If you’re a bit of a yoga bunny and it's starting to take its toll on your joints, then investing in one of the best thick yoga mats might be exactly what you need.
While the exercise is meant to keep our muscles healthy, sometimes using the best yoga mats is not enough to protect our joints and we need a thicker option for a bit of extra comfort and support.
While for many people yoga mats all look the same, when you actually start to look into the features you realise there are a lot of differences. What makes the best yoga mats becomes highly personal. For example, you might have an allergy or a desire to avoid certain materials, or perhaps you need one of the best yoga mats for kids. Or maybe the right mat for you is an extra thick one, for padding and support.
We’ve hunted down the best thick yoga mats in this guide. Our top pick is the Gaiam Premium Mandala 6mm yoga mat. Not only is it a good price point, but it’s free from any nasty toxins, grips well and is lightweight enough to carry to and from the gym. Our full review is below.
How many mm thick should a yoga mat be?
Yoga mats, just like us, come in all shapes and sizes, which is why picking the right yoga mat for you is essential. And whether you’ve just got into yoga for beginners or have been practising for years, the equipment you use to practise yoga can make a big difference. Not only can the comfort of a thicker yoga mat keep you focused while meditating, but the extra thickness can help take pressure off joints.
Standard yoga mats are usually around 3mm, which help you connect to the floor. Thick yoga mats are usually over 5mm. Thicker mats often mean you’re less connected to the floor, so not as suitable for high-energy moves, such as skipping, where you need to make sure your feet land firmly and correctly. But these are great for protecting joints when working out, which is especially important if you’ve discovered the benefits of fitness or yoga later in life or are looking to improve your posture.
“A thick yoga mat will provide extra comfort and support for people with sensitive knee, ankle and hip joints,” says Jamie Kent, founder of Yoga Download. “They also support inversion poses, where sensitive neck muscles are sometimes weight-bearing. This includes yoga postures such as headstand and shoulder stand. Thick mats can also provide extra comfort for more passive yoga styles, such as Yin Yoga and Restorative, where poses are often on the ground and are held for two to five minutes or longer.”
The best thick yoga mats to buy right now
Looking for something both squishy and stylish? Gaiam really deliver on comfort when it comes to their yoga mats, and this pick from their Premium range is no exception. Producing quality and durable buys is the reason they have been a leading yoga brand for quarter of a century, so it’s a great choice for both beginners and more experienced yogis. While it’s nowhere near as expensive as some of the rubber varieties of yoga mats on the market, this one still offers stability and grip, thanks to the PVC material.
There are no nasty phthalates, making it safe for the whole family to use and, if this bold, purple design isn’t quite right for you, there are plenty of others in the range, including Citron Sundial (grey and yellow), Marrakesh (blue) and Metallic Sunset (dark red).
Looking for a durable mat that will last, literally, a whole lifetime? Step forward, the Manduka Pro. It’s called Pro for a reason – because it’s a serious piece of kit, with a serious price tag, which will really suit hardcore yogis. In fact, your grip will get better each time you use it, which is why Manduka likes to say “practice makes a PRO”.
For something so expensive, it may be slightly annoying that you have to break it in first, but the recommended salt-scrub wipe down before use definitely helps to improve grip. Made with PVC, it holds well to the floor, has no chemical smell and, as it’s heavy, it won’t curl up at the ends. If this one ticks all the right boxes for you but you are taller than average, there’s also a 215cm version available, with the same high spec.
For beginners learning to meditate at home, it’s essential to feel comfortable and relaxed, which makes this thick yoga mat a must-buy. Otherwise, your mind can easily drift and suddenly you’re focusing on the floorboards, rather than your inner zen! At 6mm, this is definitely spongy and comfortable enough, plus the embossed blue and purple “dreamer” design goes a long way to help you de-stress.
Being a budget buy, this is made from lightweight PVC. While this gives the benefit of being easy to carry around (especially as it comes with a free strap), it does mean the grip isn’t quite as good as some of the more expensive options. If material is important to you, you may want to upgrade to one of Myga’s vegan suede range, but for beginners who want to start the day with a morning stretch, it’s the perfect pick.
Made from eco-friendly foam that’s free from toxins and nasties, at 8mm this is the spongiest buy in our round-up of the best thick yoga mats. So, it’s no wonder it’s been specially designed for people who want extra support when doing a workout. If your joints make you scream out in pain when pressing too hard against the floor, it’s the optimum buy.
But, unlike some extra-thick options, this is still stable enough that you’re not bouncing around when trying to balance. You really do get value for money here. With a reversible design, you can choose which side you use, depending on where you are. One side has deeper grooves to stop it slipping on the floor, while the other is textured to help make sure hands and feet can grip.
You might be wondering why a yoga mat that’s only 4mm is included in a round-up of the best thick yoga mats. That’s because, thanks to a clever air pocket layer, this premium yoga mat actually feels a lot thicker than it really is. In fact, it feels like it’s at least 6mm. The fibrous air pocket layer sits under the closed-cell top layer, which is great for grip and stopping bacteria being absorbed. But, because it’s made from natural rubber, instead of being too foamy, this mat has a “harder” surface, making it ideal for balancing poses, especially headstands.
Other benefits include a laser-etched animal print design, which has been positioned to help alignment. Yes, it’s expensive, but this one does come with a choice of free carry strap or yoga towel, making it much more affordable. Be warned, though – these regularly sell out, so you may have to pre-order to make sure you get one!