A mat is a mat is a mat and that’s that, right? Wrong! What began as a chopped up bit of carpet underlay has now been researched, redesigned, rethought and totally reformatted. Yoga mats have become a symbol of the healthy life, filled with the promise of a glowing soul and everlasting youth. Studies show that just the act of holding a mat makes you 10% healthier.
Sometimes I carry mine around just to look the part, y’know, as I stroll into town to get one of those delicious detox juices that taste of fresh compost or whatever. Actually I think they’ve got a new one now that’s made from mushroom soil and spring moss, blended with rose water and a spritz of nutritious dung. But I digress.
The important thing here is to disregard everything you thought about yoga: the zen non-attachment to things, the eschewing of materialism and capitalist consumerist culture. That’s great when it’s about stuff you don’t like that much anyway, or about other people’s stuff. When it’s a yoga mat, shit gets serious.
It’s serious because a yoga mat is so much more than just a mat – it’s practically a lifestyle in itself. It’s a daily companion, and as such it can either be like that person you ignore on the bus everyday or the person you can’t wait to see when you get home. Your choice. Some people even like to think of their mat as a travel buddy on their yoga journey. That’s a bit much, I reckon, so I settle for a happy medium and think of it as a magic carpet. Step on and take off. And who wouldn’t want to get on a magic carpet every day for an hour or two?
Sadly, my old mat couldn’t hack the demands of magic carpetry, a.k.a. daily vinyasa practice. Despite a lovely colour scheme of espresso and terracotta, it now has holes where my toes have rubbed through. On all sides. Sure it was light and grippy, we had some great times together, but flaking out after a year is pretty unforgivable. The only comfort is that it’s a biodegradable Prana ECO mat, so it won’t be sitting in landfill for the next 50,000 years. It’ll be sitting in my house, instead, in the cupboard next to the iron that also doesn’t work anymore.
I won’t be getting one of those again. Time for a new lifestyle companion. A new magic carpet. But where to start? How does one know what a mat’s like until you’re 75 minutes into a class and the sweat’s dripping through your eyeballs? Yeah, exactly. So to help everyone out there who’s in the same position, I thought I’d do some research and review a couple of the options, looking at the mats that will stand up to the demands of the serious yogis among you. I’ve got a couple of the main ones lined up, and I’ve been taking them to some good sweaty classes to see how they do. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be giving you in depth analysis of each one, so keep your eyes peeled. Don’t hold your breath, though, because that ain’t yoga.