Do you Love Your Yoga Mat?
Kind of a tame topic for me, but lots of people ask so I thought I’d chime in on some of the various styles and brands of yoga mats I’ve practiced on over the years.
I’ve broken them down into two categories – at home and on the road.
At home –
It’s grippy and absorbent. Rinse it in the shower to clean and do not leave it in the heat – it will shrivel up like a Raisin In The Sun (which is a classic book on race, by the way).
I Currently own and practice on a Lulu – Namastay.
It’s a durable entry-level mat that withstands the wear and tear of the road – I also use it as a non-slip, under-surface for the rug that lines the floor of my Sprinter van.
Turns out, the Frenchies quite enjoy this mat too… I have come to the scientific conclusion, after lots of in-depth research of course, that Frenchies like to put their butts on just about anything.
I don’t recommend Lulu’s ‘The Mat’. Even with the new name, ‘The Reversible’, it’s still crap. If you do buy this mat, soak it in the bath tub and let it dry a few times to get rid of that new-tire smell.
I’ve used my brother’s Manduka a few times and don’t like it for the following reasons – it’s overpriced and Slippery When Wet – an excellent Bon Jovi album, but terrible quality in a yoga mat.
It’s also heavy as all hell. I imagine it’s quite durable and you could probably use it to bash an attacker on your way to or from class. If you’re going to go with it, buy a towel to go on top of it, but if you’re going to go the towel route read the option below…
The first mat I ever owned was the cheapest I could find on Amazon.com. I also bought a Yogi Toes towel with it and the combo of the two served me well for hundreds of classes…the toes eventually succumbed to bacterial stench, but that’s the ultimate fate of many pieces of yoga equipment.
Still a good choice for the money and those practicing in a heated room…pro-tip – buy two towels.
Prana’s entry-level mat is soft but otherwise unexceptional, and I’ve never cared much for cork mats or foam…
On the road –
Kind of counterintuitive for a professional yogi, I officially recommend not traveling with a yoga mat –with the exception of yoga-based travel such as retreats and trainings when it’s nice to have your own – I’ve just found for the one or two times I actually use them, it’s not worth schlepping a full-size mat through an airport.
Most travel mats are too thin to provide any sort of cushion, and are there for the grip, feel, and perhaps illusion of cleanliness that a mat can provide…
Personally, I put a towel down on a hotel room floor (a good practice in general to protect yourself from hotel room floors), or look for some nice, clean grass to practice on when I’m on the road – bonus points for earthing while bending…
That said, I have owned and used a few travel mats…here are my thoughts.
Manduka’s travel mat is kind of nice because it folds instead of rolls so you can stuff it into your carry-on. It does, however, come out of the wrapper smelling an awful lot like a condom, so there’s that…
Lulu’s Reversible travel is grippy enough, but sometimes tough to keep rolled out flat because it lacks the weight to hold itself down – revealing the owner as someone who doesn’t practice too often.
Jade’s travel option is just a thinner version of their standard, and is by far my favorite. I even saw one clever yogi in class about ten years ago who owned two of these – she would stack them on top of each other for class, providing a little extra cushion, and when one got too slippery she’d stop and flip it over…later when that side got too slippery, she’d stop and swap it out for the other so she had not one, or two, but four sides to choose from.
While you’re at it, why not buy a mat strap? Nothing says, “I’m a yogi!” quite like one, plus – in a pinch – you can use one as a dog leash or sexual restraint.
(Aayo! I got one in there, after all.)
There you go, Yogis few options for those of you looking to pick up a new practice mat…
Good luck, and happy practicing!
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Justin “Jud” Kaliszewski is the best-selling yoga teacher and renowned creator of Outlaw Yoga. Author. Artist. Adventurer. Take his class NOW at outlawyogaclub.com and www.youtube.com/outlawyoga. Find his writing and art at www.justinkaliszewski.com and his presence all over the internet – for an outlaw, he’s shockingly easy to get ahold of.