Most of my private yoga clients are new to yoga when we meet for the first time, and the first question they ask is, “What kind of yoga mat do you recommend?”
For the past few years, I have recommended an eco-friendly mat, made by Gaiam, and sold at Target for about $30. It’s fairly sticky, and well cushioned, and one that I used for several years. I also recommended Manduka Mats, to clients who were willing to invest a bit more up front. Manduka makes a great, high quality mat for about $70-80, and it was my fave, until recently, when I fell in love with The Mat from lululemon.
After practicing on The Mat for the past month, I have no choice but to change my tune about yoga mats. The Mat is, in my opinion, the safest mat on the market, and the best investment possible, for all yoga students, and especially those who are new to the practice.
It’s $68 retail, which is a lot. Especially since I already had a Manduka mat (although it was looking really worn, after three years of daily use). I only paid $15 for my first mat, and used that one for 10 years. Everyone kept telling me how great The Mat was, though, so I took the plunge.
And now that I’ve tried The Mat, I can’t imagine using anything else. It’s the same way I felt when I bought my first really good pair of running shoes. It was worth an up front investment to be able to pursue my passion, without fear of injury.
That’s what The Mat has given me. Peace of mind, when I do what I love. Here’s why I really, truly think that every yogi, and especially those who are new to the practice, should invest in The Mat:
1) It’s sticky, and it absorbs sweat instantly. Because of this, I never, ever slip on The Mat. Even when I sweat profusely. It’s like magic…sweat just disappears, as soon as it falls.
People who are new to yoga sweat. A lot. And, as a result, they slip, a lot. It’s risky. So it makes sense to invest in the stickiest mat you can find, as a beginner. That way you can really listen to the instructor, instead of the voice inside your head, that keeps telling you that you are about to lose your grip.
Of course, you could buy a yoga towel to absorb sweat, and prevent slippage on your mat. I used a towel for about a year, and honestly, it’s a hassle. It takes time away from the practice, because you have to adjust it every few minutes. You also have to wash it as soon as you get home, so it will be ready for your next practice. And for people like me, who routinely forget to move the laundry to the dryer, it just plain complicates my life.
Stickier is just better. It simplifies our practice, gives us peace of mind, and lets us focus on what we are experiencing, instead of catering to our fears.
2) It’s comfortable. Is there anything worse than finally catching your heels in camel pose, and realizing that you can’t stay in the pose, because your knees are killing you? The Mat is 5mm thick, which is, amount of cushion for camel pose, seated stretches, and even savasana.
A lot of cushion in a yoga mat usually comes with some uneveness in balance poses. Not with The Mat. It feels exactly like I am balancing on the floor (which I usually prefer to the mat). I love this about The Mat.
3) It’s durable. I’ve practiced on this mat every day for over a month, and it still looks brand new. I bought black, instead of the beautiful jewel tone alternatives, because I thought it would wear better. The truth is that I really wanted purple (the color of the mat I used for the first twelve years of my practice), but chose the black for the sake of longevity. It was definitely the right choice.
I do need to warn you that The Mat smells like rubber for the first few weeks you use it. The smell goes away with use, and supposedly it helps to keep it in your car when it’s warm outside (can someone please explain why this might work?) It’s so great, though, that you forget all about the smell, as soon as you realize that you are no longer anxious about losing your footing.
I know I sound like one of the perky little yoginis in the stores, who loves all things lulu. For the record, I do not have any affiliation with lululemon, other than the occasional visit to our local store, and an incurable obsession with Wunder Unders. I just know that The Mat has changed the way I practice, by giving me a peace of mind, that I had never experienced before. It makes a lot of sense for beginners, who are deep in the learning curve, and it also makes things easier for advanced students, too.
It took me a while to accept that all yoga mats are not created equal, but now that I know the difference, I recommend The Mat for all yogis, and I can’t imagine practicing on anything else.
Have you tried The Mat? Did it change your practice? If not, what’s your favorite yoga mat? Leave your thoughts below.