Yoga Mat Speed Dating (Product Review)

jade fusion yoga mat

Photo credit: Jade Yoga

I’ll admit, I’ve become a bit of a yoga gear junkie.  When I discovered yoga more than a decade ago, I towed around my $10 Gaiam mat, and it served its purpose.   As I grew as a student, and eventually became a teacher, my desire to expand my horizons in the yoga mat department grew exponentially.  Yes, I’m a yogini, so I’m supposed to be using less, and I do.  However, as anyone who practices yoga with any regularity can tell you, finding the perfect mat that can evolve with you, is like dating.  And, let me tell you, I get around.   So, thought I’d provide my own experiences in yoga mat courtship. 

My first step up to a premium mat was the Jade Fusion Yoga Mat by Jade Yoga, a super thick open cell rubber mat with plenty of cushion for long floor holds and restorative yoga.   As you begin to expand your practice, this is a great intro mat.  Sticky doesn’t begin to the “non-slip” surface.If you want to feel what it’s like to sink deeply into downward facing dog without slipping, this is a great choice.  Plus, it’s the perfect mat if you have knee issues thanks to the super thick cushion.  Caution: because this mat is made of open cell rubber, you can’t leave it in a hot car or it will destroy the integrity of the surface.

Next up, The Mat by Lululemon.  I’d seen plenty of yogis using this mat and loving it, but the surface looked super slick, so I was hesitant to try it out.   I asked the sales person at Lulu about the mat, and they

Lululemon The Mat

Photo Credit: Lululemon

said that it was the perfect combination of stability and cushion.  When I asked about the surface, they said that it’s made of tennis grip material, so the more you sweat, the stickier it becomes.  They agreed to let me test drive one for a week.

I can see how someone who takes hot yoga classes, or someone who sweats a lot, might like this mat.  Indeed, if it’s wet, it’s grippy.  However, I just don’t get super sweaty palms (pause for joke).    If I didn’t keep spraying the mat with water, and my hands were dry, I kept slipping.  Same with my feet.  It’s a beautiful mat, but sorry Lululemon, The Mat is not for this Charmed Yogi.

gaiam sol shakti yoga mat

Photo Credit: Gaiam

And now, introducing the Gaiam Sol Shakti.  Similar to the thinner Jade Harmony Professional Yoga mat, it’s made of open cell rubber. This one has a fabric like surface so it’s definitely got the grip you need if you’re a slider.

I like this mat just fine, except the strong odor smell still persists after 4 months.  I have to wash my hands a few times after asana on the Sol.   Same price range as other premium mats, Gaiam is stepping up their game.

Finally, I’ll move to my favorite, Manduka.  I tried a friend’s Manduka Pro, and loved it.  It was so heavy, I decided to purchase the Manduka PROlite® Mat.  I loved this mat so much, it didn’t take me long to step up to the special edition Manduka PRO Black & Light.

The perfect mat for me, it’s stable but thick.  It’s got grip, but still allows me to slide into poses versus having to pick up my feet and replace them like with the Jade and Gaiam.  The PRO is a heavy mat, but I don’t mind carting it around because it’s

Manduka Pro Black and Light Mat

Photo Credit: Manduka

worth it.   It is quite slick at first because of the manufacturer coating, but it doesn’t take long to wear off.  Plus, you can expedite the process with a little salt water scrub.

So, there you have it, my trials in the yoga mat dating arena.  All mats have their pros and cons, and everyone has different needs.  For this yogini, Manduka is tops.

This non-endorsed product review has been brought to you by none other than yours truly. Step onto your mat and into being.

Namaste.

- Your Charmed Yogi

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27 thoughts on “Yoga Mat Speed Dating (Product Review)

  1. My best friend bought me the black manduka for my birthday, i had to look up the price because i hate anyone paying too much for a birthday gift. Those suckers are expensive! Anyhow…i’m still stuck on my nameless brand (green on one side, pink on the other, it was by my side all through teacher training) This mat is so soft, i could probably sleep on it. I wonder if it’s made from that open cell rubber…i leave it in my car all the time. But, i like the softness on my knees. It’s slippery when it’s dirty, but a lil soap and water usually fixes that.

    I’m guessing i need to give my manduka a better oppurtunity to impress me. So far, it seems slippery & very hard…and like you said, super heavy. I think i am overly attached to my brandless mat that my husband bought for me YEARS ago. Maybe i need to practice aparigraha…and just let the sucker go. It has a “smell” anyway, and no it’s not rubber….lol…more like perma-feet/sweat smell.

    Thanks for the input, going to love on my maduka a bit more now :)

  2. I have a manduka and a Jade and I am totally a Jade girl- The Manduka is SO heavy and I find that I don’t move into poses with as mush stability on a Manduka. Jade is my <3 mat. I finally just replaced the one I had for 10 years and it was like saying goodbye to a beloved pet!

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    • Carla- I’ve had no issues leaving my Manduka in the car. Where you really have to be careful of that is with the Jade and some of the new Gaiam mats because they’re open cell rubber and heat can destroy their stickiness.

      • If you do primarily hot yoga, I’d go with the Lululemon mat. The sweatier you get, the more you stick to the mat – it’s made of tennis grip material. Plus, if you go to a non-hot class and find yourself slipping on it dry, you can flip it over.

      • I’m actually replacing my Lulu mat. I LOVED it at first, but it has become so slippery that I’m tensing my muscles all the time to keep from sliding. (The Lulu folks I know also recommend not leaving the mat in your car, which is an issue for me.)

  6. Just bought this new yoga mat — the Stillmotion from Sequence — and I LOVE it. I’ve never seen a yoga mat like it. It has soft rubber cushions embedded in the foam in the front and back of the mat. The result is awesome grip for your hands and feet. Many of the poses I slide on with my other mat were not a problem with the Stillmotion. And I still got grip when I put a towel down for hot yoga. The mat is nice and thick so I didn’t have any problems with my knees. But it’s not heavy…actually very light weight and eco friendly. And I got a free bag! I got my mat at http://www.sequenceyogabrand.com

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  9. I just came back to yoga after a couple years away, now i have a dedicated practice of at least 5-6 x a week. I have my same nameless purple mat Ive had since 1998 and there is nothing wrong with it – but now that Im older, Id love to have something a little thicker. Most of my friends and family have the Manduka Black Mat Pro, including my niece who is an instructor. Weight isnt an issue for me as I wont be traveling with it. But I mainly do hot yoga, maybe once a week non-heated yoga. Would love to hear how the Manduka holds up for Bikram. Thanks!

  10. I just came back to yoga after a couple years away, now i have a dedicated practice of at least 5-6 x a week. I have my same nameless purple mat Ive had since 1998 and there is nothing wrong with it – but now that Im older, Id love to have something a little thicker. Most of my friends and family have the Manduka Black Mat Pro, including my niece who is an instructor. Weight isnt an issue for me as I wont be traveling with it. But I mainly do hot yoga, maybe once a week non-heated yoga. Would love to hear how the Manduka holds up for Bikram. Thanks!

    • Manduka is ok with Bikram if you get a yoga towel. You won’t slip on the jade, but it will start to stretch and can become unstable. Lulu’s The Mat is best for Bikram IMHO.

  11. You said the Jade fussion Yoga mat is good for those who have problems with their knees. How about the manduka pro lite? Is it as thick as the Jade one? My knees hurt sometimes…and I do pilates and spinning to strenghten them. I also enjoy yoga but want the best mat that is ideal for me.
    Which one do you recommend better?

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