Om-alicious yoga mat January 20, 2007
30 out of 30 found this review helpful
I've been practicing Jivamukti-style (an ashtanga flow) yoga twice a week for about six years. My previous mat was an Ultra version, 1/4" thick. Getting used to this thinner mat was a bit of an adjustment; you sink down into the thicker mat, which helps keep you from sliding, for example in downward dog (more on this below). But having to work harder to hold the pose is actually a good thing because it will only make my hands, arms, legs, and core stronger. And I love the look of the mat. It's a very pretty shade of purple, with lavender on the reverse. The subtle raised pattern is lovely and helps me align my feet in warrior pose. I suppose it improves the traction, too. The best thing is that it's nontoxic and biodegradable. Since the philosophy of yoga is to do no harm to others and to increase positive energy in the world, it really makes sense to have an eco-friendly mat. I didn't want to get rubber or latex, however, because I have sensitive skin and mild asthma, and I was worried that those materials might not agree with me. Nor did I want a cloth mat that would need frequent washing, as I live in an apartment with no space to dry a mat. So I was thrilled to discover this new type. No nontoxic materials are used in the manufacturing process. The packaging said to lay it flat for a day to allow any residue to dissipate, but I didn't detect any odor. (You know that "new-mat smell" you get from typical PVC mats? You're breathing in gases from volatile organic compounds, which are believed to be bad for your health; do a Google search for PVC dangers.) When I first started using this mat, I was sliding quite a bit. Like I said, it does make some poses where your hands can tend to slip, like downward dog or full wheel, slightly more challenging. But the amount of traction is probably roughly equivalent to a standard-thickness (1/8") PVC mat. This one is 5mm, which is .19" (to compare, 1/8" is .125" and 1/4" is .25"). Hugger Mugger sells a 15mm version, and a 10mm version is coming in Feb. 2007 according to their website. If your hands get sweaty, or you are new to the practice and have yet to develop your arm and hand strength, you will probably slide, and you might want to try a thicker one (the price goes higher, of course). Now that I'm used to it, it's not really a problem. And I do think that the 5mm level of thickness provides better support for balancing poses. The material is susceptible to wear; the spot where my toes land when I jump back into plank pose or chattaranga (push-up position) shows some abrasion already after only a couple of months. That happens with PVC, too, though. It's a good idea to keep your toenails well trimmed and filed smooth, but I guess in the winter I sometimes let them go a bit. If it weren't for the abrasion, I'd give 5 stars. Still, I hope to be using this mat regularly for at least a year and hopefully much longer. When it gets too worn, I'll flip it over to the other side and it will be like having a brand-new mat, especially because of the different color. It's more expensive than a basic mat, but I think it's definitely worth the cost. For the price of two or three yoga classes, you can get a mat that is better for you and for the Earth!