Finding the right yoga mat can be a daunting task. For a new yogi, the selection of different sizes, colors, densities and thickness can make the choice very overwhelming. Not to mention the variety of price. I purchased my first yoga mat years ago from Walmart (yes, Walmart – sorry Earth) for just over $10. At the time, I was a college student; but now, after a decade of practicing yoga and learning the value of purchasing quality, my recent search for a new mat had me looking down different roads than my former college self. The search started a few months ago after being frustrated that my down dogs kept inadvertently turning into planks due to hand slippage (great for the core, not great for preventing injuries!). After having gone through multiple yoga mats over time, I decided it was time to go for quality – so I started doing my research. The top brands looked to be Jade, Manduka, and Lululemon. After lots of deliberation, I landed on the Manduka Pro mat and here has been my experience thus far:
This is one durable mat. Made of PVC, it measures 71 inches long by 26 inches wide, and is ¼ of an inch thick – making it considerably wider and longer than the competition, and thicker than most (although there are some mats with a comparable thickness). These size differences in the Manduka mat are noticeable. The extra width and length means that I have to do less repositioning moving between poses in order to stay on my mat, and the thickness allows my knees to stay happy. I was worried that the added thickness would make balancing poses more difficult as it would provide for too cushioned of a surface, but amazingly the material is cushioning but not overly compliant at the same time. Although mat size and durability are its biggest selling points, it also leads to the biggest drawback – the weight. At 7 pounds, you’ll get a pre-workout carrying this puppy around. Not a huge issue if you’re just going to and from the gym, but for the commuter this could be problematic. Fortunately, Maduka makes a lighter weight, albeit thinner, version called the PROlight. Now, all of this still doesn’t address my main concern in my search for a new mat: slippage. Here is where my Manduka Pro is still under the microscope. The mat is pretty slippery with first use, which, to Maduka’s credit, they tell you about right on the label. There are ways to “break in” the mat faster (ie, applying salts), but I’ve elected to just keep using the mat and see if it improves with time – which it has. All of my prior research seems to point to improved grip with use, and overall Manduka is known to be one of the best mats for preventing slippage without being sticky.
From my $10 Walmart mat to my $100 Manduka, I’ve come a long way. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” seems to ring true in this situation. As in all things in life, time will continue to tell, but so far I think I may have found my lifelong yoga “soul-mat”.
Manduka PRO Limited Edition Yoga Mat