I have been thinking of getting a new yoga mat lately. My go to ‘forever’ mat is the Manduka Black Mat Pro. I have had it for years and it seems to get better every day – even though it weighs about ten pounds and is tough to lug around. I will use it forever but I now need something to travel with and allow me to leave the Manduka in the studio.
Years ago, when I started doing yoga, I was taking classes in the cellar of a church that had concrete floors covered in tile. This was cold, especially in winter as well as hard on my knees as you can imagine. I had to do something. My first attempt was to bring a carpet sample that I simply placed under my mat. This worked fine for some years. It was great for the knees, kept the cold out, but was a little unwieldy to carry the carpet remnant and a mat back and forth. After some research, I found the Manduka and it has been a friend to me ever since.
I bought the mat in extra long because, as a student, I seemed to travel a lot from front to back and needed the extra length to keep on the mat. (I no longer needed the extra length as I have since learned to keep in one position on pose transitions but the mat doesn’t wear out)
Lugging around a ten pound mat is awkward, so a new yoga mat has been on my mind lately. I have been considering getting another mat for traveling and leaving my heavy one behind. As if by magic, Giancarlos, from Consumer Advocates, contacted me to see if I would be willing to mention their site as a supplementary resource to help yogis find the best mat fitted to their needs. I was a skeptic at first as this was an unsolicited request and wanted to check them out before passing their info along.
The biggest difference between this site and others is that they provide a lot of the background research to figure out how much of an environmental impact the mat really has. They also look into the chemical nature of mats and have recommendations that are non-toxic, easy to clean and just about anything else you can think of. It has great resources for those who care about the environment and want to practice on a mat that is as eco friendly as possible. The site not only has a simplified ‘nutshell’ view of each of the mats but options to explore further in depth any mat that you wish.
As a yoga surfer, I was intrigued by the SUGA mat https://www.sugamats.com/home1. SUGAS are made from recycled wetsuits and provide another use for them when they get old or ripped instead of just throwing being put into the landfill. They come in a 3mm three pound travel mat version as well as a full, 5mm five pound style that even comes in extra long. I was a bit hesitant, but I bought the 3mm travel version to see if it would meet my needs. Would it function not only in a yoga studio but also outside – maybe even on concrete?
I unrolled my new mat and noticed a little odor – not unlike a neoprene wetsuit and not unpleasant at all. It gets less noticeable the longer I use this mat. I first used it inside on a carpet floor– noticing how thin it was and marveling at the colors from the wetsuits – it’s not just black! The mat has excellent feel and great grip. I feel completely stable in all my poses and it was a breeze on the knees. But would it function on a harder surface? For the test I went back to my roots and unfurled it on a concrete deck. It was 40 degrees outside but amazingly; none of the cold came through the mat. The mat had the same feel and grippiness as when used on carpet. I dropped my knee down on the mat and came into a lunge pose – no problem, no feeling of hard concrete. To make sure, I tried camel pose, placing one knee on the concrete and the other one on the mat – the mat definitely worked great and kept my knee on the mat pain free.
The SUGA mat will definitely work for me on the road! I would have liked to report out on the thicker mat as well but I am sure it will perform great too. Thanks to my new friends and Giancarlos at Consumersadvocate for putting me onto this mat. If you are in the market for a new mat you should definitely check out their site at https://www.consumersadvocate.org/yoga-mats