People don’t always think of yoga as the most physically demanding activity. But those in the know really know—yoga can get sweaty. When you’re in a hot yoga class (or simply an extra-vigorous vinyasa session), it’s only a matter of time before the perspiration starts to flow. This is a lovely benefit, but with the sweat comes the need for better gear: Namely, a yoga towel to place over your mat so you don’t slip around.
A good yoga towel will sop your sweat, keep your hands and feet from moving in postures like downward dog, adhere to your mat (no scrunching!), and be comfortable enough to support your savasana. It’ll also stand the test of frequent washing.
The Best Yoga Towels
Best for Hot Yoga
Gaiam Grippy Non-Slip Yoga Mat Towel
- A no-frills towel that does the job without attracting much notice
- Microfiber upper with rubber backing
- 68 inches long, 24 inches wide
- May not fit perfectly on non-Gaiam mats
Soft, grippy, absorbent, and durable, the budget-priced Gaiam Grippy Non-Slip yoga towel was by far my favorite of the bunch. I took it to several 100-degree hot vinyasa classes and appreciated that it helped my hands and feet stay steady.
The mark of a good yoga towel is that you don’t notice it. This microfiber yoga towel achieves that. I never had to readjust it because it stayed stuck to my tried-and-true Lululemon yoga mat. The rubber backing is substantial—more than those on the other towels we tried—and effective for keeping the towel in place. And the microfiber top feels soft while keeping your hands and feet in place during fast-moving vinyasa classes. I dripped sweat for the entire class but found that the towel soaked my sweat right up. It also survived being washed and dried multiple times without consequence. (The towel’s softness might wear down over time, though.)
The only true downside of this yoga towel is that it’s a bit narrow. It was thinner than my Lululemon yoga mat, which meant that I had a strip of mat on each side that wasn’t covered by the towel during my practice. This isn’t a huge issue because your hands and feet rarely need to be placed at the edges of the mat. If you care, you may want to consider the wider Shandali or Pefi towels. The Gaiam also features a pretty simple print of solid colors, compared to the artful prints of some of the other towels we tried.
Best Travel Yoga Towel & Mat Combo
Yoga Design Lab 2-in-1 Mat and Towel
- A gorgeous mat-towel hybrid that’s ideal for on-the-go practice
- Microfiber top and rubber base
- 70 inches long, 24 inches wide
- Decent traction
- Cool design
- Tough to deep clean
- Lacks padded support
The Yoga Design Lab 2-in-1 Mat and Towel isn’t a traditional yoga towel; it’s a mat and towel combined. But I think it’s a great travel option for hot yoga practitioners who want an option they can pack in a suitcase or the trunk of a car without concern. The 2-in-1 weighs less than 2 pounds, far less than a traditional yoga mat. It curls up into a minuscule roll that can be easily tucked under one’s arm or in a gym bag.
I took this mat to a 125-degree hot Pilates class. Despite the heat, it was completely functional; the perfect non-slip yoga towel. My hands and feet stayed steady on the microfiber top, which was also very soft and comfortable. Water beads onto it when you sweat and sits there for a bit, but eventually soaks in. And the mat stayed put on the studio floor, too.
Because this is a mat, not a towel, you’ll want to hand wash it with a spray and towel. You can throw it in the washing machine and air dry it, but the rigidity of the mat and the space it takes up makes this a bit of a pain. The mat took about 15 hours to fully dry after being washed. It’s also not very thick, so it won’t provide padded support to your knees or hands during intense practice. But despite these downsides, it’s a great purchase for hot yogis on the go. Unsurprisingly, it’s also one of our favorite travel yoga mats.
Other Yoga Towels To Consider
Pefi Non-Slip Hot Yoga Towel
- A fun, patterned towel at a decent price
- 72 inches long, 24 inches wide
- Stylish, fun pattern
- A tad slippery
The Pefi Non-Slip Hot Yoga Towel is a solid option. It feels similar to the Gaiam towel, but with a fun tie-dye pattern and a softer microfiber top. I would have picked the Pefi as the winner except for one thing: my hands and feet slid on the microfiber. (You can always spray the Pefi with a bit of water to increase traction, but the fact that the Gaiam towel offered superior traction without water pushed it to the top of the list.)
I liked that the Pefi was wide enough to cover my entire yoga mat, but is still lightweight and folds up small. The microfiber top is soft against your skin and the tractioned underside of the towel keeps it from moving even during vigorous practice. (I took several 120-degree Pilates and yoga classes with this towel, and had no issues with the towel itself moving.) My hands and feet tended to slide in downward dog and warrior II, though. The towel is also very absorbent—sweat doesn’t bead onto it, it soaks right in, but the towel dries quickly. The brand’s instructions say to machine wash the Pefi towel but hang it out to dry. This is annoying but likely meant to keep the tractioned underside durable for a long time.
Shandali Stickyfiber Hot Yoga Towel
- A lightweight, moisture-absorbing towel
- Microfiber top and silicone bottom
- 72 inches long, 24 inches wide
- Lightweight and easy to pack
- Hands slid in some poses
The Shandali Stickyfiber Hot Yoga Towel is the lightest weight of any of the towels I tried. It almost feels like netting, but still absorbs moisture well. That said, it’s not quite as tractioned as the Gaiam towel. The Shandali’s underside has silicone dots which keep it attached to the mat and the floor, but my hands and feet still slid just a bit in high-pressure poses like downward dog.
During a 135-degree yoga isometrics class, I was pleased to find that I didn’t have to readjust the Shandali towel. The super-sweaty class also proved to be a good testing ground for the mat’s absorption and drying—and it proved to be a true quick-dry yoga towel. I even took a shower at the gym after the class and used it to dry off; it soaked up water quickly and was dry again within about an hour. The microfiber top isn’t the softest of the towels I tried, but it still felt fine against my skin. And it came out of the washer and dryer just as durable as it went into the machines.
Is Hot Yoga Healthy?
Yoga itself is a healthy practice. Comparatively, there isn’t as much research on hot yoga, but studies out have identified some clear benefits (and a few downsides). International Journal of Health, Wellness & Society “The Risks and Mental Health Benefits of Hot Yoga Participation for Adults with Anxiety and/or Depression” View Source found mood improvements post-yoga practice in people with anxiety and depression, as well as decreased symptoms long-term. International Journal of Yoga “Cardiovascular, Cellular, and Neural Adaptations to Hot Yoga versus Normal-Temperature Yoga” View Source study looked at the benefits of hot yoga versus non-hot yoga, and found that they both promoted cardiovascular fitness equally. Stretching when your muscles are warm can also increase Journal of strength and conditioning research “Bikram yoga training and physical fitness in healthy young adults” View Source . (This increased flexibility can encourage overextension and potential injury, though, so it’s important to not get carried away in a stretch and pay attention to cues from your instructor.)
The bottom line: Hot yoga is “healthy” in that it strengthens your body, provides anti-stress benefits, and promotes cardiovascular health. If you love the heated aspect of hot yoga, feel free to flow and sweat away. If you prefer non-heated classes, you’ll gain many of the same benefits.
When you opt for hot yoga, it’s crucial to drink water (and possibly an electrolyte beverage) before, during, and after class. Even if you’re hydrated, there’s a risk of feeling light-headed, nauseated, dehydrated, or dizzy because the room is so hot. If you start to feel these symptoms, take a break from the flow and lie down on your mat. And if you’re pregnant or dealing with health conditions that make exposure to heat risky, check in with your doctor before signing up for a class.
All in all, the International Journal of Yoga Therapy “Self-Reported Benefits and Adverse Outcomes of Hot Yoga Participation” View Source of hot yoga—flexibility, improved mood and fitness, and improved stamina—seem to outweigh the risks for most people.
Do You Need A Towel for Hot Yoga?
Yes. In a 95-degree (or more) class, you’ll likely start to perspire even before you start your flow. By the end of class, you might find that you’ve created a puddle with your sweat. A towel helps absorb this moisture and create traction, preventing what could be a gnarly slip on a slick polyurethane mat and making it as useful a prop as a yoga block or strap. Yoga towels also help keep your hands and feet in place, helping prevent muscle tears and overstretching. For this reason, many hot yoga studios require towels (and offer rentals at $2 or $3 a pop if you forget).
You don’t have to shell out on a special towel if you’re just starting out. In your first few classes, a bath or beach towel will work just fine. But if hot yoga becomes a consistent part of your routine, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated yoga towel that fits flush with your mat and absorbs sweat.
A towel can be helpful for non-heated classes, too. Some people just sweat more from their hands and feet. A yoga towel can provide some extra security in poses that might otherwise cause slipping.
What’s The Difference Between a Yoga Towel and a Regular Towel?
Most yoga towels are made with absorbent microfiber, as opposed to the cotton of a regular towel. Cotton doesn’t dry quickly, which means you may need to lie down on a wet surface for savasana if you choose to bring a bath towel to class.
Most yoga towels also have a tractioned bottom (often silicone beading). This keeps the towel steady on your mat during class. If you use a mat without this traction, you’ll find yourself adjusting it constantly.
Yoga towels are also generally thinner than regular towels; this light weight is ideal because it allows the towel to dry quickly during class, and it’ll fit right up against your mat. (A better fit means less movement, which is always a win). A thin yoga towel is also easier to roll up and carry to and from the studio.
How We Found the Best Yoga Towels
Meet Your Guinea Pig
I’m Jenni Gritters, a journalist with 10 years of experience covering science, health and psychology. I have written product reviews for publications like Reviewed, Wirecutter, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Slate, and you can find my essays and reported stories in the New York Times and the Guardian. I was previously an editor at Wirecutter where I covered parenting gear, outdoor gear, and travel apparel as a writer and editor. I’m also a certified yoga teacher.
Our Testing Process
First, I spent a few hours researching the best hot yoga towels. I read guides written in other publications, learned about the absorption benefits of microfiber and other materials, and checked out hot yoga blogs. I also read hundreds of customer reviews on Amazon and beyond. After this, I pulled together a list of 10 hot yoga towels. Eventually, I chose six to test based on their costs, materials, reviews, and sizes.
Once the towels arrived, I tested each in a hot yoga or Pilates class. I’m a trained yoga teacher and I’ve been practicing hot yoga for years. I prefer hot hatha and hot vinyasa classes, although I also tried hot Pilates and hot isometrics during the testing for this guide. I took each towel to one—and sometimes two—90-minute classes. Then I washed and dried it according to the brand’s instructions. After washing the towel, I checked to make sure the grip was still intact and took notes about whether or not the washing caused any pilling or material breakdown.
The Yoga Towel Buying Guide
A good yoga towel should be:
Absorbent: It’s very important that a hot yoga towel soaks up your sweat during a hot yoga class; ideally, the moisture should soak in immediately versus beading on the surface, and the towel should dry quickly, too.
Non-Slip: It’s very important that your yoga towel stays adhered to the mat beneath it; most towels achieve this through rubber or silicone tractioning on the underside of the towel. It’s equally as important, from a safety perspective, that your hands and feet don’t slide on the towel while you’re practicing yoga. A good yoga towel is one that you don’t notice during class, because it doesn’t move or wrinkle. There’s nothing worse than feeling distracted by your practice because you have to keep resetting your towel!
Durable: Because yoga towels get covered in sweat, they need to be washed frequently. They should be able to withstand constant washing and drying, without much breakdown. No fraying or pilling!
Comfortable: Because you’ll be lying on this towel, especially at the beginning and end of class, the fabric should be comfortable against your skin. Most yoga towels are made with microfiber.