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Whether you do yoga in a structured class or at home, you probably find a yoga mat useful. Aside from the comfort aspect of having a cushion for your knees and feet, the mat also acts a hygienic barrier if you’re doing yoga in a public area.
“If you take yoga classes at a studio, typically you will be barefoot, which means you’re doing yoga on the same floor that everyone else is walking around on barefoot. It’s going to be much cleaner and healthier to be practicing on your mat, which you can control the cleanliness of,” said Bianca Ashley, a postnatal yoga specialist who’s been practicing for 15 years.
But as with any item that gets regular use, the time will come to get a new one.
“If your mat smells and the smell is not dissipating when you clean it, that’s a sign that it’s time to replace your mat,” she said.
Though lingering, not-so-fresh odors will make you want to trade out a well-seasoned yoga mat for a fresh one, the texture of a frequently used mat can also affect your yoga experience — and potentially cause injuries.
“You’ll also want a new one if you start seeing chips or holes in the mat, because sometimes they’ll wear down the same as your favorite pair of running sneakers or like tread on a tire,” Ashley said. “We have to replace the tires on our car because the tread wears down from wear and tear from normal use, and yoga mats are the same exact way.”
Consistent, long-term yoga can also cause weathering on the top layer of the mat, making it slippery and dangerous to practice on.
Below, we rounded up yoga mats you can buy online if you think it’s time for a replacement, including two of Ashley’s favorite mats.
Lululemon's The Mat
"If you're going to do hot yoga or high intensity workouts or yoga with weights, you want to get what are known as 'sticky mats.' This one from Lululemon is my favorite of the sticky mats, but it is very thick and very heavy," Ashley said.
This 3-millimeter natural rubber mat is almost 6 feet long and comes in multiple colors, including pink, creamy mint, pastel blue, black and teal. It's also reversible, meaning you can flip between the smooth, grippy side and the cushioned, natural rubber side. You don't even have to worry about your mat getting gross and yucky as it has a built-in antimicrobial substance that prevents mold and mildew. The mat also comes in a 5-millimeter option.
Promising review: "Perfect for Ashtanga - provides the perfect amount of 'stick' and support. I sweat (a lot), and this keeps me in place." — Jim M
June and Juniper travel mat
"June and Juniper makes great travel mats with cute designs," Ashley said.
Style options include purple space, green forests and blue floral. Since this mat is made for travel, it's ultra-thin (like a credit card!) and foldable so you can take it on the go with ease. It measures almost 6 feet long and is made of microfiber and tree rubber. If multi-functionality is your workout style, you'll love the reversible element as the black rubber side offers a high quality grip, while the microfiber side works best for hot yoga or wet environments.
Promising review: "I needed a mat I could easily fly with and spent quite some time finding the right one. I decided to be vain and pay a little extra for this one because the design was just so stunning. It was worth every penny. The color and design are even more gorgeous in person.. and it easily folds up into my backpack. As for the quality of the mat - excellent. Super grippy top, nice texture to practice on. I usually use a yoga towel too for extra grip, but it’s not necessary for this mat since the texture is already so grippy. It is of course very thin, so it can be a little hard on the knees but the extra cushy pad that comes with it takes care of that. Perfect purchase!!!" — Amanda
Jade Yoga mat
Available in a variety of vibrant colors like orange yellow, raspberry, midnight blue and olive green, Jade Yoga's Harmony mat makes a great replacement option. The strong-grip mat is 3/16 of an inch thick and comes in lengths of 68 , 71 and 74 inches.
Promising review: "This is the best yoga mat I have purchased! I have used many different mats and I am so happy that I tried this one at a yoga class. I highly recommend this mat over any other expensive mat out there. I practice flow and hot yoga and both worked amazing with no slip. Downward dog was NO problem! I sometime practice yoga with weights, and I think that this will be perfect for that, as well. I just aired mine out over the weekend when I got it at my door step and it was ready to use! No scrubbing or cleaning prior to use. Happy Practice!" — Jess
Alo Warrior Mat
At a little over 6 feet long, this heavy duty matte-finish yoga mat provides enough cushion, support and grip for your next session. It's also 100% formaldehyde-free, non-toxic and PVC-free. With anti-odor, dry-wicking and slip-free properties, it's also ideal for hot yoga. It comes in multiple colors like pink, blue, mint green, yellow rose gold, gray white and black.
Promising review: "I have been in the market for a new yoga mat for a while. I really needed something more sticky and slip resistant in both wet and dry conditions. This one fits the bill! It is quite heavy but I practice at home." — Amber G.
Bala Play Mat
Bala, the brand best known for its Insta-famous Bala Bangles, offers their signature combination of form and function with the arc-shaped Play Mat. In addition to having an antimicrobial and waterproof top layer, the mat is also moisture-wicking and non-slip for your most intense yoga sessions. It is just under 6 feet long and comes in blush pink, gray and sand tan.
Promising review: "I love this mat!! It's thick so you can get your knees on it with absolutely no pain and it lays FLAT without curling! It's the best workout mat ever! So worth it! I bought pink and I adore the color! So fun!" — Jaime M.
Gaiam printed yoga mat
Add a splash of color to your next yoga session with this Gaiam mat. It comes in purple and dark blue and offers 4 millimeters of cushioned support for your knees and feet. This lightweight mat is 68 inches long.
Promising review: "Great mat! I have been shopping for a good one to start doing yoga again. It’s reasonable and durable. I have hard wood floors and haven’t had any trouble with sliding." — Tdburleson
BalanceFrom yoga mat
Made of high density foam, this 71-inch mat makes an ideal replacement for yoga beginners and pros. Its double sided non-slip surfaces aids in preventing injuries or slipping during sweaty sessions. The moisture-resistant mat also comes with a carrying strap for convenient packing. Get it in red, purple, green, black, pink, blue or gray.
Promising review: "I have VERY tender knees and tender bones from osteoporosis. I find this mat to be very comfortable when I do my yoga routines especially in any kneeling position. I do not find it too thick as to be unsteady in upright poses. It is WONDERFULLY soft. I will definitely buy again or even add another color before I need a new mat as I am that pleased with it. It is an excellent product for the price. I have been doing yoga for decades now and I am delighted with this find." — Luluru
This article originally appeared on HuffPost. ●