What are yoga mats made of?


oga mats are great tools for people that want to work out on the floor. The material yoga mats are made of allows you to be in various positions on any floor surface without being comfortable or causing damage to your joints. While some materials may absorb pressure better, most yoga mats will achieve the same level of comfort.

Yoga mats can be made from any material you really want however, usually, they are made from a blend of stuff to create a nice cushioned mat. Some types of materials yoga mats are made out of are:

  1. Foam
  2. Vinyl
  3. Rubber
  4. Cotton
  5. PVC

(Source: Very Well Fit, Leaf Score)

Whether you are shopping for yoga mats based on sustainability, budget, or comfort, there is absolutely a yoga mat out there that is perfect for you. The large variety of different materials make it almost impossible for you to not find the kind of mat that you want.

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What Type Of Foam Are Yoga Mats Made From?

When looking at foam yoga mats, you need to know what it’s truly made from. The foam is made from rubber or plastic, chemically altered to create the material we call foam. Other synthetic materials are mixed in, but these small amounts don’t bother the overall composition.

The only reason you need to know what type of foam your yoga mat is made form is when looking to recycle it. If your mat is made from rubber, they can ground it up and made another one however, plastic foam is almost impossible to recycle, so you would be better upcycling it.

What Material Is Best For A Yoga Mat?

Finding the best material for a yoga mat depends highly on the useability and your personal preferences. Every different material used to make yoga mats has specific purposes that allow for a different kind of activity.


If you are looking for yoga mats that aid in therapeutic activities and can help with aching joints, you want a thicker yoga mat. The thickness allows for more cushion, helping reduce the pressure put on your joints in the poses that can cause discomfort.

You may also want a thicker mat if you are looking to do physical therapy-type activities to avoid adding any more strain to the body part you are already trying to fix.

For building balance or aligning the mind, body, and spirit regularly, you may want to look at a thinner mat. These mats are easier to balance on and usually come with textured backs to help with stability on slick floors.

Thinner mats are also great for traveling because they usually have low weight and take up minimal room.

Durability Among Materials

The biggest thing to pay attention to when figuring out the best yoga mat to get is how durable the material is. If you are wanting your yoga mat to last a long time without needing to be replaced, you will want to look at a PVC or plastic-type material. Plastic-made yoga mats can last upwards of 10 years if you take care of them well.

Rubber and vinyl-type yoga mats are durable but not nearly as much as PVC, and most are recyclable. They can last upwards of 5-7 years when taken care of well but can break down easily if kept in rough conditions.

Naturally-made yoga mats are usually composed of things like cotton or jute and are often thinner than other yoga mats. They often don’t last longer than 3-5 years but are highly sustainable and can usually be recycled.

(Source: Yoga Accessories, Alexa Larryngton)

3 Most Common Yoga Mat Material Types

Now, yoga mats are mass-produced in most areas, so this means that more than half of yoga mats are generally similar in make-up and composition. If you are purchasing yoga mats from chain stores, you will most likely be purchasing a mat with the more commonly used materials.

If you were to search for lesser-known small stores or independent businesses, you might find more unique yoga mat compositions or natural fiber compositions. Some materials are great for the environment and rough on the budget, or vice versa.


One of the most inexpensive options when being mass-produced, PVC creates a foam-like texture that helps grip the floor and gives you a cushion against hard surfaces. This is the most common type of yoga mat material you will find due to its ability to be very versatile.

PVC is extremely durable and can last over a decade when taken care of well, but it does have a few drawbacks. PVC can get slippery when wet, so if you are sweating, you risk slipping on your mat.

Unfortunately, PVC is also extremely dangerous to the environment and can end up being in a landfill for several decades before it starts to break down. This usually means hundreds of thousands of yoga mats are in landfills due to their inability to be recycled.

Since it is synthetically made, which allows them to be budget-friendly and easy to pack and carry due to their lightweight, if you are just starting out with yoga mats, this is a great material to purchase without feeling like you are making a huge commitment.

(Source: livi Yoga, REI)

Thermoplastic Elastomers

Thermoplastic Elastomers or TPE is a much better option for yoga mats than PVC. TPE is almost always recyclable, it doesn’t require reinforcing agents to help it hold its shape, and this makes it less dangerous to you and the earth in general.

TPE can break down quicker than PVC, and it doesn’t leave behind toxic chemicals after it has broken down. It is lightweight, durable, and has a good amount of cushion to help support painful joints during certain poses.

TPE is also resistant to bacterial issues due to its closed-cell properties, as well as being resistant to water and oil. This keeps your mat from breaking down prematurely and helping you get by without cleaning it as often as it needs without damaging it.

(Source: REI, Alexa Larryngton)

Natural/Organic Fibers

Yoga mats can be made of natural materials that are far better for the environment both during production and once they are done being used. Natural yoga mats can be made of any material that is naturally occurring and sustainable.

Some options for natural fibers to make yoga mats with are:

  1. Wool
  2. Cork
  3. Natural Rubber
  4. Cotton
  5. Jute

Wanting yoga mats made with natural fibers is a fantastic way to help sustain the environment while diving deep into your hobby.  The only difference in production that natural fibers have from artificial materials is that natural and organic fibers usually have to have two layers to help with anti-slip protection.

(Source: livi Yoga, yoga signs)

Type Of MaterialProsCons
PVC●     Extremely high durability
●     Budget-Friendly
●     Anti-slip
●     Anti-bacterial
●     Lightweight
●     Bad for the environment
●     Non-recyclable
●     Toxic to nature/humans
TPE● Still budget-friendly
● Waterproof
● Better for the environment than PVC
● Anti-bacterial
● DOes cause toxic chemicals when broken down
● It takes a while to breakdown
● DIfficult to find a recycling center
Natural/Organic● Biodegradable
● Made from sustainable sources
● Variety of material options
● Customize to your desire
● Natural fibers can cause allergic reactions
● More expensive than artificial materials
● Can slip and move with the movement

Is There A Difference Between Cheap And Expensive Yoga Mats?

Doing your research when looking to purchase a yoga mat will most likely mean you end up looking at some extremely expensive mats wondering if you need something like that. The biggest question is, are expensive mats worth it?

There are differences between cheap and expensive mats, but if those differences are worth an extra $50-$100 is dependant on how dedicated you are to your workouts or hobbies.

Expensive Mats

In some situations, the more expensive the product, the better the quality, but that isn’t always the case with yoga mats. You have to ensure you aren’t paying for the brand name or an upcharge price due to the apparent rarity of the material.

Yoga mats made of natural fibers are normally more expensive due to the lack of ability to mass-produce them like the artificial materials and the lower quantities of products you have to make the mats.

If the yoga mat is made with artificial materials and still on the pricier side, its usually because of the characteristics that make it desirable, such as:

  1. Enhanced anti-bacterial properties
  2. Smooth surfaces
  3. Anti-slip
  4. Water and sweatproof
  5. Warranty or replacement guarantee from the company

Now, another reason to pay a higher price for a yoga mat is the possible accessories that can come with them. Some accessories that may promote the mat to a higher price are:

  1. Carrying case with shoulder strap
  2. Mat towels
  3. Yoga Blocks
  4. Yoga Straps
  5. Yoga Bolsters

You can get a lot of these things on Amazon. Here is a list of some of the best yoga blocks on Amazon right now! And now you can learn about yoga blocks for beginners!

(Source: Yoga Accessories, Market Watch)

Cheap Mats

Cheaper yoga mats are fine to purchase if you aren’t sure about your commitment to yoga or even if you are just trying out a few different ones however, purchasing cheaper yoga mats does have an extremely negative impact on the environment.

Cheaper mats are routinely made of extremely toxic artificial materials that will take decades to break down in a landfill. Even if they do, they usually emit toxic chemicals into the air and surrounding environment.

Cheaper mats are usually not capable of resisting bacterial growth or being bothered by water and sweat, so you are likely to have some issues during yoga sessions. In most cases, the companies that make the cheaper mats don’t have a great consumer relationship due to the lack of intentionality when it comes to quality.

Cheaper mats are also usually made thicker, resulting in less reasonable uses for those who are more experienced with yoga. A thicker mat can cause some stability issues, which can lead to injuries.

(Source: Very Well Fit, Market Watch)

Final Thoughts

Yoga is a fantastic tool to help relieve stress, joint issues, and overall body health problems. The issue most people have with yoga is the expense of the yoga mats that are a crucial part of the exercise art.

While cheap yoga mats aren’t the greatest decision, you are still able to find budget-friendly mats that allow for plenty of variety in your yoga routine without too much upkeep on your end. Research for your specific needs and desires, and you should find the perfect fit in no time.

Caleb Sharbono is a writer, bio-hacker, wellness advocate, and yogi. Caleb, who grew up on a small Montana ranch, joined the Navy at 17 to study cryptology. He later graduated from the US Naval Academy with a Minor in Mandarin, a Bachelor's in General Engineering, and a Major in English Literature. Caleb's interests and career cover diverse industries and disciplines. Caleb lives in San Antonio and is a Certified Yoga Instructor. He is also studying Zen Buddhism, practicing Holistic Psychology, and working towards his 300-hour yoga teacher training.


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