What Kind of Yoga Mat?

One of the most common questions I get as a yoga teacher is, “What kind of yoga mat should I use?” This is such a personal preference, and this blog is not really a shopping guide. It’s more about the deeply profound relationship you will develop with yourself while using your mat, and how yoga supports you through your life. I might advise you, however, to invest generously in a mat that will last. Particularly if you plan on really developing your practice over time. It’s worth it.

A Few Pointers

Try not to purchase your mat from a discount store or sports outlet. You don’t want to slide all over it, or have it be so thin your knees have no support. Don’t use a foamy exercise mat with no firmness or grip. I think there are lots of quality mats on the market: Hugger Mugger, Jade, and Gaiam are a few favorites. You might want to go with a recycled or “sustainable” mat: Manduka Superlite is great for that. Okay, okay, you really want to know my favorite? The best yoga mat, in my humble opinion, is the Manduka Pro Mat, originally called, the Black Mat.

My Yoga Mat

I bought my first Manduka Pro mat in 2001. I thought it was outrageously expensive. My teacher said it was the BMW of yoga mats. I still use it every day to teach my classes.

I changed my babies’ diapers on it. I used to read & nap on it, on spring days in my yard on the bayou, while waiting for the school bus. It traveled with me to Texas when I took Shiva Rea’s vinyasa teacher training. I sweated so much I had to wash it in the hotel bathroom and hang it over the door to dry, in time to go at it again on day 2. There on my slightly damp mat, I discovered Shiva’s empowering Prana flow & made it my own.

My mat still has paint on it from when I painted flowers on my bathroom wall in 2004. It flew with me, rolled up, in the overhead compartment on a plane, every time I went to Kripalu to complete my 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training- It took me 4 years. I rolled treasures from the gift shop inside it to bring home. I guess I was hoping these material objects would somehow help me retain the depth of the deeply profound experiences I encountered during my practices at Kripalu. I sat on it and cried, alone in my studio, after my divorce, every morning for months, listening to Krishna Das singing mantra. I think I was hoping to meditate, but the mantra, the sitting, and the crying were practice enough.

Of course, my mat supported me through all the down dogs, triangles, & Sun salutations. It made me feel ok to put my face down, right where my feet had just been. On that mat, I learned headstand for the first exhilarating time. There I also learned that yoga is not really about the poses at all.

Your Companion for the Journey

The other night I was joking with someone, and I called myself a granny yogi. What a journey it’s been, and it’s not even over yet. This July I’m taking my mat to Montana to practice under the big skies, and the mountains. It will provide some cushion under my body when I sleep in a tipi.

In the early days, Manduka Pro only came in black. Nowadays you can get it in all sorts of pretty colors. I’m like a kid in a candy store looking at those. But my old black mat is the one I keep coming back to. Maybe you need a companion for your journey…

Happy shopping!


We have quality mats for sale in our studio including my favorite, the Manduka Pro.

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