Could These High-Tech Yoga Mats Replace Your Studio?

The makers of three new high-tech yoga mats claim their inventions simulate the adjustments of a live teacher.

The makers of a crop of high-tech yoga mats about to hit the marketplace claim their inventions simulate the adjustments of a real, live yoga teacher. But could bells and whistles like built-in pressure sensors and apps that track your progress measure up to the skills of a highly trained human?

“The reality is a lot of people still can't afford to take regular classes at a studio,” says Santa Monica, California, yoga teacher Amy Lombardo, who is the lead consultant for SmartMat, a portable, computerized mat that is calibrated specifically to each user to give real-time feedback to correct balance and alignment. “SmartMat aims to give people the benefit of customized feedback specific to their practice even if they can't make it to the studio.”

Skeptics, however, believe SmartMat and other futuristic mats like TERA and Glow Mat could actually do more harm than good. “A skilled teacher can teach and identify when rotation and load values are incorrect and even harmful based on students’ unique needs,” says Leeann Carey, a yoga teacher in Redondo Beach, California. “A programmed yoga mat can't.”

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of 3 high-tech mats slated to debut in 2015-2016: