Sunday, January 19, 2020

Manduka Begin and Pro Travel Yoga Mat: 2020 Review

Manduka Begin and PRO Travel Yoga Mat

After 10 years on the road, it was finally time to get a decent travel yoga mat that I could also use for my daily practice. So I decided to try the Manduka PRO Travel Yoga Mat and the Manduka Begin Yoga Mat. Believe it or not, I chose the beginners mat. Here is why.

I really needed to upgrade

Since I started my yoga journey I've always been using those cheap sticky yoga mats that you can find in any store. They are all right, but they are not the best.

At some point, I was using a 6 mm sticky yoga mat that I got in Nepal. It was terrible. Thick but not dense and it was not sticky at all.

It was a bit embarrassing when practicing ashtanga yoga in Mysore with this mat. It would slide all over the floor when doing garbha pindasana. My friends would make fun of me. Lol.

Even Yogacharya Venkatesha, a hatha yoga teacher in Mysore, said to me during his yoga class, "You should get a good quality yoga mat."

Later on, I bought a 3 mm Nike yoga mat in Berlin. It was such a pleasure to travel with it. It was so light it felt like a feather. I think it was about 1.5 lbs.

But that was pretty much the only good thing about it. It was way too stretchy, way to cushiony, and terrible when you sweat on it.

Somehow I managed to practice with it for almost three years.

So this past December, while I was visiting my family in Miami for Christmas and New Year, I decided to order a new mat. My old Nike mat was already breaking apart so this was a good opportunity to upgrade.

What do I look for in a travel yoga mat

For the last ten years, I've been living a nomadic lifestyle, traveling mainly around Asia. So the most important thing that I look for in a yoga mat is that it has to be light. The lighter the better.

You know, I gotta take care of my back, knees, and shoulders. When you carry a backpack with pretty much everything you own then every gram counts.

But since I'm going to be using this mat for my daily yoga practice I also want it to be firm, dense and with great cushioning to provide good support for my joints, especially for my knees.

So I'm not interested in the super-light ultra-thin travel mats, like the Manduka Eko® Superlite Travel Yoga Mat (1.5 mm thick) or the Jade Voyayer (1/16" 1.6 mm thick). Seriously, that's like putting a napkin on the floor. Lol.

By the way, a good test to know if your mat is dense enough is that you shouldn't see your feet sinking into the mat, and you shouldn't see the marks of your feet after standing on your mat.

Of course, the mat also needs to be grippy, especially if you tend to sweat a lot. To me, that is easily solved by using a yoga towel on top.

I also want it to be as eco-friendly as possible and of course, safe for humans without toxic chemicals that might release into your skin.

So in brief, I look for something that is grippy, dense, supportive, safe and super light.

To make it portable I try to look for something that is around 3 mm thick. For me, a travel yoga mat doesn't need to be a foldable mat, but that's also a good feature to have.

So my review below and my final choice for a travel yoga mat are based on these criteria, which might not be the same criteria as you might have.

Manduka Begin and Pro Travel Yoga Mat Review

I must tell you, I didn't have much time to plan and shoot this video so I was not able to say everything I wanted to say.

I had only a couple of weeks to order and to get the mats.

I actually got the Manduka PRO travel yoga mat the day before I had to leave Miami. And I was able to shoot the video just a few hours before taking my flight back to Cambodia.

I was in a hotel room with my father that day. After my morning meditation and asana practice, I did the work of the housekeeping to make sure I had a clean background.

But I couldn't shoot with my father next to me so I asked him if he could “go for breakfast” to have the space to shoot. Lol. He didn't like that idea so much.

He said, “As soon as I'm done with my breakfast I'll come back!” He gave me about twenty-five minutes. I finished recording just before he walked back into the room. Lol.

Considering this, I think I did a pretty decent job. What do you think?

I hope that you enjoy watching the video and that you find it useful, but for a more detailed review, you can keep reading below.

Manduka Pro Travel Yoga Mat

Manduka PRO Travel Yoga Mat

The Manduka PRO yoga mats are the most popular yoga mats on the planet, and the PRO travel yoga mat is the lightest and thinnest version of this PRO series.

It weighs only 2.4 pounds (1.09 kg) and it is 2.5 mm thick. It measures 71" (180 cm) long and 24" (61 cm) wide.

It has the same surface texture as the other PRO mats, and although it is very thin, it is still very dense.

However, you do clearly feel the floor underneath you.

So if you like to feel the connection with the floor, and if you have no issues with your knees or spine, then you will love this mat.

And you can easily pack this mat in your backpack or suitcase. It can be folded without damaging the mat.

I was looking for something of at least 3 mm thick, but 2.5 mm sounded not too bad so I decided to give it a try.

Once I tried it I quickly realized that I needed more support for my joints. Definitely not a mat to be used on a daily basis.


  • It is very easy to clean. Just wipe it with a wet cloth and it will dry in no time.
  • It is very portable. It is not only very thin, only 2.5 mm thick, but you can actually fold this mat to pack it in your suitcase or backpack. Believe it or not, it won't keep the creases of the fold. I wouldn't push it too far though.
  • It is lightweight. I prefer lighter but at 2.4 lbs (2.88 lbs / 1.31 kg according to my test) it still feels comfortable to carry with you.
  • It is sustainable. Their manufacturing process has no toxic emissions, their mats are safe for humans and above all, they last a lifetime. Even this thin travel mat is covered by Manduka's lifetime warranty.
  • It feels very grippy. I haven't tested it when sweating but while dry it felt very grippy to my hands.


  • Not supportive enough. Although the material feels firm and dense, you do feel the ground underneath you. I know some people do like to feel that connection with the floor, but if you need good support for your knees this mat might not work for you, especially if you want to use it daily.
  • It's not as eco-friendly. Although the PRO series are sustainable, they are not as eco-logical as the Manduka Eko Series. They are made of PVC.
  • Feels plasticky. In my opinion, although it looks great and it has the same built like all other PRO mats, because of the thinnest this one feels a bit plasticky. It feels a bit like those rubber floor tiles used to cover floors. Lol. That's just my opinion guys, pls don't get offended (to Manduka staff). A lot of people do love how this mat feels.

Manduka Begin Yoga Mat

Manduka Begin Yoga Mat

The Begin yoga mat (previously labeled Welcome Yoga Mat) is Manduka's entry mat, aimed especially at beginners.

It is only 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg) and it is 5 mm thick. It measures 68" (172 cm) long and 24" (61 cm) wide.

I don't really care if they say it is for beginners. I only care about quality and functionality.

And even if it is not advertised as a travel yoga mat, if I can easily carry it then I can travel with it. It is actually lighter than what Manduka advertises (read the pros section below).

That being said, if you have used a premium quality yoga mat before then this one is going to feel... well, a bit cheap. I hate to say it but yeah, it can feel like a beginner's mat, almost like a toy. Lol.

But don't let your yogic pride get on the way. If you are looking for something that is light, soft but at the same time supportive for your joints and not too expensive then this mat is a really good choice.


  • It is very light. Although Manduka's website says it is 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg), according to my test it is only 2.32 lbs (1.05 kg). It is definitely lighter than the Manduka Pro Travel Yoga Mat, half a pound lighter.
  • It has soft cushioning. Although it is a bit squishy at the same time it's dense enough to provide stability and also good support for my joints. Yeah, my knees feel very comfortable on this mat. It is way better than every other regular sticky yoga mat I have tried before.
  • Center alignment stripe. I'm an experienced practitioner and a yoga teacher, but I still appreciate to have that center alignment stripe. If you are a beginner then you'll love it even more.
  • It is not very expensive. It costs around 40 USD, depending on the color, while the PRO travel yoga mat costs around 70 USD.
  • It is grippy. Some people complain that this mat is slippery but to my hands, it does feel grippy although not as grippy as the PRO travel mat.
  • It is reversible. You can use either side of the mat to practice on, and since Manduka offers several different colors then you have a large selection to choose from. You'll find the Manduka logo only on one side though.


  • It is a bit bulky. At 5 mm thick it can feel a bit bulky. I would have preferred a 3 mm mat, but this is not such a big deal to me.
  • Not as easy to clean. Because of the texture, it's not as easy to clean as the Manduka PRO mats.
  • No lifetime warranty. It doesn't have the Manduka lifetime warranty as the PRO series, which means it is not as sustainable, although they still care about eco-friendly manufacturing.
  • It keeps the creases. When rolling tightly or slightly folding the mat it tends to keep the creases of the fold. When I do a long sitting meditation practice I can see the mark of my cushion on it, but after some time they go away.
  • Feels synthetic. The texture feels almost like a natural rubber mat but at the same time, it is not. To me, it feels mostly a bit synthetic. This might be very personal. I already got used to it and now I do like how it feels.
  • Only one size. Tall people might find this mat a bit too short. It is only one size: 68" / 172cm. long.
  • It doesn't fall flat on the floor. When brand-knew it doesn't fall flat on the floor. It took several days of rolling it on the opposite side to get it to fall flat.
  • It gets stuck on the mat bag. Although I roll it tightly, once I put it inside my mat bag it tends to unroll and then because of the material it gets stuck on the cloth. So it's a bit difficult to get it out. If you have a small yoga mat bag with an opening on the top like I do then this might be a bit annoying.

Which travel yoga mat did I choose?

Even though there are a lot of things I didn't like about it, after testing both of these mats I decided to keep the Begin yoga mat.

It might not look and feel so "pro" but it's lighter and more comfortable for my knees than the PRO travel mat, and that's exactly what I'm looking for. I need a mat that is light for traveling but supportive enough for my daily yoga practice.

Of course, you might have different needs than I have. If it is important to fold your mat and put it in your suitcase, the PRO travel mat might work better for you.

The Begin yoga mat is far better than every mat I owned before, and I am liking it, but I can't say I'm in love with it.

If I didn't buy the Begin yoga mat my next option was the Jade Travel Yoga Mat. I actually wanted to get this mat instead but I didn't have enough time to order it during my short visit to Miami.

The Jade Travel Yoga Mat is 3.2 mm thick and weighs about 3 lbs (1.36 kg). That's almost too heavy for me but I would still like to give it a try. It's a premium yoga mat made of natural rubber.

It feels very natural and organic, is very grippy and is probably the most environmentally friendly mat you can find. It is not as durable as the Manduka PRO mats though, because of the natural rubber built.

Which travel yoga mat you like best?

Did you find this review helpful? If you did then please feel free to use my affiliate links above to make your purchase.

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Which travel yoga mat did you decide to go for? Why? You can share your experience with these or any other travel yoga mats in the comments below.

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Manduka Begin and PRO Travel Yoga Mat


  1. This article comes in right moment for me. I left my favourite yoga mat behind at home before setting off because it was too bulky. I bought 500ruppes (7 euro) mat in India but its life is ending and I need a clever solution...light and easy to fold so I can carry in my cabin style luggage and enough cushonning so I don't hurt my knee...

    1. That's good to hear dude ;-) So which one are you getting then?

  2. I absolutely love my Manduka Begin for on-the-go yoga practice! It's lightweight, easy to pack, and provides excellent grip. Whether I'm a beginner or a pro, this travel mat is a must-have companion for my yoga journey