Which yoga mat thickness is best for you and why is thickness important?
A yoga mat is a personal preference and a healthy investment, especially if you choose to buy a good quality one. When shopping for a yoga mat, keep in mind there are many different yoga mats on the market and not all are created equal. There are yoga mats made from foam, rubber, bamboo, cork just to name a few and each come with their own style, length, density and thickness.
Yoga mats help keep us grounded, stable and support us during our regular practice. Having the right grip is critical as it allows for proper balance. Personally I found a poor grip meant that I was slipping. Not an experience I wanted during my session.
Having the right thickness or density is also very important. All mats vary in different thickness or density. So why is density important? Well to start off, the thicker the mat, the more “cushion” you get. While more “cushion” may be desired, it can also lead to an imprint on your mat. That is not to say that all mats will leave an imprint, it may happen with a foam or rubber mat.
The thickness of your mat is major factor contributing to your overall enjoyment as it impacts your joints, knees, back and hips if you have issues. Everyone wants to be comfortable and pain free on their yoga mat. You do not want to develop any common issues such as sore hands, feet or knees while practicing especially if it can be prevented.
Trust me, as a woman in her 40’s with some joint and knee issues, I now religiously use a cork mat that has a 5mm thickness and I would never trade it for any other mat. I use this mat for a couple of reasons. First, the grip is simply amazing on my cork yoga mat. You can’t beat the grip, I have never had such a solid and secure grip on any other mat. I have not slipped on my mat, nor does my cork mat ever slide. It is firmly planted on the floor, it doesn’t move and I am firmly planted on my mat. The second reason is the density of my cork yoga mat. I chose the 5mm thickness for my joints and for my fragile knees. It provides enough cushion for my knees that I am not in pain when practicing, all while still being a firm mat. My 5mm thick cork mat is an absolute must for me when doing any type of yoga or pilates class.
If you are one of the lucky ones that does not have any joint or knee issues, you may love a thinner option such as the 3mm thickness. The 3mm is a standard mat thickness and you will feel a close connection to the ground. If made of cork this is a thin, firm mat that provides a lot of stability. It is light weight, easy to carry around and deliberately does not provide a lot of cushion. Yoga mats made out of foam or rubber are still thin and vary in firmness depending on the actual mat.
A yoga mat with a 4mm thickness are for those people who do not have sensitive joints or knees, but still want a little bit of cushion with the firmness. It provides stability and support, but does not feel like you are lying on the floor.
For those of you who suffer from knee or joint pain, using a denser mat such as the 5mm or even a 6mm will help absorb impact and provide more cushion and support on your joints, knees and hips while you practice. It has more cushion compared to the thinner density mats, however a cork yoga mat is not spongy or squishy so you do not leave an imprint on this mat. It is still firm and dense. With a rubber or foam mat, depending on the mat it may leave an imprint. Keep in mind, the thicker the mat the heavier it may be depending on what material your mat is made out of. Foam is extremely light weight where natural tree rubber is quite a bit heavier. Good luck and I hope you find your perfect mat!