As men, we’ve all had a moment when we thought that yoga didn’t look like exercise. It doesn’t even really look like warming up. Then, we tried it and discovered to our horror how hard it was to contort into positions that nature never intended. We now know that yoga is an important part of any fitness regiment in that it increases flexibility, mental focus, and muscle definition so we can get that sculpted look. While yoga doesn’t require much equipment, having the right yoga mat is still important and can change your workout.
During the early rise of the modern yoga craze, when it was mostly done by a few scarecrow women in back rooms while everyone else did Tae Bo or sweated to the oldies, yoga mats came in an array of pastel colors that no guy could strap on, pretending it was a travel backpack. Now, the new set of yoga mats for guys – or brogamats as they are sometimes called after the popular company – are made with macho designs and crafted with men in mind. So that you can select the right tool to begin your bendy adventure, here’s the 5 best yoga mats.
Pro: Folds instead of rolling
Con: Can get slick with sweat
Road Warrior: Here’s what you do if you’re a new yogi: You buy this mat to kick off your practice the right way, then, when you have found enlightenment and inner peace, you get a nice professional mat while you use this as your travel yoga mat. It’s just under 3 lbs., making it a little on the heavy side for a to-go mat, but that extra weight comes from 4 mm of padding and up to 72″ in length which makes it comfortable on any floor and long enough for most people. For quick travel it folds rather than rolls up to fit in a suitcase or hiking backpack and comes with its own little purse eco-friendly travel tote. It’s hyper-allergenic since it doesn’t use any latex in the construction. When you aren’t practicing, you can also use the folded body as a cushion for meditation. It isn’t quite as sticky as some, but still doesn’t let you glide away, though you may want to couple it with a yoga towel if you’re a hot yoga aficionado.
GAIAM SOL DRY-GRIP YOGA MAT
Pro: Moisture wicking material
Con: Made of PVC
Most for the Money: First note that this just looks badass. With a body that has a mandala-style design that looks like something a Buddhist biker would have emblazoned on his motorcycle jacket, it’s damn cool. The Dry-Grip uses a closed cell material that is antimicrobial so that bacteria can’t live on it which reduces odors and the need for cleaning while also preventing you from contracting anything from a public yoga class where bodies are turning the room into a petri dish. With a moisture wicking PVC upper layer that uses wicking technology to actually grip harder when covered with sweat, you will never suddenly take a nose dive when moving from plank (Kumbhakasana) into low push-up (Chaturanga Dandasana / Ashtanga Namaskara). Works equally well for high and low impact routines because you’ll stick to this like flypaper. For padding, it is a full 5 mm thick, which is a nice height for cushioning without interrupting your balance. Our sole beef with this was that it was too short without the option of getting one in the 70″+ range. This is an ideal choice if you’re trying to get away from Lululemon’s slightly racist CEO or need a solid mat intermediate mat without latex.
BAREFOOT ECO YOGA MAT
Pro: Sticky even when sweaty
Con: Includes latex
All Natural: Yoga can just be used for fitness, but it is meant to be an entire change in your lifestyle and way of thinking. If you really want to get a yoga mat that will help you expand your spiritual horizons and try to find greater fitness for your soul, rather than just your body, then you’ll want to get this completely natural, eco-friendly mat that manages to be both good for the environment and for your practice. Kindness to mother earth is not all that the Eco Mat has going for it, it also excels at staying sticky even when covered with sweat thanks to the natural rubber and jute fabric that comprise the top layer. The underside doesn’t slip or slide when placed on any kind of floor, from hardwood to linoleum. It’s 4 mm thick which gives it a moderate amount of cushioning that works with any kind of yoga practice. At 4.5 lbs. it is a little on the heavy side and those with a latex allergy will need to avoid it, but it’s durable enough to go the distance, even if you’re a yogi that practices every day. Comes in both 72″ and 84″ models.
MANDUKA BLACK PRO
Pro: Lifetime guarantee
Big and Bad: Manduka yoga mats are considered by many yoga instructors to be the final word in the industry and the Black Pro stands out even among these as a force to be reckoned with. We liked it most of all because not only was it a great mat with a lifetime guarantee that shows the company’s dedication to their product, but it is nice and long for guys who are over 6 feet and don’t want their heels hitting the floor during corpse pose (Savasana / Mrtasana). It is 85″ long and 26″ wide (shorter 71″ models are available) with a thickness of more than 6 mm and weighing in at 8.5 lbs., so it’s a beast to carry around. Made of PVC material it starts off slick, but after a month of regular use you’ll find it gives traction without being sticky, even when covered in sweat. The materials used aren’t all natural, which turn some people off, but since it is meant to be with you for life the notion is that it will never need to enter a landfill since it will outlive you.
LIFORME YOGA MATS
Pro: Diagram helps with accurate posing
Instructions Included: The best thing about the Liforme mats is that they have a diagram right on the surface so that even if you’ve never been to a yoga class in your life you can still get your poses perfect. This helps prevent strain and injury as well as getting the most out of your yoga routine so that all the grunting, sweating, and down-dogging gives you the best results. Using a combination of rubber and felt these are very soft which is important when your knees, elbow, or tailbone hits the floor. The patented “Grip For Me” material they use for the mat is a trade secret, but it works, whatever it is, and doesn’t slide under you or cause you to pull a muscle should your back leg go rogue and hit a sweaty spot. The material is environmentally friendly, right down to the helpful designs printed on it, which are etched rather than inked with caustic chemicals. A little longer and wider than standard, they work for just about anyone.