We asked 7 leading teachers to pick their top yoga mats for travel, studio and home. Whether it's grippy, cushioned or eco you're after, these are the experts' tried-and-tested picks

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If you’re looking for the best yoga mat, who better to ask than a yoga teacher? We’ve tried them all, we’re pretty fussy and we all have our favourites depending on the style of yoga we teach. Sweaty vinyasa flow yoga such as Rocket Yoga (my style) demands grip and durability. If you practice a slower-moving style such as hatha yoga, restorative, yin and kundalini it’s more down to personal preference and comfort.

Most teachers will take sustainability into account when you ask them which yoga mat is the best, as the idea of non-harming (ahimsa) and not taking more than you need (aparigraha) are baked into yoga philosophy.

On the eco front, mats have come a long way in the last five years. Cheap but environmentally toxic PVC mats are on the wane in favour of eco PU (polyurethane that biodegrades) and TPE (thermoplastic elastomer a biodegradable plastic).

Generally, mats are now heavier than they used to be – for a good reason. These are the ones backed with natural rubber (check if it’s latex-free if you have an allergy). Rubber is hotter on eco credentials (depending on how it's sourced), it sticks to the floor better and can be topped with anything from vegan 'suede’ (microfibre washable fabric often with funky designs) to natural cork and the ultimate grippy eco PU.

Some brands are going the extra mile. Yogibare will recycle your old mat of any brand and give you 15 per cent of one of their grippy eco mats (they have a good selection).

When choosing a mat these are some factors to consider: does it absorb sweat or not? How washable is it (vegan suede will go in the washing machine, cork is naturally antibacterial)?  Will it biodegrade (the easier it biodegrades, the quicker it is likely to wear out)? How grippy is it (if you are a beginner, more grip is helpful)? Does it cushion enough if you have delicate knees or wrists? Is it too heavy to heave to the yoga studio and therefore better for home? Does it fold into your suitcase? How eco is it? Are the patterns distracting or helpful for alignment? Will you love it so much that it makes you want to do yoga more? Can you recycle it? Is it long enough (men and tall people often prefer longer mats)?

Our edit answers all of your yoga mat-buying questions – and these are the picks that please even the most discerning yogis.

Our yoga experts:

Victoria Woodhall

Amme Poulton Senior Rocket Yoga Teacher rajarocketyoga.com. Kathryn McCusker, kundalini, breathwork, meditation and sound healing kalmwellbeing.com. Victoria Woodhall Rocket Yoga teacher and GTG editorial director victoriawoodhall.com and @trinnywoodall. Imi Wiseman, co-founder Rocketbeats imi-yoga.co.uk. Kat Farrants, founder Movement for Modern Life movementformodern life.com. Genny Wilkinson-Priest, co-founder of Mission E1 mission-e1.com. Rosie Underwood Integrative Health Coach and yoga teacher rosieunderwood.com. Mercedes Sieff positive psychology coach, yoga teacher and co-founder Yeotown health retreats and restaurants yeotown.com.

Yogamatters Aqua Evolve Yoga Mat, £60

Best for: ultra-light weight. Recommended by: Rosie Underwood

“Nothing slips you out of your Zen more than a mat that won’t stick. I like my mats to be eco-friendly and – I won’t lie – to look good! As I’m running from clients to studios, I need something lightweight to protect my back," says Rosie. "This one is made from algae from lakes and ponds so it works to clean water and air, it's light, and  the print had me at hello!” 

It’s decently thick and bouncy for such a lightweight mat, because it’s 95.5 per cent EVA foam (ethylene vinyl acetate – a plastic but less toxic than PVC). The remaining 2.5 per cent is from algae and Yogamatters tells us it’s fully recyclable.

Thickness: 5mm. Weight: 0.8kg

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The Yogamatters Sticky Mat, £26

Best for: beginners, budget and Pilates too. Recommended by: Genny Wilkinson Priest

“I don't think you should spend a lot of money on a mat if you aren't sure that you are going to practice yoga regularly,” says Genny. “This basic one from Yogamatters does the job; it's got just enough cushion and the right amount of stick to do the job well enough for a beginner.”

Stickiness is important for a beginner. Until you learn to ground through your hands and feet more strongly you need a bit of extra grip from your mat.

“Practice on this for six months and then decide if you want to up your yoga game as well as your mat," says Genny.

In 11 colours, made from high-grade PVC and Oeko-Tex certified free of harmful chemicals, it's not biodegradable but is therefore really durable and machine washable. Once you are done, don’t send it to landfill. Try regifting or using the Yogibare yoga mat recycling scheme or donating to a community centre.

Weight: 1.4kg Thickness: 4.5mm

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Jade Yoga Harmony mat, £80

Best for: a mat upgrade
Recommended by: Imi Wiseman and Rosie Underwood

When you want to get into a proper relationship with a mat, the Jade Yoga Harmony is the way to go. In 14 colours, it’s the mat I most often see stocked in yoga studio shops and was one most mentioned by the teachers whose brains I picked for this feature, scoring both for performance and eco credentials. It comes in two lengths and widths.

Imi says: “It’s super-grippy and I defy anyone to slide on this even if you practice in a sweat lodge wearing a lot of hand cream. Jade is proud of its eco-friendly reputation (the mats are made out of natural rubber) and they plant a tree for every mat sold. In fact, with extra-long, extra-wide and extra-thick options, there’s no need to go anywhere else.”

The thickness is good and for a natural rubber mat it's not too heavy.

Thickness: 4.5mm. Weight: 1.4kg

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Manduka Pro, £120

Best for: durability, length and a ‘forever’ mat. Recommended by: Genny Wilkinson Priest, Kat Farrants, Victoria Woodhall

The mat of choice of Genny, a six-times-a-week Mysore-style ashtanga practitioner and Kat Farrants, both of whose Manduka Pro still going strong after 20 years of daily practice. And me! With a lifetime guarantee, it should never end up in landfill. As it’s made from non-biodegradable PVC (certified emissions-free and non-toxic) that’s a good thing. The makers suggest that you pass it on once you’ve finished with it. Says Genny: "This is the mother of all yoga mats if you practice ashtanga or vinyasa flow. It's well cushioned and extra long. Bloody expensive and seriously heavy, this is one quality mat that will last for years. I wipe mine daily with a cloth and spray that has a mixture of water and tee tree oil."

“Easily the best home mat out there – you’ll never have to buy another one," agrees Kat. The Manduka Pro’s closed-cell surface keeps moisture and sweat from seeping into the mat and breeding bacteria, making it a good and easily cleanable choice for hot yoga (although you may need a Yoga Mat Towel,  £30 or Mysore Yoga Rug, £73  if you sweat a lot). It’s not as grippy as the legendary Liforme, but sometimes (e.g. when working on your splits) you need a bit of slide too.

Thickness: 6mm. Weight 3.4kg

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The Ecoyoga Jute Mat, £47.95

Best for: eco credentials. Recommended by: Kat Farrants

“While I always practice at home on my trusty Manduka Pro [see above] it's too heavy to carry around. The best mat for travel or taking to a class is, without a doubt the Ecoyoga mat," says Kat. “It’s amazingly sticky but has zero PVC and is made in the UK. We’re practising yoga! This means a mindfulness, a consciousness of the impact of our decisions upon the planet and therefore each other. I love their natural texture and feel, they are completely non-slip. I love that they are made from entirely natural, plant-based materials and haven’t been shipped all the way from China (they’re made in the UK) which just can’t be good for our oceans and our climate, let alone our economy! They do wear out with a LOT of use, but I’m OK with that. Perfect for taking on retreats or to the studio. If you find it thin, use the studios mats underneath it and you’ll find it perfect.”

Weight: 2.1kg. Thickness: 4mm

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Manduka Eko Superlite travel mat, £50

Best for: foldable travel yoga mat
Recommended by: Victoria Woodhall

My travelling staple, I fold this 1kg mat into my hand luggage and takes up about the same space as a hand towel. Brilliantly, it always lies flat when I get it out again. I’m well used to a thin mat on hard floors when I travel, but it also sits well on carpet. I've also used it over yoga studio mats when I'm not convinced about how clean they are.  It’s tightly woven to resist tearing or stretching which can be an issue with thin, light travel mats and the closed-cell structure keeps sweat and bacteria out. Instead of using synthetic polyester for reinforcement, it uses a blend of polyester and natural cotton, latex-free rubber, is free from harmful dyes and is biodegradable. The complete travel package.

Thickness: 1.5mm. Weight: 1kg

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Liforme yoga mat, £110

Best for: stickability, alignment and status. Recommended by: Mercedes Sieff, Genny Wilkinson Priest, Victoria Woodhall

The super grippy Liforme mat is the status yoga accessory: “Hey, I’m a serious yogi, I have spent this much on a mat and it’s got fancy alignment markings and it looks great on the ‘Gram!”. I jest but as the owner of two Liformes (one for studio, one for home) I have totally drunk the Kool-Aid. They have a Spiderman-like grip, the quality of which has improved in recent the years. Designed by yogis, they are slightly longer and wider than a standard mat and come with a hard-wearing ventilated bag to help air the mat post-practice.

Mercedes Sieff uses these in her two Yeotown studios. “We’ve had ours for quite a while, the cushioning is very nice and the stickiness works really well in certain positions like downward dog," she says. “I find the alignment markings really helpful for beginners – and for all levels – so I can give them cues as to where to put their hands or their heels.

Careful cleaning with a damp cloth and heavily diluted washing-up liquid is recommended. They are made of natural rubber and eco-polyurethane, but due to their ‘open cell’ sweat-absorbing structure, they do mark easily, so a darker colour will stay fresher-looking for longer. They say it biodegrades in five years.

Weight 2.5kg. Thickness: 4.2mm

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Lululemon The Mat 5mm, £88

Best for: reversibility and cushioning. Recommended by: Amme Poulton

The 5mm is slightly thicker than standard mats, so this baby has cushioning for knees, hips and floor poses and has a simple design. Made of durable polyurethane and natural rubber (with latex) it has good stick and absorbs moisture and the fact that you can use both sides adds longevity. Be sure to air it when new for a good while to let the rubber smell dissipate. It also has what they call an 'antimicrobial additive' to help prevent bacterial mould and fungi.

Says Amme, "I like the different textures on each side. Colour and design are also important. I shy away from any fussy patterns. Vertical lines, particularly one vertical line in the middle (which you can draw with a marker) is helpful, as everyone has a left and a right. Any more placement cues on a mat don't work on my opinion, as all bodies are different shapes and sizes.”

Thickness: 5mm. Weight: 2.4kg

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Yogibare Ever Grip Paws Mat, £80

Best for: trading in your old mat. Recommended by: Victoria Woodhall

“I love this female-founded British brand that supports mental health initiatives and combines performance with eco creds. The new Ever Grip range is its stickiest yet and comes in four earthy colours (I love the Desert Rose, above) with a few key, but unobtrusive, alignment lines. It’s the mat I universally recommend whatever style you practice, especially with their trade-in yoga mat recycling scheme, where you send your old mat of any brand and they give you 15 per cent off your new one. It has a PU upper and natural rubber vase and is biodegradable. 

Weight: 2.5kg. Thickness: 4mm

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DIYogi Super Grip mats, £109

Best for: kids and teens and customising. Recommended by: Victoria Woodall

A grippy mat you can draw on with brilliant stick and eco creds, it comes pre-stencilled with a mandala design or plain with stencils so you can freestyle with your pens. Like sun cream, the best yoga mat for kids and teens is the one they will use, so it’s nice to give them some agency in the design  (although it’s quite pricey for a kids' mat). I loved the grip of this for my own practice.

If you are looking for a kids' mat, microfibre-topped mats are also a good bet as as they come in all manner of designs and are washable. Many of the big brands do them (see  Amp below). Try also Downward Frog, £44 

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Amp Yoga Mat Natural Leopard Microfibre, £65

Best for: restorative yoga and kundalini yoga. Recommended by: Kathryn McCusker

Microfibre topped-yoga mats (or ‘vegan suede’) are antibacterial, washable, come in fun patterns and provide a lovely soft surface. You can use them for sweaty styles too as the fabric is sweat-wicking and gets grippier the more you sweat. Kathryn McCusker says, “Amp wellbeing mats are good for a bit more padding and support and this leopard print one fits well with the kundalini energy!”

Thickness: 4mm. Weight: not given  but similar styles weigh 2.5kg

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Yogamatters Eco Cork Yoga Mat, £65

Best for: a natural look and feel. Recommended by: Rosie Underwood

Cork yoga mats (cork on top, rubber underneath)  bring the outside in and feel pleasantly warm underfoot. Says Rosie Underwood: “I love cork not just because it matches the neutrals in my home, but because cork bark is naturally antibacterial. After a day of teaching back-to-back, I can relax knowing that my mat is less likely to have picked up any germs. The grip is great and - you can spray water into it to improve grip too - and it’s made sustainably!”

Thickness 4mm. Weight: 2.5kg

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