Someone searched for this topic and since I responded to Emma’s email at the time I was on hiatus, I thought of posting now my reply to her. Emma’s is not the first query I received on yoga mats. Seems like buying a yoga mat is such a big deal to yoga practitioners. And why not? Yoga mats are expensive! And oh yes, they are crucial to one’s practice. I’m copying here my reply (with revised prices this time), in case someone out there intends to buy a new yoga mat.
The choice of yoga mat indeed depends on your physical traits, as well as on the demand of your practice / yoga style. I sweat like a pig that’s why I needed a really sticky mat so I wouldn’t slip…until I changed yoga style from vinyasa to ashtanga. Unlike before, I am now allowed to roll out my yoga towel at the start of the practice so there’s no more need for sticky mat. Yoga towel gives me the traction/grip that I need. And because of yoga towels, it doesn’t matter to me anymore whether the mat is absorbent or not. By the way, the use of towels has extended the useful life of my mat! 😉 And since we do a lot of jumping in ashtanga, cushion is now my primary criterion in choosing a mat that’s why I use the 1/4″ type…and of course, durability counts because mats are expensive!
Here’s my matealogy (mat genealogy) in chronological order of use:
1. Toby’s generic yoga mat (good as a beginner’s mat, for those who are not yet sure whether they’ll make yoga a fad or a lifestyle) – Php300, my very first mat, lasted for 6 months, torn and thrown away.
2. Gaiam Bamboo 1/8″ – $20 or Php1,000 lasted for a little over a year before I converted it into a bath mat, served another year as such. Now torn and thrown away.
3. Gaiam 1/4″ Bright Stripes – $30 or Php1,500 partially worn out but still okay, I still use this for home practice.
4. Wai Lana Hibiscus 1/8″ – $17 or Php850, wore out easily, our new bath mat.
5. Manduka Eko Mat (moss) – $75 or Php3,750, felt like an asphalt road when I did downdog so I gave it away…however, the recipient loves it so much that he has used it since in place of his Manduka Pro. Different preferences. One thing I can say is that Manduka is super durable. Not a single tear after using it for months.
6. Brandless 1/4″ yoga mat from eBay – $12 or Php600 got this from my sister who stopped doing yoga when she got pregnant…I use this during our private class, now parked in my yogini-friend’s home studio.
7. Brandless 1/4″ yoga mat from Watson’s – free for every Php300 worth of purchase (I think; I got this two years ago but am using it only now) – I use this mat at the studio.
So now, I am using three mats–one at home, one for our private, and another at the studio–only one is branded, all of them are 1/4″. More critical to my practice now is the yoga towel.
Aquazorb or Yogitoes? Buy Filipino! 😉