As you roll out your mat to prepare to child’s pose and downward dog yourself into enlightenment, you may wonder what purpose the mat serves if it is so skinny. Why are most yoga mats so thin?
Yoga mats are thin because they need to allow you to have a stable connection with the ground. The less squish you have underfoot, the more steady you can be in your balance poses. Thin yoga mats offer some cushion and texture for traction while also allowing you to root down into solid balance postures.
Different yoga mat thicknesses
Even though most yoga mats are thin, there are actually different thickness to allow for different needs in your yoga practice and to suit different tastes. Below are common thicknesses of vinyl (pvc) mats.
Super thin 1.5mm (1/16″) yoga mats
These ultra-thin mats are perfect for people who require a lot of stability and grip, but don’t need much cushioning.
Also, people who travel with their yoga mats can put this in their suitcase without it adding much its weight.
Standard thickess 3mm (1/8″) yoga mats
The industry standard, 3mm thick yoga mats offer a great balance of cushion and the ability to connect well with the ground when trying to balance. Less cushion means less wobble!
Thick 6mm (1/4″) yoga mats
Thick mats feel better on the knees in tabletop position and under your sit bones in easy pose, but these may make it harder to keep your balance in Warrior 3.
If you find joint pain while in seated poses is keeping you from wanting to practice, or from enjoying it, this may be the thickness for you.
Super-Thick 8mm (1/3″) yoga mats
Yoga mats can sometimes be found in a hefty 8mm thickness. While these mats make it more difficult to hold balance poses, they can offer an incredible amount of cushion on the knees, hips, and elbows.
These could be considered to be more generic “exercise mats” and would be good if you do other types of exercises, such as sit ups or planks.
Thicknesses of mats made from other materials
Vinyl yoga mats are everywhere, but they aren’t the only material yoga mats are made out of, which means that there are other thicknesses available if you want to deviate away from vinyl.
Cork mats generally have a non-skid layer under the cork layer. This means that you probably won’t find an ultra-thin cork mat. Yoga mats made from cork can be found in 4mm, 5mm, or 6mm thicknesses.
Natural cork is thought to be more eco-friendly than vinyl and also resists harboring bacteria.
Yoga mats made from rubber are hard to find in the more ulta-thin travel widths. They can generally be found in 3mm, 5mm, 6mm, and even up to 8mm thicknesses.
Natural rubber has a much smaller carbon footprint than vinyl does, and it is also able to be recycled.
Jute mats can be found in similar thicknesses as rubber mats: 3mm, 5mm, 6mm, and even up to 8mm.
The mats are made from the jute plant, offering a more sustainable material than vinyl.