Yoga can do wonders for runners, from helping to calm the mind to assisting with stretching tight hamstrings. A consistent yoga practice can help strengthen your core muscles to better support your spine during long runs, essential for better form.
If you’re not dedicating some quality time in Downward Dog, now is as good of a time as any to start. Bur first, you’re going to need a mat. Not just any mat, either. The right equipment is worth the investment, as it can help stave off injury by preventing slipping during sweaty sessions and provide a cushioned surface that will protect your joints. Plus, it’s nice to know you’re on a sanitary surface (that’s housing only your sweat).
Runners require a special set of requirements in a yoga mat. Portability, for one—you’ll want to be able to carry your mat with you when you head to a studio. Also, affordability—you already spend every cent on extra gear. And, since runners are most likely not yoga experts, we looked at mats that offer tools and features to help beginners.
Between several rounds of early morning flows and hot yoga sessions, we put these 10 mats to the test, coming up with our top choices.
A standard yoga mat is about 4 millimeters thick. Somehow, the folks at Manduka have squeezed three layers into this 4mm find, and the tri-layer tech creates some super cushiony goodness. Made with natural tree rubber, this pick is equal parts durable and comfortable. The grippy surface made me feel like I had an extra edge during tough balancing positions, which in my mind is worth the $72 splurge.
Let's be honest, the worst thing about a yoga mat is trying to perfectly roll it up so it stays tight and secure, especially if you're stuffing it into a bag and then jumping on the bike. The Backslash Fit Smart Mat uses an ingenious design to fix that problem—it self rolls with a gentle push. Just as important, it comes with a grippy, 5mm thick surface for cushioned comfort during sweaty poses. (We're affiliated with Backslash Fit.)
This Gaiam choice makes the “I don’t feel like carrying my mat around,” excuse totally irrelevant, because let’s be real: a traditional yoga mat isn’t necessarily portable. Instead of the standard roll, this one folds into a compact square and fits perfectly into a backpack or carry-on.
With antimicrobial properties that help prevent mold and mildew from forming on this Lululemon classic, that post-flow stench that can linger when you BYOM from class to the office becomes a thing of the past.
This certainly doesn’t look like your typical yoga mat. Toting a scorpion design complete with horizontal, vertical, and 45-degree lines, it’s designed for beginners. The markings aid in tracking progress and improving form by designating the ideal spots to place your hands and feet during specific poses. The mat is also slightly thicker than typical, providing more cushioning for inevitable slips when you are just starting out.
You spend enough money on running gear, you don’t need to go overboard with your yoga mat. This Level 1 Mat from Jade is so sweat absorbent you'll hardly notice moisture even when you are dripping. That makes its under-$40 price tag is hard to beat. After just an hour hanging over my dining room chair after an hour-long sweat-dripping class, it was dry—as if I hadn’t even used it at all.
At 1/16’-inch, this mat’s about as thin (and basic) as they come. And for the price, that works for me. Think of the 1.4-pound no frills mat as a sticky, textured surface that’ll help you stop, drop, and child’s pose wherever the road takes you. I’d reach for this one for lighter practices where I’m not completely soaked.
A few extra inches wider and longer than your typical savasana platform (for newbies, that’s the final resting pose in class), this mat from British-based company Liforme is perfect for both Shaq and Snooki-sized practitioners. Plus, it comes with a free mat bag so you can easily carry it while on a ride to and from the studio.
This hybrid yoga towel and mat is really ideal for hot yoga lovers, since it offers a mega absorbent surface for anyone who channels Niagara Falls during their practice. Bonus: the two-for-one combo gives you one less thing to contemplate packing in the morning. Just make sure you bring a specific sweat bag to throw this one into once you’re done with it. It needs a little extra time to dry, and you won’t want that wet material drenching other things in your go bag.
Another foldable favorite, Manduka’s blend of polyester and natural cotton makes this mat resistant to stretching and occasional tears. I folded this one three times to make it into a perfect square, and then easily put it inside my suitcase for a 3-day trip to London. Definitely better than doing post-run stretching on a hotel floor, plus I didn’t have to worry about it adding too much weight or bulk to my luggage.
Meet your ultimate travel companion. Heck, meet your new favorite yoga mat, period. At just over 2 pounds, it’s perfect for use on its own or overlayed on a studio mat (read: germaphobes, this one’s for you). Unlike other travel-friendly options which can be a bit bare bones, this pick has two layers making it feel more like a standard mat than an on-the-go selection. Not as cushy as it’s 4-millimeter brethren, it’s still super smooth to the touch and gets the job done without making you feel like you’re lugging around an extra arm.
Base Layer Of Running Track
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