When I first started practicing yoga regularly, it was a class at Gold’s Gym. A super buff, beautiful figure competitor taught the class in her downtime between personal training clients, and from what I remember, her classes were light on yoga and heavy on abs. She’d walk around the class while we grunted through crunches, drawling in some ambiguous accent, “Cheeezburrrrgers. Pizzzzzaaaa. Ice creeeaaam. You want to eat cheeeezburgerrrrs? Earn your ice creeeeeam.”
I think I went to class for the novelty of spending my lunch hour with a person whose biceps were thicker than my quads.
At some point I decided to commit to my practice and actually get my own mat. I chose the cheapest one available at Target. It was that standard blue color that they all used to come in (remember those nubs that would rub off and stick to your clothes and the floor?) and it was, honestly, pretty crappy. But I didn’t know any better, and for a starter mat, it worked out just fine. It was absolutely an upgrade from the loaner mats at the gym, and I felt all legit sweating through my ab set in pursuit of future cheeseburgers.
My yoga mat library is now much more robust, and just like a song can take you back to a particular time or place or person, each of my mats takes me back to a different stage in my practice. The Gaiam mat with the pretty design was when I started doing vinyasa, in earnest, at an actual yoga studio.
My travel mat is from when I moved to Austin and was able to walk to yoga (yippee!) and wanted a super light option to carry in the blistering summer heat.
My Manduka PRO mat is by far my prettiest mat, with an opalescent sparkle and a thick cushion that is the kindest to my knees and joints.
This was my go-to during pregnancy, and remains my favorite for home practice.
It’s heavy enough that I have to have a good reason to tote it out of the house.
And my pink PROlite: this is my workhorse of a mat. It’s the one that lives in my car and takes me to most yoga classes. It’s the one most in need of a good scrub down (ha!) but strikes the perfect balance (for me) of cushion and portability.
If you’re in the market for a new mat, here are the brands I’d recommend:
You just can’t beat the price points on the Gaiam mat. They’re only marginally more than you’ll pay for a generic nubby blue mat, and the quality is in a completely different league. Plus, they always have pretty prints. These are some of my current favorites:
These are seriously good yoga mats. My go-to brand, these days, though the price point is a little higher.
I use this superlite mat for all my travel needs. I mean, seriously, look how small it is all rolled up and stuffed in the basket of my bike share:
Granted, it doesn’t provide much cushion, so if your knees need any level of TLC, you’re going to need a blanket or towel for cushioning.
The eko mat is another lightweight, eco-friendly option, but with a little more cushion. I’m so into this ebb print:
This is my opalescent, cushy one.
This purple color isn’t available anymore, but this gorgeous sparkly blue is:
And those are my faves, folks! What are you currently practicing on?