers designed mats with antimicrobial properties. The mats are designed to minimize the growth of bacteria by using closed-cell mat designs.
Open-cell mats, which are usually cheaper, feature a more porous design, which allows water, sweat, and other bodily fluids to seep into the mat. These mats are surprisingly absorbent, so a quick wipe-down after class won’t eliminate the built-up moisture.
You’ll need to clean your mat more thoroughly to get rid of the bacteria-friendly buildup.
However, with a closed-cell design, the mat is far less porous than its open-cell counterparts. Instead of absorbing large amounts of liquid, the mat absorbs less, eliminating the high possibility of bacterial growth.
Of course, bacteria will still grow in and on a closed-cell mat if you don’t clean it regularly, but these mats are more impervious to bacterial growth.
Some yoga mats offer better grip than others. In most cases, the expensive yoga mats far outweigh their comrades in this category, offering superior grip (even with sweaty hands). Cheap mats are usually made of PVC, which slides around more easily than other materials.
The slippery material leaves you slipping and sliding through your yoga session, preventing you from getting a good, stable grip in certain poses. On top of that, these mats may stretch as you move, causing you to slide out of position.
Conversely, pricier yoga mats usually feature a higher-quality material with a superior grip. The mats are designed to be slip-proof and offer better grip, even when your hands and feet begin to sweat.
Many of the high-quality mats feature a performance dry grip design to ensure you stay planted even when you start to sweat.
Considering the importance of good grip, especially in grounded or supported poses, yoga mats with grippy materials are essential. Otherwise, you open the door to injury, as a quick, unexpected slip could send you crashing to the ground.
Like most products, yoga mats from certain brands are pricier than others. A few premium brands, like Manduka or Yohala Yoga, offer pricier mats. Of course, these mats have a leg up over the competition due to the factors listed above, but they’re still notably pricier than others, which likely has something to do with the brand name.
Are Expensive Yoga Mats Worth The Cost?
The steep price for some yoga mats is questionable, especially if you’re new to yoga. After all, who wants to pay $100 (or more) for a yoga mat you’ll use occasionally? Not us! But if you plan to practice yoga regularly, a high-quality yoga mat is well worth the cost.
As mentioned, expensive yoga mats are usually much more durable than cheaper mats. Since they’re usually made of higher-quality materials, they withstand regular practice much better.
While more inexpensive mats made of PVC often shed tiny bits of material after just a few sessions, high-quality mats offer excellent durability.
Expensive mats often last for years, even under regular use. Sometimes, expensive mats come with lifetime guarantees. So, when your mat taps out after hundreds of yoga sessions, the brand will replace it with a new one.
In many cases, pricier mats are usually more eco-friendly. This is often due to their composition, as many high-quality, expensive mats are made of more sustainable materials. For example, instead of PVC, a common material for cheap mats, expensive mats might be made from biodegradable natural tree rubber or something similar.
In addition, many of the brands offering more expensive options are more conscious of their carbon footprint. Even if the mat isn’t listed as an eco-friendly option, it might still be better than cheap, definitely-not-eco-friendly alternatives.
For example, Manduka’s yoga mats that don’t feature an eco-friendly label are composed of high-quality PVC, which is manufactured emissions-free and guaranteed for life. So, even though the material isn’t the most eco-friendly option available, it’s built to last, resulting in fewer mats ending up in landfills.
Okay, this one sounds far-fetched – after all, how can a more expensive mat be cost-effective in the long run? But before you dismiss the idea altogether, hear us out. In many cases, cheaper mats don’t last nearly as long and are far less durable than their expensive counterparts.
Given the lack of durability and a shorter lifespan, you’ll likely spend more money replacing your mat regularly after a year or two than you would by investing in a better-quality mat.
On top of that, some expensive yoga mats come with a lifetime guarantee, meaning you can get a replacement (sometimes at no charge!).
So, if you plan on practicing for many years to come, investing in a more expensive yoga mat is usually the more cost-effective route.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are Manduka Yoga Mats Worth It?
Manduka yoga mats are some of the priciest yoga mats available on the market, with most costing well over $100. If you’re an avid yogi, they can be well worth the investment. They’re built to last, featuring a closed-cell design and a lifetime guarantee.
However, if you don’t think you’ll practice yoga very often, a Manduka yoga mat might not be a wise investment for you, as the steep price and infrequent use don’t match.