My first yoga mat was crap. I think most people’s are – as a brand new yogi it’s hard to know what you’re looking for, and you certainly don’t know how much the right mat can enhance your love of getting on it! When I graduated to my dear old purple thing, the brand of which I can no longer remember, it was a revelation – my Downward Dog no longer felt like ‘puppy on the kitchen floor’, and it had just the right amount of ‘give’ to be comfortable but not too squishy. When that fell apart, after a great deal of diligent (ok, obsessive) practice, my husband treated me to my holy mat grail for my birthday – a Manduka Black Mat Pro. That was almost 10 years ago, and it’s my magic carpet to this day. It honestly is as good as new, and I really think it’s the last mat I’ll ever have to buy. Considering I practice for an hour a day every day, that’s pretty good going, and more than justifies the price tag. (Buy cheap buy twice!) There’s nothing I don’t like about my mat – it’s heavier than most, but even though I travel a lot that doesn’t bother me. I’m used to it, I have a great carry strap which doubles as my practice strap, and it never ever does that annoying roll-up-at-the-ends thing. That said, such a heavy piece of gear isn’t for everyone, and I’m also very impressed by Sweaty Betty’s grip-mats. (Yes, I’m one of their yoga ambassadors, but I never sing the praises of anything I don’t genuinely like.)
So when students ask me what I recommend they buy, what do I say? Well, I encourage them to get up close and personal with as many brands as they can, because what I like may not be for you. However, one mat which consistently comes out on top is the Manduka ProLite. Lighter in both weight and on the wallet than my beloved Black Mat, it’s a pleasure to practise on, really easy to keep clean, and lasts so well that like its big brother, it comes with a lifetime guarantee. So it comes as no surprise that it takes top place in this excellent and comprehensive review of yoga mats by Reviews.com – if you’re thinking of choosing a new mat, whether you’re a new yogi or a seasoned pro, this is a great guide to finding the right mat for you, and well worth a read before you hit the yoga shops!