Choosing a yoga mat is a very important step, at least for me. It not only supports your practice, it becomes your friend. I tend to spend quite some time choosing The one , analysing what's on offer, prices, colours, reviews, everything! So when my students asked me about yoga mats, I decided to write down all the information I had so far. Otherwise they would be in danger of listening for this or that brand for hours.
So here is the list of the mats I used myself. I tried to make it short and as informative as possible.
YOGA MAD (BUDGET OPTION)
If you just started yoga and don’t feel like it’s time to invest money in a yoga gear, there are quite good mats which cost up to £15.
My first ever mat was from the company named Yoga Mad. I used it for nearly a year for from 2 to 6 times/week. It didn’t wear off and is still in a quite good condition. I decided to change it because as my practice was progressing I started to do more balancing postures which require more supportive and sturdy surface.
· budget friendly
· good support for beginners practice
· light and easy to carry around
· easy to clean
· makes it easier to slide in jump back/through J
· too slippery for a very sweaty practices
· too soft for advanced practitioners
· might start to wear off after 1 year+ of intensive daily practices
I heard a lot about this mat from my fellows ashtangis who loved it. And I love it too. It is probably perfect option for those who require super grip and lightweight mat. Same as Manduka it comes in 3 varieties and I have the 3mm one. It gives me enough cushioning but if you would love to get a better support – go for the 5 mm one. I mostly use mine as a travel one as it is light and could be folded easily to fit not only in my hand luggage.
It is quite durable, for instance my teacher used hers for over 2 years now and it is still ok. It has two different types of surfaces. I personally practice only on one side but my friends say that the second one is even more grippy and useful if it’s dry and your hands are sliding off not because they are sweaty but because they are actually too dry and smooth.
· Great grip and “0” slip in pretty much any conditions.
· Good cushioning vs weight ratio.
· easy to clean
· light weight
· Price similar to manduka eko. But shhh at the end of December and July Lululemon makes a massive sale (see We made too Much section) and usually mats are on sale too.
· They are a bit smelly when freshly purchased. It will get better (or you just get used to it lol) in a couple of weeks.
Manduka eko – we were together for 1.5 year. I used it nearly daily here in London and also took it with me to India (means loads of sweat and mat unfriendly conditions lol). This mat comes in 3 different thicknesses – eko, eko lite and eko superlite. I would recommend the Lite one (3-4 mm).
It has very nice and not typical for a yoga mat surface which slightly reminds jute rug. Good cushioning, not slippery even if your hands tend to either sweat or over dry. Also if it hurts every time when you throw anything away in a Non-Recyclable bin, then this mat is for you. It is made of bio degradable rubber, so when the time comes it will fall apart not leaving any signs of your yoga sufferings (just kidding ).
· not slippery
· sturdy and good cushioning
· easy to clean
· bio degradable material
· Bio degradable material. If you are looking for a mat to build a life long relationship with, look for the next option below.
· Middle budget (around £45-50 on amazon, sales and promo take [place from time to time too).
· It wears off in 2-3 years of intense daily practice. Mine is not falling in pieces but already has distinctive small holes on its surface.
· Is a bit heavy. Even the light version is not something you would happily carry around with you specially if you are a girl. (My mat was living in the studio where I practiced daily).
Manduka Pro – is the “all the time” favourite mat specially among ashtangis and you can
trust these guys as they (I mean we) are spending at least an hour on the mat DAILY doing intense sweaty practices full of jumps, balancing postures, push ups etc.
If you want to invest in the mat which will stay with you F_O_R_E_V_E_R manduka Pro is your choice. It comes with lifetime guarantee so even if something happens to it, Maduka will refund or send you another one.
The Pro version also comes in 3 varieties of thickness.
Confession, 90% of this article was written 3 months ago when I was still a happy owner of the Eko Lite version. And that time I traditionally recommend my students to go for the Pro lite one (not the thinnest travel option as it is made for travelling not for daily practice).
Then some drastic changes happened in my ashtanga life and despite all my previous preferences I became an owner of Manduka Pro. We are together for the last three months, 2 of them were spent in Mysore, India. I travelled with it from one part of London to another and my verdict is:
It Is The Very Best Mat I Ever Practiced On.
Its support is incredible! I guess at least 40% of lifting up happens because it somehow lifts me up. Manduka says that in Pro version they weave different fibers and their complicated pattern creates firm and secure surface. However if you sweat a lot, putting a towel over this mat is a Must.
· not slippery after the break in period (see below)
· super sturdy with cushioning
· easy to clean
· sustainable material
· Break in period – sometimes new Manduka Pro can sleep a bit when just bought. It is dew to a thin protective layer on top which will break into the “main” material forming a long lasting surface. Rarely happens that the break in period lasts longer than practitioner can handle. It took me 3-4 practices to start feel "at home" on my new Manduka Pro.
· Price varies depending on the thickness/sales/promotion but in general they are 20-30% more pricy than equivalent manduka eko.