The ever constant dilemma. What makes a yoga mat a "good" mat? Should you really shell out the big bucks for a mat? Can't you just pick up a cheap-o mat from TJ Maxx and call it done?
And OF COURSE you can. There's no code that says you have to have the most expensive mat just to have it. Okay, maybe there is - but not in this community. You should get to practice on any surface that feels best to you.
My first mat was from Gaiam. It was bright and fun and cute. It was also on the cheaper side. I think I paid around $25 for it. I used it and used it and used it, never knowing there was anything else out there.
But then I discovered Manduka and I fell in love. My second mat was a purple Manduka. Lovely. Also pricier. At the time I think it costs around $50. I discovered that I had a better grip on the bottom side of the mat, so that's how I practiced. Lots of people tried to show me that I had it upside down, but I persevered. It's still one of my favorite mats ever.
After years of practicing on my Manduka I was ready for a change. I'm rough on mats and it was time for an upgrade. Enter THE MAT. People, this sweet slice of Lulu changed my life. Other than a weird fishy smell that persisted for the first few weeks of using it, I have never loved a mat so much. I have never, ever, ever slipped on this mat. It has amazing grip - even in a hot class! My lulu mat has survived my kid's bikes and scooters crushing it, countless yoga classes, many many wipe downs and being tossed wherever it lands. I have very little respect for my mat. I just use it up and move on. But, so far, The Mat is the bomb diggity. Also, it's the most expensive mat I've ever purchased. Prepare yourself. I paid $68 for it. It was worth.every.penny.
Here's the thing, if you're just starting your Holy Yoga practice and are overwhelmed by the plethora of yoga mats out there, I'm here to help.
You can walk into any target or discount store and find a mat. They're everywhere. Initially we're all drawn in by how a mat LOOKS. It's easy to lose yourself in cute patterns and fun colors. We've all done it. But the color of a mat isn't EVERYTHING. For sure you should be inspired by your mat. I would never buy a poo poo colored mat. I'd hate it. But don't get fooled by color alone.
Here's what you want to consider when purchasing a new yoga mat:
1. Grip. I honestly believe this is the most important characteristic in a mat. Hands down. There is nothing worse than slipping all over your mat in a practice. You can always dirty up a mat a little bit to create a better grip. Try putting your mat in the bathtub with some dish soap and scrubbing it with a sponge. Sometimes gently roughing up your mat can make a huge difference.
2. Durability. If you're spending a bit more on a mat you want to make sure it's going to last. Read reviews, ask your yogi friends. Find a mat that will keep up with your lifestyle.
3. Budget. Be realistic, friend. If you practice once a month with a girlfriend, I say go for a cheaper mat. You can always upgrade later on down the road. If you practice a few times a week, invest.
There are TONS of awesome mats out there. Everyone loves a different brand. What about you? Have you found a mat you loved/hated?
*P.S. I included the Jade mat in this post because lots of Holy Yogis looooooooove it. I've never used it myself, but the general consensus is that it's awesome.