The Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat promises incredible grip for an extremely competitive price, thanks to something called 'CoreGrip technology' (which translates to 'seriously stickiness'). There's no getting around the fact that the Core Balance Alignment yoga mat looks a lot like the Liforme yoga mat – which we think is the best yoga mat around right now, but which is also very pricey. Can Core Balance pull off similar performance for less than a third of the price? I've been testing this mat out for a few weeks now to see. Read on for my full Core Balance Rubber Alignment yoga mat review.
Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat review: design
The Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat has a two-layer design: a natural rubber base topped with a PU coating for grip. The rubber is non-toxic, PVC-free, and eco-friendly. There are just four colours to choose from – grey, teal, purple and blue – and a velcro carry strap comes included, which is handy for toting this around to and from classes. Alignment guides are etched into the top layer to help you check your positioning (I'll discuss these properly in the next section).
Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat: specs
Material: natural rubber with PU coating
Size: L183 x W68cm
The Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat is 183cm x 68cm. That's around a standard length, but 7cm wider than most other yoga mats, to allow you extra space when practicing. The extra width was something I particularly enjoyed, especially when it came to relaxation, being able to take your arms out wider without touching a cold floor. It was also useful in seated wide legged forward bends where my heels and bum could both stay on the mat.
This mat is 4mm thick, which again is about standard (although you can get both thicker and thinner mats). I'd say it's about the right thickness for bony joints like knees and elbows. The mat has a spongy feel to it when on a carpet but is definitely padded enough when on harder floors, and I felt supported enough in most postures, whether reclined, kneeling, seated or standing.
While most eco-friendly mats come with a rather odd smell that takes a while to go, when I opened the Core Balance mat, there was no smell, so I could use it immediately. Super impressive. The natural rubber base also means this mat doesn't roll up but lies flat on the floor, even when you first unpack it. This gets another huge thumbs up. Even better, greasy marks and sweat marks wipe off easily.
Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat review: alignment guides
Core Balance Fitness, and others, have taken the principle of the AlignForMe alignment lines developed by Liforme and adapted them. These lines help guide your hands and feet into position lengthways in postures like downward dog. There's a central line to keep you centred horizontally and reverse points to help you find a good location for your hands and feet while lying on your back. There's also a 45 degree line for positioning your heels in standing postures. These alignment lines can inspire beginners to develop a home yoga practice, helping them get into postures safely and build their body awareness.
I love the laser-etched alignment lines on this yoga mat. It feels like the right spacing between hands and feet in postures like downward dog, although I felt the 45 degree line wasn't quite right for standing postures – they could do with being further apart to allow for a much wider stance. However, the distance they are currently at is good for beginners, allowing them to explore a shorter stance to start with.
Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat review: performance and grip
This mat has Core Balance's 'CoreGrip technology'. There isn't much detail on what the CoreGrip technology actually entails but it's certainly doing its job. Word of warning, this mat can stick to itself – it's that sticky! Luckily, it doesn't get stuck to your hands or feet during the practice. There's enough non-slip to hold you steady in a hotter practice without you feeling like you have to peel your skin off it. Of course, as with any yoga mat, time will tell. Some mats start off strong on the non-slip but over time, as the surface gets worn, so does the grip.
Not only do you have a great grip on the top of the mat, but the bottom of the mat also holds still on slippery floors. This means you can confidently tackle standing balances and flows without your mat sliding around beneath you.
Liforme vs Core Balance: what's the difference?
This looks to be positioning itself as a budget Liforme competitor, so let's take a look at the difference between the two.
In terms of materials, both use a natural rubber base, but Liforme is topped with the brand's own 'eco-polyurethane', which Core Balance uses regular polyurethane. It's quite difficult to gauge the actual eco-friendliness of yoga mats in general, because plenty of brands make various claims, but Core Balance says its whole mat, including PU topper, is biodegradable, which is reassuring. The etched alignment guides are very similar.
One point of difference is that Lifeorme's mats are waterproof, whereas Core Balance's is only water-resistant. Water-resistant and waterproof are different things. With water-resistance, some moisture may be absorbed. It's easy to wipe this mat clean with soapy water, however, my advice is to not spray it too heavily as it won't repel a huge dosage of water.
Both are 68cm wide, but Liforme's mat is slightly longer (185cm compared to 183cm), as well as being slightly thicker (4.2mm rather than 4mm) and heavier (2.7kg rather than 2.5kg). Really, though, the difference is marginal. You do get a better bag from Lifeorme – it's a full, zip-up affair, rather than just a basic strap – and the design and colour range is much wider. That aside though, the two are much more similar than you'd expect for that enormous price difference.
Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat review: verdict
The Core Balance Alignment Yoga Mat is excellently priced for all that it packs; faultless grip, thoughtful design and alignment guidelines. If you're looking for a jazzier mat, this might not be the one for you as there are only four block colours to choose from. Otherwise, it's really hard to fault this mat. If you're looking for a yoga mat that has superb grip, alignment guidelines, and doesn't cost a fortune, I'd recommend this one.