As summer settles in, I've been busy as always getting caught up on projects and business endeavors (like blog posts!). I recently had a research organization - Consumersadvocate.org - contact me in regards to their findings about yoga mats on the market. It's fascinating stuff, to say the least. In it they compiled information about price, environmental-friendliness, durability, longevity, etc. These are all things I HAD TO LEARN THE HARD WAY. I wish this research had been around when I was first figuring things out - I would have saved so much money.
Before you dive into the details, here's my two cents: I have always loved Jade Mats for their low environmental impact, a focus on social advocacy, overall sustainability. Their grip is fantastic in heat and with loads of sweat; Jade color choices are beautiful, and they always just felt like a solid mat. That is, until I began practicing at home 4-6 days a week... I honestly don't remember how many Jade Mats I've gone through over the years but I can tell you I've likely spent thousands of dollars. Ugh. I justified it because I've got to admit - I love a new mat. But when my last Jade started falling apart - literally disintegrating into millions of little rubber pieces 6 months in, and sliding all over the floor when I practiced jumping forward and back (because, Ashtanga) - I knew I needed to break off my obsession. I'm sorry to Jade Mats - I truly am - but I simply cannot endorse them at this point, at least as a practitioner who uses the mat daily.
One of the studios I work for sells Manduka Mats. For the longest time I wasn't willing to give them a try. Though out of desperation I purchased one, after one serious practice where I felt like I was sliding all over the place and had little purple Jade Mat pieces attached to my sweaty body. I got the new mat online in a rush, and was super excited when it came to my door. I chose a turquoise Manduka Pro-lite for their self-proclaimed 'lifetime guarantee' (and awesome color!) and haven't looked back since. It was reasonably priced, about $65. (Jades are usually $70-$90, by comparison.)
I've had this Manduka Pro-lite for a little over two years now and it's my favorite mat. I use it almost every day and it still looks AND feels brand new. The only thing that took some time was the wearing down of an initial finish that made my hands slide a little. I'm not particularly sweaty, but I imagine this would be a problem for students who tend to sweat a lot during practice. I haven't taken this mat outside of my house - it is my designated house mat - so I can't say how good it is at a hot vinyasa practice.
Here's the link about the research on yoga mats through Consumer Advocates. It's not just limited to information on Jade and Manduka - there's also Lifeforme, Suga, Tranquility Essentials, and more. Reading through it made me realize there's so many preferences out there, and just as many mats being created. I'm now curious about the Suga mats, although I'd love to try it before buying one. (Suga, I'd LOVE to try one, hint hint.)
Enjoy, and let me know what you think.