How I Found My Dream Yoga Mat

Kate Hanley by Kate Hanley | July 22nd, 2009 | 21 Comments
topic: Fitness, Yoga

Me on my blue beauty

Me on my new blue beauty

I just had the pleasure of test-driving an array of brand-spanking-new yoga mats — research for a Gaiam article on how to choose the right yoga mat. This was particularly exciting to me because I’ve had my current yoga mat for over 12 years. And although I’ve practiced on it hundreds, if not thousands of times, it is showing no signs of wear and tear.

I’d been telling myself there was no reason to shop for a new mat since I didn’t technically need one. But when that box of mats arrived at my door, I realized that after 12 years of a mat that didn’t speak to me in any way, I was craving a mat that would whisper, “Roll me out and let’s get practicing!”

I share my experiences with you now in the hopes that it will help you, too, find a mat that makes you excited about practicing — whether you’re a new or experienced practitioner, a hot and sweaty type of yogi or more of a stretch and breathe type. Because with all the new styles of yoga mats that have come on the scene in the last few years, there is definitely a mat out there that suits you to a T.earth-lovers-yoga-mat-rolled-cropped

I first tried the Earth Lover’s Yoga Mat — a real beauty made from natural rubber that was perfectly sticky, cushiony without being too soft, and a gorgeous shade of dark brown (which just so happens to match my décor perfectly). I really enjoyed my practice on this. But the problem came when I went to roll it up and put it in my filled-to-bursting wicker basket that holds all my yoga props. It just didn’t roll up compactly or easily, which in my New York City apartment-dweller reality is a deal breaker. I’m going to use it as a floor mat for my 18-month-old daughter’s play area, in lieu of the alphabet mat I haven’t gotten around to purchasing. (That’s how small our apartment is, that her play area is the size of a yoga mat.)stay-put-yoga-mat-flat-cropped

Next I tried the Stay Put Yoga Mat. I generally practice in the living room on top of a rug, but on this day it was raining and my sitter was in the living room with my daughter. So I cleared some space on the bedroom floor (which is hard wood) and laid the mat out there. Although the label says it is suitable for use on a wood floor, I didn’t feel secure on this mat — it slid a little bit when I first stepped on it. Great for a carpeted studio (as many hot yoga studios are), but for my home practice, it wasn’t right.

Finally I tried the Premium Eco Yoga Mat. I liked that it was made of natural materials — rubber tapped from a living tree and cotton — and was therefore easier on the environment. It had just enough cushioning to helpremium-eco-yoga-mat-rolled-croppedp the tops of my feet be comfortable in virasana (hero pose) but not so much that I didn’t feel grounded in my standing poses or headstand. And the raised geometric pattern kept my hands and feet exactly where I placed them, without any funny slurpy noises that some sticky mats can make when you lift your hands or feet up off the mat. It also had a satisfying heft — the corners never curled up, even after I first unrolled it. Best of all, it rolled up tightly and slid right in the tiny little space available in the basket of props. We’ve been practicing happily together for about a month now. Best of all, every time I look over and see it, I get excited and start planning my next session.

As for the mats I’m not using, I’m going to Freecycle them and hope that they find a home where someone will be as excited about them as I am about my new blue beauty. (I also love these 50 ideas for reusing your yoga mat.)

If you’ve been feeling like your home practice needs a little kick in the pants, maybe it’s time to find a new home. Here’s a guide to finding the right yoga mat for you.

Comments

  1. What was the mat you had that lasted 12 years? Great article!

    Merri | July 23rd, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  2. Hi Merri,
    I bought that trusty purple mule of a mat from a random discount website that is no longer in existence. I’m sure it’s PVC, but it is denser and heavier than your standard sticky mat. I’ve never seen another one like it — it’s a mat of mystery and wonder! Glad you liked the article. :)
    Kate

    Kate Hanley | July 23rd, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  3. Great information. Thank you.

    I’ve been in the market for a new mat for about 6 months now, and I can’t quite find what I’m looking for. I’m very tall, so I need a longer mat than most, but I’d also like an eco-conscious mat.

    Any chance the Premium Eco Yoga Mat comes in longer lengths?

    Tashia | July 23rd, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  4. [...] by Kate Hanley’s blog post on finding her “Dream Yoga Mat,” yesterday we decided to give six lucky Facebook fans and Twitter followers the chance to [...]

  5. Hi Tashia,
    To my knowledge, no, the Premium Eco Yoga Mat does not come in longer lengths. Bummer! Good luck in your quest for your dream yoga mat.
    Kate

    Kate Hanley | July 27th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  6. Hello Kate,

    I couldnt figure out how else to contact you. I read your article Sleep On It and it worked out well on the first night. I just wanted to let you know that I posted about it at my blog because Im very comfortable today. (We do not allow links in comments).

    Lucy

    Lucy | September 16th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  7. Hey I liked your article , thanks for sharing your experiences here . The mat which lasted you 12 years would be the best buy you have had over the years , isn’t? Glad you finally got the mat of of your choice , the Premium Eco Yoga Mat . Anything made from natural material is my first choice .
    How to choose the perfect Yoga mat – http://www.a2zyoga.com/blog/index.php/2010/07/12/how-to-choose-the-perfect-yoga-mat/

    Katherine Roberts | September 7th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  8. Hi, I’m doing yoga mat research for my blog http://yogamatreview.org, it’s all about yoga mats. I must say that Gaiam products seem to be amongst the highest quality yet the most affordable on the market. The ratio of price to quality is simply unbeatable. I think Gaiam needs more aggressive marketing in order to make their products more popular, as they are simply great. Keep up the good work, the kind people of Gaiam.
    (And yes, I own a Gaiam mat that I purchased five years ago and it’s going strong.)

    Yoga Mat fanatic | January 11th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  9. Give old yoga mats to your friends with pets. They are great liners for dog crates and the areas of cars where you allow your dogs to sit, and cats and dogs living in houses with hardwood or tile floors will sit on them rather than on the floor. And you can wash them in the shower. I’ve got a cat with a broken hip and the old mats are keeping keeping him from falling in the area where he’s convalescing.

    Nancy | January 14th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  10. Your articles is very interested and you have shared a great experience with all of us.

    Yoga New York City | September 16th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  11. Hi

    Firstly, this is a great article. Really helpful for amateur yogis looking to buy a mat.

    But I just wanted to clarify 1 thing. In your article, you said that you tested the Stay Put Yoga Mat on hardwood floors. I just wanted to know if you tested the Premium Eco Yoga Mat on hardwood floors also. Because the mat I currently have is a Valeo (1/8″ thickness) that I found at a local sports store, and pretty uncomfortable on hardwood floors. The studio I go to has hardwood floors, so I just wanted to make sure that it would be comfortable enough on hardwood floors.

    Thanks for all the help

    Vanadis | October 2nd, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  12. So glad I read this article first before looking for my new yoga mat! There are a lot of points of concern that you’ve touched. Thanks a lot for this.

    Bess | April 9th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  13. Great advice, Kate. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut and not even realize it sometimes. Plus any excuse to go pick out some new gear is usually a good one, right? :)

    GSD | June 15th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  14. It is amazing how some new gear can give you a boost! Glad you found it helpful. I am still using the mat I chose and it is still rockin’. Cheers!

    Kate Hanley | June 18th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  15. I am looking for a great yoga mat. I need to find one like yours. I am starting yoga next week.

  16. Cool post. Trying lots of different mats is the key to finding the right one for you.

    Surface Shields | January 16th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  17. When I go to the Gaiam website, the Premium Eco mat only comes in purple and brown. Where did you find the blue? I am definitely interested in other colors.

    Lindsay | January 21st, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  18. I actually see now that the mat is discontinued. Do you have an equal substitute recommendation?

    Lindsay | January 21st, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  19. Hi Lindsay,

    Thanks for reaching out! Our yoga mat selection has changed quite a bit since this blog was written in 2009, but I’m sure we can find you something you’ll love. If you’ll visit our Yoga Mats page (http://bit.ly/1e1rOvv) and scroll down a bit, you can use the buttons in the left column to refine the search, by things like color, thickness, material, “Green,” etc. We’re also working on a fun, interactive yoga mat guide to help make choosing the perfect mat even easier.

    Based on your feedback, I think our Wisdom Print Eco Rubber Yoga Mat might be a good choice for you: http://bit.ly/1fidVYb. It’s eco-friendly (made from rubber and biodegradable), has great grip, and it’s gorgeous :)

    Hope that helps!

    Valerie @ Gaiam

    Valerie Gleaton | January 24th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  20. Hello Kate,

    I bought a Jute mat 5 years ago, just because I liked its texture and the roughness on it, thinking it will allow me to stay in my postures for a little long time. But unfortunately it never allowed me to be in any posture peacefully. Instead of focusing on breath, I unconsciously started to find how long that will allow me to be in the pose. All this led to hurrying up my practice and later a disinterest to go on it… :( Now I definitely need to go back on to it as my body has grown out of its comfort shape :P Please let me know the best one ! Does rubber mats slip as well? Do they wear away?I’ve never a PVC one though, would like to know about it…

    Thanks.
    Keerthana

    Keerthana | February 6th, 2014 | Comment Permalink
  21. I love the description of the mat you chose, but when I look for it on the Gaia website or click your link in the article, I can find one that matches your description.

    heather | February 15th, 2014 | Comment Permalink

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