Despite being a long-time fan of Manduka’s black mats, I’m still waiting for the perfect mat. The archetype for my perfect mat would combine the best features of the Prana Revolution Sticky Mat with Manduka’s Black Mat Pro, and here’s why.
Revolution: The Perfect Dimensions
Designed in collaboration with Anusara founder John Friend, the Prana Revolution mat offers the perfect dimensions for yoga practice — 78 inches long and 30 inches wide — 4 inches wider and 7 inches longer than Manduka’s standard mat.
I own the Revolution as well as Manduka’s larger mat, which is 85 inches long and 26 inches wide. What I’ve learned is that Manduka’s mat is longer than I need (and those extra inches add to its heavy weight). But Manduka’s standard length of 71 inches is too short. This is why I find Revolution’s dimensions to be just right: 78 x 30.
If you’re tall, the Revolution’s larger dimensions make it easier to achieve proper alignment in poses like Downward Facing Dog or plank pose. And if you take classes in crowded urban studios, those added inches give you just enough breathing space from your fellow yoginis.
Like the Manduka black mat, the Revolution has a very dense and stable foundation: it won’t stretch or slip even when you’re jumping from one pose to another. (This stability is in striking contrast to some of Prana’s less expensive mats.)
The design-sensitive side of me also prefers the Revolution’s grass green color to the sober black of the Manduka. I also like the whimsy of the cute yellow-green Anusara logo placed in an unconventional spot on the mat.
I don’t like the white bloom that appears on the surface after a few moments of practice. It disappears right after cleaning, but reappears as soon as you resume practicing. (You can see the bloom in this photo.)
Both Mats Are Too Heavy
At almost 9 pounds each, both of my mats are quite heavy — and seem even more so while walking multiple city blocks from my parking spot to the yoga studio. If you carry this weight over your shoulder multiple times a week, it can really give you a sore neck or shoulder.
My perfect mat would weigh closer to 4 pounds — much like the weight of a well-balanced laptop computer.
Having said that, if your sticky mat is used only for home practice, this weight isn’t really a factor.
Note that Manduka’s smaller (standard size) mat weighs less, 7 pounds instead of almost 9.
How Well Do They Grip? Manduka Is Better
Neither mat is very sticky when brand new. If you don’t set your foundation just right, you’re vulnerable to slipping even in warrior poses. It took months of use before I stopped slipping on the Revolution. And even so, I bring a skidless towel to class to put on top of the mat.
I think the break-in time for a new Manduka black mat is somewhat shorter than for the Revolution, but the Manduka is also too slippery during its first month or two of use (even longer if you don’t practice on a daily basis).
The yoga teacher who sold me the Manduka mat advised cleaning it daily with a rough towel and mat-friendly cleanser, and “scrubbing the heck out of it” — her secret for breaking down the manufacturing residues that prevent a new Manduka from gripping as well as it’s designed to do.
After each mat has been broken in for a year, the Manduka’s surface affords a surer grip for sweaty hands and feet than does the Revolution. But on hot summer days or in warm studios, even a well-used Manduka is too slippery midway through practice if you suffer from sweaty hands and feet.
Neither One Is Perfect
In my home studio where I have the luxury of space, I go back and forth between the Manduka and the Revolution during daily practice. I’ve learned to prefer one mat over the other for certain poses — a clear sign that neither one is ideal.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to buy a mat with the wonderful dimensions of the Revolution and the superior grip of the Manduka — and a shoulder-friendly weight of 4–5 pounds.
That would be a happy day.