Why Lululemon’s $80 yoga mat is worth every penny
A pro yogi's opinion on that mega-popular mat
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As an avid yogi and yoga teacher, I know the importance of a trustworthy yoga mat. It can be hard to focus during class if you’re sliding around or if your mat wrinkles beneath you—not to mention the difficulty of staying in a pose when you can’t keep your grip. If you glance around at the studios you frequent (or take a closer look at any YouTube yoga videos you watch), you’ll probably notice that a lot of people have the Lululemon 5mm Reversible Mat.
I noticed this, too, and grew curious as to why everyone I knew had a Lulu mat. Were people buying it for the sleek design and color coordination, or because they just happened to be at the Lululemon store? Or does the mat truly work that well during practice to make its $78 price tag worthwhile? Spoiler: I'm one of the many people who has one of these mats. And I'm here to tell ya: It's definitely worth it.
Why is having a good yoga mat so important?
The durability of a mat is paramount, especially when you're spending more. The Lululemon Reversible Mat has been my yoga class sidekick, going on four years now. I bought the forest green color, and it’s still deep green, though a bit faded. I’ve practiced on blacktop, grass, carpet, and turf, and the softer underside is still well intact. I roll it up between uses and it continues to unroll and lie flat each time, which is ideal for practicing plank poses, Savasana, and everything in between. Even in hot classes, the mat doesn’t slide around beneath me—and that’s a biggie!
Hopefully, we’re all doing yoga that feels natural, but some poses take balance, and you’ll want a stable surface under you. The Lulu mat is just the right thickness to support you without shifting under you. It also provides a bit of comfort in restorative poses or any variations where you have weight on your joints like table pose or King Pigeon.
You also want a mat that provides adequate width and length for your body size. The Lulu mat’s dimensions are 26 inches by 71 inches (or two inches wider and three inches longer than standard mats). I’m 5-foot-5 and the mat fits my stance in lunges and Warrior II just fine. I fit comfortably on the mat in lying-down poses as well (rather than my head or feet sticking out). Lululemon also offers an extra-long, extra-wide version, if you think you'll like the extra real estate (say, if you're over 6 feet tall).
What do I love about the Lulu mat?
Aside from its impressive durability, stable surface, and capacious size, there are plenty of other things to like about the 5mm mat.
A brand-new Lulu mat is grippy, meaning it has a stickiness that allows you to stay in a downward dog without sliding, even in a heated class. I also like the materials used in the mat, which includes a polyurethane top layer, natural rubber base, and latex, according to Lululemon. The result is a semi-squishy surface that allows you to firmly plant your hands without absorbing so much weight that you sink in or feel mired down.
The Lulu mat also rolls up well, which makes it easy to carry around (though it is heavier than those cheapie mats you may have owned in the past). This, in addition to its squishy-but-not-too-soft material, helped it score the top spot in Reviewed's test of yoga mats.
What’s not so great about the mat?
Now that I’ve had my Lulu mat for years, I’ve seen some of its shortcomings. The stickiness lessens over time, so I’d suggest using a mat towel in hot classes to preserve the grippy feeling as long as possible. I’ll also admit that I don’t use both sides of the mat, though it’s reversible. I’ve used the softer side a few times—mainly when the top layer was still sweaty from an earlier practice. But I use blocks in my daily practice, and atop the softer surface, they won’t lie flat.
The mat also scuffs easily. Mine has swooping scratch marks from repeated sun salutations and from doing lunges with sneakers on. The mat is great for all kinds of workouts, but if you wear shoes and walk on it, be prepared to see some traces.
My biggest qualm with the Lulu mat is the process of washing it. Last year during my teacher training, I spent over 15 hours each weekend on my mat, so all I wanted to do Sunday evenings was clean my mat, even though it’s made with an “antimicrobial additive” to prevent mold or mildew from collecting. The Lululemon website suggests you use only water, and always let your mat air dry (out of direct sunlight). I tried to wipe it down with a washcloth and dish towel, but sweatier spots still remained. I then tried a mix of water, vinegar, and essential oils, which stripped the grippy texture along with the sweat. (Pro tip: Don’t do that!) Instead, I recommend hosing your mat off and letting it dry completely, or spraying a mat cleaner on a towel and then wiping the mat down.
Is the 5mm Reversible Lululemon mat worth it?
I haven’t found a better mat or mat surface since I bought my Lululemon mat. The grippy surface is just what I need to feel strong and stable in my home and community practices. With it, you will get a mat that truly feels like it fits into your routine, especially if you’ll be carrying it around with you.
The mat retails for $78 or $98 (depending on the color you go for), and I think it’s well worth the money. Mine has held up for over four years without flaking or tearing. If you’re concerned with sweat stains or shoe marks, I’d suggest one of the patterned options, or just embrace those smears as badges of honor of an enthusiastic yoga practice. As far as quality is concerned, you can't go wrong with any of Lululemon's offerings.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.