As a yoga practitioner with bad knees, you need to find a mat that checks all the boxes, with one of the most important being that you will be able to protect your bad knees during practice. Nobody wants sore knees when they’re doing their practice. So in using that as a starting point, I’ve found the best yoga mats for bad knees.
Here’s a quick preview of the best yoga mats for bad knees that I’ll cover:
- Best Eco-Friendly: Manduka eKo
- Best Looking: Gaiam Premium Extra thick
- Best Overall: BalanceFrom GoYoga Extra-Thick Mat
- Best Accessory: Gaiam Yoga Knee Pads
- Best Alignment: ATIVAFIT Non-Slip TPE Yoga Mat
- Best Rated: Tri-fold exercise mat
- Best Beginners: AmazonBasics
- Best knee pad: ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad and Elbow Cushion 15mm
- Best Combo: Manduka Pro & ProsourceFit Exercise Balance Pad
- Best Budget: Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat
Why It’s Important To Choose a Yoga Mat For Bad Knees
Yoga mats really are the only accessory you may need to buy for your yoga practice. And so especially if you have bad knees and you want to protect them and be able to keep up with your practice, it really is important to buy a yoga mat that has good cushioning. And if you are wondering why that’s important?
Well, the last thing you want is to be putting pressure on your knees during class. The reason being that extra pressure on your knees will make your yoga practice more uncomfortable and may even lead to a further knee injury.
I will point out that this may not be important for those with a soft, more restorative-like practice. However, from experience, I have noticed that if you practice Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, or any physically demanding variation like it, well, in the long term you will want to invest in a good quality yoga mat.
As a side note, you may like my article Yoga Mat Thickness where I explain the varieties in thicknesses and which may be the best for you.
What to Look for in Yoga Mats for Bad Knees
There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a yoga mat for bad knees. Some are the features to pay attention to:
Does it have good cushioning?
If you’re someone who wants to protect their knees during yoga, this part’s important for you. Some yoga mats are soft and others are more hard and dense. What’s the difference?
A thick and soft yoga mat will most likely be able to provide more cushioning for your knees. Think of it as having a softer surface for your knees that will make poses a lot more comfortable. And so if you are looking for a yoga mat for bad knees, then this type of yoga mat may be perfect for you as there will be a soft surface to protect your sore knees. This is good for gentle yoga practices, however, one downside is that it can be slightly hard to practice more dynamic forms of yoga, such as Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow. A typical example of a thick and soft yoga mat is the BalanceFrom GoYoga Extra-Thick Mat.
The thick and hard mat is denser with an impermeable surface. It is more resistant to wear and tear and could be considered more hygienic. A typical example of a closed-cell yoga mat is the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat. And so if you are looking for a yoga mat for bad knees, then you will most likely need to pair this mat with a knee pad (ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad and Elbow Cushion 15mm).
I have students who practice Ashtanga and have bad knees. And so they want a dense yoga mat that is suitable for their dynamic Ashtanga practice, and they also want a soft surface for any kneeling poses. And what they have found works for them is the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat and then they place the ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad and Elbow Cushion 15mm on top when they get to any kneeling poses.
Does it have good grip?
For anyone who is looking for a yoga mat for bad knees, having a mat with good grip is a very good idea. The reason being that the last thing you want while practicing is to worry about sliding in any of the poses as this may further injure your knees. And so one such example is the Manduka eKo.
Not only is it the most sustainable yoga mat on this list, but it also is a thick yoga mat that is made of rubber. This means that you will get to experience improves grip that will prevent any slipping.
If you practice a more dynamic form of yoga, then this mat is a very good option!
Does it help you with alignment?
Being able to have correct alignment throughout your practice is really important when it comes to bad knees. Take warrior 2 for example. We want the knee to look in the same direction as the toes of the front foot. There are numerous times I have corrected my student’s alignment in this pose, as the knee tends to fall in for many beginners in particular. However, if you practice yoga at home, having a mat with alignment cues, may help you improve your own alignment, to a certain extent of course!
And so one such example is the ATIVAFIT Non Slip TPE Yoga Mat.
Not only is it an eco-friendly yoga mat, but it also has great grip and has excellent cushioning for your sore knees.
Should you use a Knee Pad on top?
Sore knees is something we should really take care of during our yoga practice. That’s why you need a yoga mat that is ideal for bad knees! And if you’re someone who has very sensitive knees, you may want to look into a knee pad to place on top of your yoga mat, such as the ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad and Elbow Cushion, or the Gaiam Yoga Knee Pads. Both options are commonly used by yoga practitioners who have bad knees.
Top 8 Best Yoga Mats For Bad Knees
1. Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat
You’ll notice that the Gaiam Essentials Thick yoga mat ticks many of the boxes regarding yoga mats for knees. And the reason for this is that not only is it a very thick yoga mat, but it also made of foam, meaning that it can offer additional cushion and support. In this way, they promise that you will experience a soft and thick surface for your sore knees.
This mat has textured ridges that will be able to help with grip and this way can help reduce any slipping. And so people with bad knees will definitely want to check this yoga mat out.
Features to love about the Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat:
- 6.35mm thick meaning that it will provide you with a lot of cushioning
- Comes with a strap
- It comes in 7 colors
- Non toxic and 6p free
One other point to note about the Gaiam Essentials Thick yoga mat is that this may not be suitable for anyone practicing a dynamic form of yoga. So keep this in mind when deciding.
2. Balance From GoYoga
Similar to the mat above, the BalanceFrom is also a great yoga mat for bad knees. It is slightly thinner than the mat above but also comes with an additional knee pad, as can be seen in the image above. The yoga mat is 2.5mm thick and the knee pad is 1.5mm thick. And so at 4mm thick in total and made of foam, this little combo can also offer some good cushioning for your joints. It’s lightweight and affordable with over 19,000 ratings, placing it as one of ‘Amazon’s Choice’ mats.
Features to love about the BalanceFrom GoYoga Extra-Thick Mat:
- 4mm thick in total meaning you will experience some good cushioning
- Comes in a 7 colors
- Amazon’s Choice
- Comes with a free strap
One other point to note about the BalanceFrom yoga mat is that this may not be suitable for anyone practicing a dynamic form of yoga. So keep this in mind when deciding.
3. Tri-fold exercise mat
If you are a yoga practitioner that has bad knees and you’re looking for a mat that seems to tick all the boxes, whilst still being under $40, you’re going to want to check this mat out. It is a thick mat with great cushioning, meaning that this is a great yoga mat for bad knees. It is also easy to carry and is waterproof. And that’s something worth checking out!
Features to love about the Tri-Fold Exercise Mat from ProSource:
- 5mm thick meaning that it will provide you with a lot of cushioning
- It has a resilient foam interior that will help this mat keep its shape for long-term use
- Easy to wipe clean
- Comes in 3 colors
You may notice that this mat can’t be rolled up like conventional mats. Rather, it to fold into three parts, and so this may make it difficult to transport. And so this option may be the best yoga mat for bad knees for those who aim to practice at home.
4. Amazon Basics Mat
The truth is that the cost of practicing yoga can add up, especially when you have an injury. This may involve the cost of your local yoga studio, any physio you may be doing, and any yoga props you want to invest in. And so if you are looking for an extra thick foam yoga mat for bad knees then this yoga mat may be a good option for you. This yoga mat is lightweight, and also it is rather inexpensive! Plus, it’s labeled as Amazon’s No. 1 best seller with over 33,000 ratings!
Features to love about the AmazonBasics:
- Lightweight meaning it is easy to carry to your local studio
- At 5mm thick it offers great cushioning
- Comes in 7 colors
- Amazon’s No. 1 Best Seller
This yoga mat could be a good option for anyone starting out with yoga and who wants to do a gentle form of yoga and protect their knees.
5. Manduka Pro
This is the yoga mat I have had for the past 11 years. I absolutely love this mat. You will have it for life and it even comes with a lifetime guarantee. It is 6mm thick meaning that it is a thick mat. However, this one is much denser than the previous mats. And so this means that this is a yoga mat for bad knees only if you also use a knee pad or a blanket on top to allow for a softer surface for your knees.
And so if you are considering this yoga mat, know that this is more expensive than the previous mats, however, you will have this mat for life, as it also comes with a lifetime guarantee. And so a good combo for this mat is to use a knee pad (like the ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad) a yoga knee accessory (like the Gaiam Yoga Knee Pads) or a yoga blanket (like the Authentic Mexican Blanket).
Features to love about the Manduka Pro Yoga Mat:
- This is a mat for life as it offers a lifetime guarantee
- It is 6mm thick, meaning that it offers great cushioning of sensitive joints
- It comes in two lengths, regular 71 Inches and Extra Long 85 Inches
- It was crafted in an emissions-free facility
Of course, there really is no perfect yoga mat, and so in my opinion, the only two drawbacks of this yoga mat is:
1. This is quite a heavy yoga mat, and so this may not be your best option if you have to carry it to your local yoga studio, or if you are planning on traveling with it.
2. You may have to break it in at first to experience the superior grip. For more information check my video:https://www.youtube.com/embed/oxAUnLFJ59E?feature=oembed
6. ATIVAFIT Non-slip yoga mat
Having an alignment pattern on your yoga mat can really revolutionize your yoga practice. And so the ATIVAFIT yoga mat can greatly benefit yoga beginners with knee issues as it may help them with their alignment, thus potentially avoiding any further alignment issues. And yet that is just one of the benefits of this mat. You will experience great grip.
Features to love about the ATIVAFIT Non-Slip TPE Yoga Mat:
- It is an eco-friendly yoga mat
- It is 6mm thick meaning that you will experience great cushioning.
- It is lightweight and so it is easy enough to carry around
- It also comes with a strap
- It is waterproof and easy to clean
7. Gaiam Premuim Extra Thick
You’ll notice that the Gaiam Premium Extra thick mat is the only one that comes in a beautiful pattern. And so if you are looking for a good yoga mat for bad knees that also looks pretty, then this may be your best option. It is 6mm thick, meaning that it can offer great cushioning. Additionally, it’s lightweight, durable, and even comes with access to a full online video library!
Features to love about the Gaiam Premium Extra thick:
- 6mm thick meaning that it will also provide you with a lot of cushioning
- It is lightweight
- It comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns to choose from
- Iy has over 10,000 ratings on Amazon
One other point to note about the Gaiam Premium Extra Thick Yoga mat is that it may release quite a strong odor when you first unwrap it. This is very common with yoga mats and the smell will slowly fade away. To the odor to leave, try unrolling it and airing it out for a few days before practicing on it.
8. Manduka eKo
This yoga mat is one of the more premium yoga mats to choose from, similar to the Manuka Pro. It comes in at 5mm, meaning that this offers extra support for your joints. And so if you are looking for a yoga mat for bad knees that also offers great cushioning, then this may be the mat for you. Additionally, if you are concerned with how sensitive it is, know that this mat is actually the “most durable natural rubber yoga mat on the market”.
Features to love about the Manduka eko:
- 5mm thick meaning you will experience some superior cushioning
- Eco-friendly and biodegradable
- Natural rubber grip
- A rippled surface texture that helps improve the grip
If you have extra sensitive knees, then you may want to also use a knee pad (like the ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad) a yoga knee accessory (like the Gaiam Yoga Knee Pads) or a yoga blanket (like the Authentic Mexican Blanket).
Yoga Accessory For Bad Knees
1. ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad
If you have extra sensitive knees, or if you chose one of the more dense yoga mats, like the Manduka Pro or the Manduka Eko, then this knee pad is perhaps just what you are looking for. As it is 15mm thick and as such will provide excellent cushioning for your knees, you can feel confident that is a perfect solution for bad knees. Of course, as it is so small, you will have to place this on top of your yoga mat, otherwise, you may struggle to practice yoga on this alone!
Features to love about the ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad and Elbow Cushion 15mm:
- You can place this on top of your mat to protect your knees
- It is a very thick 15mm
- Simply wipe clean with a wet cloth
- Eco friendly
- It comes in 6 colors
2. Gaiam Yoga Knee Pads
These are considered a must-have for people with sore knees and as such have excellent reviews on Amazon. They are nonslip and thanks to their gel-like constructions, they are able to cradle and comfort your joints.
Features to love about the Gaiam Yoga Knee Pads:
- You can place this on top of your mat and place them where your knees will be
- Considered ‘Amazon’s Choice’
- Portable and lightweight
- Can be used for sore knees, elbows, and wrists
3. Yoga Blanket
This is a more DIY approach to protecting your knees during yoga, especially if you don’t want to purchase something specifically for your knees. And yet, using a blanket to protect your knees may be a good option as you are able to fold it as much as you want, thus adjusting the thickness and ultimately the cushioning you want to provide your knees.
pLus, you get to use is to keep yourself warm during savasana, final relaxation, at the end of class.
Features to love about the Authentic Mexican Blanket:
- It’s versatile
- Soft and durable
- It comes in beautiful colors
- Amazon’s choice
And so all the yoga mats listed are good options for bad knees. It really does depend on what you are looking for.
- If you want an affordable and thick yoga mat, suitable for gentle yoga practices, then go for the Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat.
- If you want a premium yoga mat that you will have for life, then go for the Manduka Pro and pair it with the Gaiam Yoga Knee Pads.
- If you want a premium eco-friendly yoga mat, then go for the Manduka Eko and pair it with the ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad and Elbow Cushion 15mm.
Can you do yoga with bad knees?
As a general rule, you can do yoga with bad knees. Ideally, try to practice with an experienced yoga teacher, so they can advise you on what yoga poses to avoid and also what variations of poses you can do. You may want to get a thick yoga mat that will provide good cushioning for your bad knees.
How can I protect my knees during yoga?
As a general rule, there are two ways to protect your knees in yoga. The first is to aim for correct alignment. An experienced yoga teacher will be able to advise you on how to safely do yoga poses to reduce the risk of injury. Secondly, practice on a mat with good cushioning to protect your knees.
What is the best thickness for a yoga mat?
As a general rule, aim for a yoga mat that provides cushioning for your joints. Yoga mats range from the very thin 1mm to the thicker 6mm. The ideal thickness of a yoga mat is between 4 and 6mm because this is thick enough to allow you to have a comfortable practice whilst protecting your joints.