The first time I tried yoga, I found it boring and pointless. Fast forward to 2016, I’ve been practicing regularly for almost two years. Like any other sport, yoga can be many things. Heated v. unheated, slow v. fast, power vs. restorative, there’s a yoga out there for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding which one works best for you.
My first Power Yoga class, I finally got the yoga craze. The heat is addictive, the intensity just right. Once you find the right flow for you, it’s time to invest in a quality yoga mat. Today I’m sharing with all of you my worst to best mats and the recipe for my DIY mat cleaner.
Mat #1: generic mat (amazon), $10ish
This mat is cheap and light. It feels plushy and looks thick from the side but that’s actually very misleading. The mat is too soft and compresses to almost nothing when you use it. It becomes very slippery once you start to sweat. As with all cheap mats, it also falls apart easily. You can see these divots my toes made after just 2-3 classes.
If you plan on doing any sort of yoga more than once, I highly suggest avoiding the uber cheap mats. Instead, search online for deals on pricier brand name mats or go to your local TJ. Maxx which always seems to have Gaim brand mats. Thickness isn’t everything! Make sure the mat doesn’t compress easily.
Pros: cheap, light
Cons: slippery when in use, falls apart easily
Mat #2: Manduka eKO superlite travel mat, $40
This mat is super super thin but still quite grippy. I can easily carry this folded up in my work bag, which is a nice option if you can’t/don’t store your mat at a studio.
Unfortunately, I do find that this mat can slip around on hard surfaces. Your hands and feet won’t slip, but the mat itself can bunch up as you flow. I got this at TJ. Maxx for $20 so it’s worth it to me as an alternative/travel mat. I would not use this as my main mat, however, due to the thinness.
Pros: thin, light, grippy
Cons: thin, slips around on hard surfaces
Mat #3: Manduka eKo 5mm Mat, $88-94
This has been my go-to mat for over a year. It’s seen many yoga classes. I’ve washed it once in my tub but I’m not sure I would do it again. The mat gets very heavy and drying can be difficult. I had wait for a warm but not too sunny day (direct sun exposure can degrade the mat) and turn it over throughout the day to ensure it was fully dry.
It might look a little dirty, but it’s just a grippy as the day I bought it. To help with cleanliness, I bring a small towel to class so I can wipe any particular sweaty areas.
Pros: grippy and plushy, very durable
Cons: heavy, can be difficult to clean
Mat #4: Jade Harmony Mat, $75
This is my newest mat, only used once or twice. It’s a bit thinner than the Manduka eKO which makes it easier to transport. I didn’t notice the thinness until I got into boat pose. It’s grippy on both side so that’s a definite plus for usability. But is also has a noticeable rubber scent that hasn’t gone away yet. It has the most rubbery feel of any mat I’ve owned.
Overall I haven’t used the mat often enough to say if it will eventually replace my Manduka. It’s a solid mat and came highly recommended by my teacher for its grippiness. The lighter weight definitely makes it more portable for anyone living in the city/without a car.
Pros: lighterweight, grippy, doublesided
Cons: thinner, not as plushy as Manduka eKo, rubber smell and feel
Not matter which mat you end up with, I recommend using a mat cleaner instead of washing in water. There are a lot you can buy pre-made, but if you have white vinegar and some essential oils, you can easily make your own mat cleaner that is just as effective.
Antibacterial Mat Cleaner Recipe
1 spray bottle (2-4 ounces)
essential oils (I like lemon and lavender. You can also add tea tree oil for extra antibacterial fighting power)
Mix approx. 2 parts distilled water with 1 part white vinegar. This doesn’t have to be exact, play around with the proportions until you get to a mix that works for me. Adding more vinegar will increase the cleaning properties of the mat cleaner.
Add 6-8 drops of essential oils. Shake well.
To use: Spray across mat, use a sponge or towel to wipe excess.