As I settled in to practice this morning and yet again thaw my mat from the cold car, I noticed someone else’s really cool mat. Then we all started talking about our mats and what we like/don’t like and want to give a try someday. So this post may sound like a sales pitch but I PROMISE you it is my total unbiased OPINION and thoughts from practicing mainly HOT (90 degree) vinyasa yoga and some meditative/slower yoga, all on different three different yoga mats. Maybe it will help save you a few bucks and actually choose the right mat for you- or at least make you more aware of what to look for when purchasing.
My main mat that I use regularly is the Manduka Pro mat which is the thickest cushion I have seen to date. It is super thick and almost eliminates the need for a knee pad. It is marketed for use in hot yoga, but I have to be honest, even though I LOVE their LIFETIME guarantee, I do not love how my feet slip around on the surface, even after a couple years now. (Sometimes mats are slippery the first few uses until they get broken in. Almost like how new shoes might give you a blister before you wear them a few times.) The mat was definitely on the expensive side (over $100!) and I actually had to spend a little more to get a carrier that would hold its bulky size since it didn’t fit in the carrier I had for my mat before this upgrade. I also purchased yogitoes in order to help grip better but I also find that to be a bit challenging to use because if my foot drags a little then it pulls the ‘towel’ and I have to waste more time fixing it right. It’s a good concept and I suppose I should be supporting myself better and not dragging my feet or legs etc. but it happens. Every. Day.
The reason I wanted to upgrade from my older mat which was a Gaiam basic mat, was that I found the surface to be slippery when practicing hot yoga and also because it did not offer much support or forgiveness on my boney knees when taking different asanas (poses). There is NOTHING wrong with this mat if you are doing your average yoga at the gym and have access to a knee board/pad. This lightweight mat is great if you’re not sweating too much. It is also very cost effective at only around $20. (The link has it for $21.95, but I found mine YEARS ago at Dicks sporting goods for less than $20 and have since given it to a family member so they can practice.
The last mat that I own and have used is my Magic Carpet Yoga Mat and I absolutely LOVE it for my at home practice and anything that is not heated. I love it because it is just so pretty AND the design is actually laid out to help guide your yoga practice. This is the mat in the featured picture of this post. The diamond shapes are at 45 degree angles in order to help you gauge where your foot should be turned in the warrior II pose, or how far to spread your knees apart. It is a quick and easy way to check in with yourself and assess your pose. It is also lightweight and fits into my yoga sling perfectly! The mat is a bit expensive, over $100- but I did find it for just under $100 on overstock.com And did I mention it’s pretty?!
I will close this with saying that I do plan on getting another mat to practice on, especially since I’m spending so much time on it. To me it is like investing in a good pair of shoes. When practicing Yoga and moving through the poses, it is important to have a strong foundation, wether that be your feet in cresent lunge or your hands in handstand. So it is important that your base be solid and strong on a mat that is comfortable to you and provides you with the most support. For me that is a mat that has good cushion AND can wick away my sweat so I don’t slide everywhere. WHile I have yet to practice on one that does both I am on the hunt. Here are some that I have my eye on and will look into getting at some point. Manduka Eko and LuluLemon reversible 5MM mat are the two on my radar right now.
I hope this helped you at least think about what to consider when you are ready to purchase your mat. There are tons of articles out there to also check out. But definitely think about what type of practice you will be doing first.
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