I am quite new to Yoga, and my first few tentative steps on the mat have been rocky at best.
Partly, because I’m inexperienced and green as they come, but also, because studio mats generally tend to be battered and worn, which, as any self-respecting yogi or yogini would know, could be disastrous to the practice. I am only now finding out that having a really good grip on your mat is one of the most important things in achieving proper form and posture while doing poses, and there’s a reason why a lot of people splurge, and I mean, really splurge on their yoga mats.
I am naturally very sweaty. Any slight activity has me soaking through my shirt in no time. Hot days are a bane of my existence, and any light-colored clothes automatically become see-through when my juices start flowing. That’s not a good thing when you’re doing Yoga. I have always been frustrated with some seemingly simple poses because my hands or feet would slip on the mats that they have in the studio. Don’t get me wrong, the guys over at my studio do their best to maintain their equipment, but I just know I need to have a firmer grip.
I knew that if I were to take my Yoga more seriously, I would really need to invest in a good and trusty mat that will have all the important features one would need for a smooth and hassle-free practice. Slipping and sliding around can cause injuries, and obviously, I don’t want that.
I asked around and my new friends at the studio unanimously recommended that I get a Manduka Pro Lite. The Pro Lite is a good starter mat because it is apparently one that has the best grip and control. A friend once told me a good yoga mat is like a trusty sports bra. It gives you all the support and the firmness you need to be able to perform better. So the Pro Lite offers all that. It is also one of Manduka’s mid-range mats that are relatively not too expensive, but is also of good value. So off to Certified Calm I went.
The Pro Lite is 180cm by 61 cm, which I must say is a lot of room. I am not exactly a petite guy, so I need all that space so that I don’t spill out of my mat during practice. It’s just the right size for me. I happened to like Fortitude, which is the red color because it is the brightest and most vibrant of all the colors on display. I tried other Manduka products in the store, and they were either too expensive, too heavy, too flimsy, or too thin for my taste. So a Pro Lite it was. I was also lucky to be given a 10% discount by a friend from college (Thanks, AJ!), which really went a long way.
A Pro Lite is not cheap, mind you. I had to give up seeing Coldplay for this because #priorities. But I know that this will benefit me in the long run, as I intend to develop a steady strong practice. I am tired of flip-flopping around with my running, cycling and dieting, and I have yet to find an exercise and wellness regimen that will keep me coming back for more. Yoga does exactly that. I am already seeing some pretty good results.
I was so excited to get on my new mat that I skipped the recommended breaking in process. The manufacturer recommends that you sprinkle your mat with coarse sea salt to prime it, but I felt it too savage and brutal to do to something I shelled out a ton of money for. I was apprehensive about breaking it in too much too soon, so I tried it out fresh from the packaging. I noticed that the natural stickiness of the surface helped, so it turns out I didn’t really need to break it in at all. I guess with constant use, you just get used to it and the mat kind of grows to understand your own needs.
Three things that I automatically love about the mat are: the grip, the non-slide “wrong side”, and the thickness/density. I am absolutely in love with the grip. I flowed through my regular 1-hour long Vinyasa home practice series, and I didn’t have any trouble staying in some of the poses that I would normally have difficulty with on a slide-y and slippery mat. It stayed really tacky even though my sweat was pooling one it. I was dripping buckets onto my mat and it wasn’t even the slightest bit slippery.
Then there’s the bottom surface that really sticks to the floor, with its dotted grips. It really stayed put and remained grounded to the floor when other mats would normally fold or crease, shifting the whole thing either forward or backward.Lastly, the thickness and the density of the material is so friendly to the knees. It gives me all the cushioning I need so that I can stay in kneeling poses longer and more comfortably.
I am so excited to put this new bad boy to work. I have been hearing a lot of glowing recommendations about the brand, and I am glad to have something that I can really rely on for my practice. A lot of people also say that they chose Manduka because of the guarantee, which is something that I would really appreciate. Apparently, the guarantee is quite generous and Manduka obliges with new ones for well-worn mats because it’s not supposed to deteriorate. It sounds like a company gimmick, but apparently, it’s all in the science of the material used in the mat. Manduka embraces an environment-friendly and low impact manufacturing philosophy, and I am all for that.
Cleanup is also quite easy. You just wipe it off with a towel, and allow it to dry before rolling it back up. They have special cleaning solutions that you can spray on it, but that will have to wait for another trip to the store. For the mean time, I will use and abuse the mat spray that they have at the studio. For portability, I got the Manduka Commuter Sling instead of one of those yoga bags, which is the perfect way for me because it doesn’t have to encase the mat in some material and lock moisture in. I would want my just-in-use mat to breathe and dry properly to avoid mildew, mold and odor.
I have never been so excited to break a sweat, so I say yay! Shopping therapy and wellness motivation in one. What can beat that?
Do you have your own favorite mat brands? What other yoga equipment can’t you live without? Let me know in the comments. Namaste!