Yoga knee pads are the best specialty prop to cushion your joints to prevent strain and injury. Don’t let the name fool you, these inserts are equally good to cradle the elbows, tailbone, and wrists. Here's our roundup of the best knee pads for yoga in 2021.
We have rounded up yoga knee pads – a recent but up-and-coming prop in the fitness realm. Don’t confuse them for chunky strap-on knee pads used in volleyball or combat sports. A yoga knee pad is a small insert placed under the joints to reduce stress and discomfort during asana.
Extended kneeling sessions (read: pranayama in Vajrasana), elbow-aggravating planks, and the wrist-challenging Kukkutasana (Rooster Pose) – there are a few compelling arguments to be made in favor of yoga knee pad cushions.
Understandably, most of you may not be inclined to research them. We've got you covered. Our selection is based on the following criteria -
Moisture resistant or moisture-wicking (based on your style and preference)
Easy to clean/maintain
Hypoallergenic - no rashes if you have sensitive skin
Smooth-textured and soft for comfort
Durable and hard-wearing to withstand daily use
Shock-absorbent or thick cushioning for adequate support
We’ll square up to the truth. You don’t need yoga knee pads if you already have yoga blankets. You can stack blankets for support. Then again, yoga knee pads are inexpensive. Plus, we rummaged through a bag full of them in the quest for the ultimate specialized prop.
Here are our top picks for the best yoga knee pads in 2021.
Best Overall: SukhaMat Yoga Knee Pad Cushion
Dimensions: 24” x 10” x 0.62”
Weight: 0.75 lbs
These foam yoga knee pads ticks all the well-meaning boxes - anti-microbial, biodegradable, and certified Phthalates/Latex-free. In use, the knee pad is resilient and dense. It is better at retaining its shape than expected. When sitting on top of a yoga mat, it should be a savior for sore, battered, and bony knees.
What we like:
Child Pose, Cat/Cow, or Hero Pose, you name it and the knee pads are up for the challenge. In terms of traction, SukhaMat is one of the best mat-width yoga knee pads. It’s light, easy-to-store, and durable enough for everyday use. It should - without a doubt - cater to every need of a yogi.
Best Multi-Use: Gaiam Yoga Knee Pad Cushion
Dimensions: 7.6” x 7.6” x 1”
Weight: 0.43 lbs
Gaiam sets the tone (and benchmark) yet again with their thick, soft yoga-jelly knee pad. For a hair under $20, you receive a pair of purple, flower-shaped knee pads with a 7.6-inch diameter. Each pad is made with a non-slip grip and stuffed with foam. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘jelly.’ They are not squishy at all. In fact, we would describe them as extra firm.
What we like:
From Camel Pose to Frog Pose, the Gaiam yoga knee pads sit well under the elbows or knees to safeguard or provide relief to your joints. They are manageably sized and lightweight enough to travel with. With hundreds of positive customer reviews and a trusted name to back them up, these yoga knee pads are – we believe – a no-brainer for every yogi.
Best Value: REEHUT Yoga Knee Pad Cushion
Dimensions: 24” x 10” x 5/8”
Color: Black, Blue, Purple
Weight: 0.43 lbs
The Reehut yoga knee pad has the width of a standard yoga mat so it sits right on top. At 15mm, the eco-friendly mat provides ample cushioning. It’s a no-frills pad that will cradle your pressure points or cushion the elbows, wrists, and knees when extra padding is desirable. It’s available in three color options: Black, Purple, and Blue.
What we like:
We present it as a cost-effective option, but it squares up to the competition in use. Whether you use it for Pilates, Yoga, or any form of floor exercise, the knee pad does exactly as advertised, and at a very modest cost. Now factor in the two-year warranty and carrying strap for easy storage, and that's great value for the price. Deal hunters rejoice!
Best Travel: Grazing Sun Yoga Silicone Knee Pads
Dimensions: 5.9” x 5.9” x 0.78”
Weight: 1.13 lbs
Silicone is soft to the touch, odorless, and eco-friendly. Plus, it is easy to wash and dry because it does not absorb any water whatsoever. These yoga knee pads use it to great effect in their non-slip ‘jelly’ design. The 6-inch diameter makes it easy to toss them in a bag or purse to carry to a yoga class. Yet they serve all the pain relief functions to avoid and alleviate joint injuries.
What we like:
Thickness-wise, these Silicon knee pads are a touch above 3/4th of an inch. That’s the extra-thick category, which makes them ideal for all kinds of non-yoga uses too. The concave center is a thoughtful addition and the inclusion of the velvet storage case is much appreciated. Overall, these are the top yoga knee pads for those who value quality and portability.
Best Cork: Hugger Mugger Cork Wedge Knee Pad
Dimensions: 20” x 6” x 1”
Weight: 1.05 lbs
We all have come to love cork for being ultra-sustainable and long-lasting. More importantly, the cork has natural traction that makes this wedge the ideal underlay for Hot Yoga or other rigorous flows. It’s flexible with medium give. While it can masquerade as a yoga knee pad, this multi-use cork wedge is highly versatile.
What we like:
The forward slant and firm grip make the Hugger Mugger wedge a horse of a different color. From Malasana to Urdhva Dhanurasana, there are many ways to get creative with this yoga prop. That said, the slope can pose some challenges and the cork texture may put off a few yogis. So, go for it if you want a multi-use yoga knee pad and love all things cork.
Best Printed: Crown Sporting Goods Yoga Knee Pad Cushion
Dimensions: 24” x 10” x 0.5”
Colors: Blue, Pink, Purple
Weight: 0.35 lbs
Prints are seldom a deal-breaker, but who doesn’t like some Chakra art on their yoga props? Well, we presume at least some of you hanker for zing in your knee pad. Luckily, Crown Sporting goods is one of the very few brands that offer a range of bright-colored yoga knee pad cushions with printed designs.
These high-density foam knee pads have standard dimensions (24” x 10”) and 1/3 inch thickness. They settle over your yoga mat. Notable features include a ridged texture and a moisture-resistant surface. They are durable, safe, and versatile for any form of exercise that’s taxing your joints. Sadly, designs on printed props are notorious for fading out, so there's that.
Best Review: ProsourceFit Yoga Knee Pad Cushion
Material: NBR Foam
Dimensions: 24” x 10” x 0.5”
Weight: 0.35 lbs
ProsourceFit's biodegradable yoga knee pad is a top choice for rigorous flows and fast-paced yoga. It features a ridged surface for extra grip and a non-slip texture on the underside. The non-slip design does a commendable job of keeping your knees anchored. The only downside, if any, is that at 15mm, it's not the ideal thickness for yogis recovering from an injury.
This is as eco-friendly as it gets in a category dominated by foam. It is non-toxic and latex/phthalate-free. The good of it is that you can keep it in your yoga mat and roll it up for easy storage. Plus, it’s available in four colors and comes with a lifetime guarantee. Talk about backing up a product to inspire trust!
Buyer Guide: How to Choose the Best Knee Pads for Yoga?
Yoga props and accessories are a contemporary phenomenon. Every month sees the launch of new products or variations of an established design. Some of them are commendable and others are clever gimmicks, or so we suspect. All this makes it hard to stay fresh with your research.
For each roundup, we compile a list with a few days of product research. Once we shortlist the top yoga knee pads (or any other prop), we test the available products that we aren't familiar with. In this section, we will share the insights that we picked up while using yoga knee pads.
Types of Yoga Knee Pads Cushions
If we ignore the maverick designs, yoga knee pads are currently available in two avatars -
a) A single strip or mat-width knee pads
b) Two separate knee pads (2-pack) - one to cushion each knee
The type of design dictates the size of the pad. The single strips are generally 24” x 10” or “mat-width” because they fit seamlessly over a yoga mat. They are large, so you can use them as you move between poses, especially if the yoga sequence uses the same base pose.
The 2-pack or round knee pad cushions need to be repositioned as you change poses. They range from 6 to 8-inches in diameter and 0.5 to 1-inch in thickness. These knee pads are more versatile as you can split them up i.e. place one under the elbow and another under the knee.
There are a limited amount of materials used to manufacture knee pads. That's because knee pad cushions take a beating with everyday use. They must retain their shape and very few materials are up to the challenge. Eco-friendly or sustainable materials don't make the cut.
Closed-cell knee pads don't absorb water. Other materials may be waterproof or water-resistant. This has two advantages a) sweaty yogis can cherish them and b) the knee pads can be washed/wiped after every use.
Whether you do challenging poses or prolonged kneeling, your prop should be thick enough to prevent discomfort. With knee pads, thickness equals cushioning, and cushioning equals comfort. The thickness of a yoga knee pad ranges from 0.5-inch to 1-inch.
An important point to remember is that a knee pad cushion is placed over a yoga mat. The cushioning to your joints is mat thickness + knee pad thickness. But thicker is not always better. Don’t buy the thickest one you find.
Awfully thick knee pads are less stable. You may not feel the floor, which can throw off your balance. That’s because you need to feel to the floor for perfect balance and alignment. Secondly, thick knee pads are not as portable or easy to store. You can't roll them into your yoga mat.
In our eyes, 15mm is the ideal thickness for everyday use. It’s sufficient to prevent soreness or injury. Opt for 0.75 to 1-inch thickness if you have joint trouble or an existing/chronic injury. Seniors or yogis with protruding bones should also use a thick knee pad.
Grip and Traction:
Grippy is the norm. Manufacturers recognize this as a desirable quality. Thereby, all the best yoga knee pads in the online market have this trait in common. They achieve this with traction on the underside and sticky texture above, usually via ridges or suction dots.
A good grip is essential for mobility, stability, and balance. We have only included knee pads that prevent sliding and slipping efficiently. That’s the last thing you want to worry about when performing backbends or tricky variations.
The texture of a knee pad is a secondary pursuit. The texture is ‘right’ if you like the way your yoga knee pad feels against the skin/body. Skin comfort is not as necessitated as other features, but the current catalog of products gives you enough options to indulge.
Avoid knee pad cushions with rough or uneven textures if you have sensitive skin. You don’t want to leave the yoga class with rashes or red, inflamed skin, right?
During my time in the Himalayan piedmont and other nature yoga retreats, we would often practice yoga outdoors. Either in a clearing in the woods or on the shore of a river/pond. Our ‘travel yoga mats’ were too skinny to cushion the knees from pebbles and uneven surfaces.
The joints, especially the knees and elbows, bore the brunt of it. We would fold or stack our woolen stoles or shawls to remedy this. But some of them ripped because they weren’t made to serve this purpose. What I’m trying to say is that the problem existed; the solution did not.
Back then, no one had thought of yoga knee pads. Now that they are available, I always keep one at hand. I hope you too will benefit from the products + insights shared in this post.