the yoga life
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The Quest for the Perfect Mat

Some girls obsess over finding the perfect shoe. It’s been ingrained in women since the dawn of time…or the telling of Cinderella at very least! But for the average yoga practitioner, finding the perfect yoga mat is like a search for the Holy Grail. We research, discuss, evaluate, analyze and generally lust over any and all mats that seem like they can help our journey onward. And trust, when it comes to our mats, Goldilocks has nothing on how picky we are. It must be slip free, grip tight, cushy but not too comfy, and of course relatively easy to carry around. There’s good reason for our mat love. In yoga we believe all the energy from our sessions gets stored into our mats. Whether or not that’s true, any yoga practitioner will swear by our personal mats and our attachment issues we develop for them. Finding the right mat can truly help your practice, so I’m taking the guesswork out of finding the right fit for you by reviewing different yoga mats I’ve tried and love (or didn’t love!)

Start by knowing what style of yoga you prefer, and then you can select a mat from there. If you do hot yoga, Bikram, Ashtanga, or naturally work up a sweat during your flow, these are for you:

jade yoga mat

Jade Yoga Mat Pros:

  • Made from natural rubber so it’s environmentally friendly
  • Slip free and comfortable to practice on because it has a bit of a nice cushioning feel
  • The company is passionate about giving back, and does so by planting a tree for each mat bought, donating money to causes like curing ovarian cancer etc. It’s also a very raw, down to earth website, no overly fancy-pants pics or mega marketing.
  • Excellent quality and will last ages beyond when you start using it
  • Selection of travel friendly mats or every day performance practice

Jade Yoga Mat Cons:

  • Doesn’t provide amazing cushioning, so if that’s your thing, try something else or adapt a bit.
  •  It’s not inexpensive. Mats run $50 to $100+
  • Not as many colors to choose from

manduka yoga mats

Manduka Pros:

  • Great grip, designed to prevent the horrible slipping and sliding that happens during hot yoga
  • Comfortable cushioning, and comes in a thicker mat as well
  • Excellent quality and will last forever and a day
  • Good variety of colors
  • The eKo mats are environmentally friendly
  • Good selection of various styles of mats (pro, eKo, lite, etc)

Manduka Cons:

  • Expensive, running $50s to $100+
  • Very heavy, unless you buy the travel mats
  • The travel light feels like practicing on the bare floor

lululemon mat

Lululemon Pros:

My brother in law gave me a Lulu 5mm reversible mat, and I honestly love practicing on it. My old mat had taken a beating for sure, so I was tremendously grateful for such a thoughtful gift. It’s taken a beating, and it holds up so well. The Mat and the Reversible Mat are great options. The super thin travel mat is reported as being very slippery. Pros of the Mat:

  • Incredible anti-slip grip, designed from the same material as the handle of a tennis racket, so you will never, ever, ever and I mean ever slip.
  • Good color options and sleek Lulu design
  • Thick mat, but you won’t lose the connection to the floor

Lululemon Cons:

  • It’s not eco friendly, so if that’s your thing, then choose another option
  • It marks up easily. I’m not sure why, but my Lulu mat gets weird smudges that stay put.
  • The grip is SO amazing that it can be difficult and awkward to transition from poses, like Warrior I to Warrior II.
  • It’s heavy and fairly bulky to roll up.
  • It’s expensive (as are all things Lulu) but less expensive than Manduka.
  • The mats have a large Lululemon symbol that feels a little designer-lusty to me, but what the hell, right?

So what’s the big deal with choosing a mat? The story of your yoga session plays out on your mat. A mat can either help or sabotage your practice. Just that simple. That little space becomes your practice world, so it’s worth investing in a mat you know you will like.

I realized this truth all over again when I popped in a yoga class in DC and I didn’t have a mat with me. I used one of the studios, and it was a horrible, terrible, no good very bad mat. It had zero grip, and I was slipping and sliding all over the place. It completely distracted me all throughout class, and it goes without saying I was never able to find a powerful flow.

How to care for you mat: all new mats will usually have a peculiar smell when you first get them. Some brands also are a bit slippery if you don’t wash them off before you use it.This is an easy fix: mix up 1 part Dove dish soap to 3 parts water, add in a splash of white vinegar, and scrub down your mat thoroughly. Hang over you shower or some other place to dry, and this should eliminate both smell and slippery wear.

Any yoga mat brands you love or absolutely hate? Pass it on and let us know your thoughts on yoga accessories!

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: How to Have a Dynamic Yoga Practice | The Yoga Journey

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