Gaiam yoga mats: my review

Whether I travel to small towns for leisure or big cities for work, I take my travel yoga mat everywhere. I happen to think the Gaiam yoga mats are the best on the market, primarily because my yoga mat is foldable and can fit in a carry-on bag for flying. It also has no stink and is durable. I’ve used it countless times since I first wrote this.

Manufacturer | Khataland

Model | YoFoMat

Price | $34.99 – $52.58

Dimensions (laid flat) | 72″ (183cm) long, 24″ (61cm) wide, 1/4″ (6mm) thick

Dimensions (folded) | ~12″x10″x4″

Stink? | No

Overall rating | 8/10

Khataland foldable yoga mat

Why I love this foldable yoga mat

Those last three words say it all: foldable yoga mat.

I took up yoga in Summer 2017 because, 54 at the time, I was experiencing lower back pain, like most people my age. I had always thought it was because of our mattress (which, spoiler, it was not). Our mattress was expensive, albeit was 10+ years old, so I didn’t want to get a new one.

My buddy had been doing yoga for about five years and told me that at his last annual physical his doctor said, “You’re aging backwards.” I know that’s a bit of a tired — and not true — cliche, but I figured I had little to lose. We were also short on discretionary income, and this was a low-cost way to augment push-ups and sit-ups.

There is one downside to my mat, which I’ll admit up front: I have the version that’s 1/8″ thick, so when I get on hard floors, it’s tough on the knees for those cat-cow and low lunge moves. If you travel for work and want to take your yoga mat with you, don’t plan to stay at Motel 6. Those joints don’t even have carpeting.

My first mat was a BalanceFrom GoYoga mat, 1/2″ thick. It was perfect for the beginning yoga practitioner. But it rolled up and was kind of big. I chose purple, because it made me calm.

It was also what I needed at the apartment we were renting. We had beautiful floors, newly renovated in the Upper West Side NYC pre-war building we were in, but a 1/8″ thick mat would have wrecked me. It wasn’t until October 2018, when I started my heavy work travel, that I got the Khataland.

Khataland foldable yoga mat
My mat, laid flat on my bedroom floor, for my session this morning (“Essential Flow Yoga” on Nike Training app).

The #1 Benefit of the Gaiam Yoga Mat

Business travel.

Simple as that.

Hotels, especially the lower priced ones I stay at to save my organization money — my day job is fundraising for an international poverty alleviation nonprofit — often don’t have yoga mats for use by guests, let alone a gym/fitness center. And in the age of COVID, I doubt that hotels have equipment like this anyway, given the high contact nature of yoga mats.

Since I do travel lots — both domestically and internationally — I try to carry on my luggage every time. (I also don’t like to pay the $25+ for a checked bag.) In sum: the Khataland fits into my (quite carry-able) carry-on bag.

That’s the size of it.

Somewhat related to size is the mesh zipper bag it comes in. It zips easily and doesn’t snag, and it “breathes” so the mat never gets rank. I don’t sweat a lot — perhaps I’m still at that beginner stage! — so those who do might have a different experience, but my mat is pretty much the same as when I got it.


That brings me to a not-inconsequential benefit: this mat lasts. I’ve used mine more times than I can possibly count going on two years. I’d like to avoid paying even another thirty bucks for a new one. There’s no reason why it can’t last for another couple years, and that’s a real benefit to me.

It’s also possible that if I had the 1/4″ model, and used it on bare floor, that the friction would wear down the material more quickly. I use mine mainly on carpet.

No-stink benefit

I’d been told that lots of yoga mats stank. (Stunk?)

Since I’ve owned only two, I had little data to go on. Yes, I use them at the gym — at least pre-COVID I did so — and haven’t come across any that stank. But I can tell you from having done many puppy poses on the Khataland, that it does not stink.

No more sore lower back

I have to admit, I’ve slacked off my practice since COVID. I was going to yoga classes several times a week as well as using my mat during travel. So my back has developed pain once again.

But I know for certain that as soon as I get back to my near-daily practice, that I’ll lose the pain. I’ve already seen it happen.

If you travel and want a yoga mat to fold up and fit into a carry-on bag, this is your mat. Or if you simply want to store it on a shelf or behind a desk easily, this is more discrete even than a rolled up mat. (And don’t you hate it when you have a rolled up one on a shelf and it rolls off on top of you? I do.)


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