In a few weeks I’m heading off to a yoga retreat — my first-ever trip to Mexico. Hoping to travel light, my mind keeps pondering the question of which yoga mat to bring.
I’ll be challenged with 4 hours of practice daily for 6 days, so choosing the right mat is not as trivial a question as it might seem. Well beyond my physical comfort zone…
As with sailboats, there is no perfect option: each mat has definite pros and cons. My options are:
- Bring no mat — take my chances and use whatever the retreat center chooses to provide
- Bring an all-rubber Jade Harmony professional mat
- Bring my extra-long Manduka mat
I’ve ruled out the travel light, bring-no-mat option. Given the time and money I’m investing in this retreat, it would be a shame to jeopardize the experience by having to use a crappy mat while there.
So the choice comes down to the Jade Harmony versus the Manduka. Here’s how each one stacks up for this Mexican yoga retreat.
- Weighs half as much as my Manduka (about 4 pounds lighter)
- Works better in a heated room (or a hot climate) before my sweaty hands and feet start to slip
- Nice cushioning under my hands and fingertips, especially in DFD
- Pretty blue color
This mat is flexible enough to be folded into a large duffle bag that could also hold my clothing and yoga accessories. I’d prefer not to incur a baggage check fee just so I can bring my own mat. (The round-trip fees for checking an extra piece of luggage on an international flight would buy a new mat!)
- Sometimes too short for some vinyasa sequences or reclining poses
- Unstable in some balance poses, especially when moving from a static balance pose to another pose
- Deforms under my back foot in warrior poses or lunges when the mat warms up during practice
- The open cell rubber sometimes “catches” my legs during low-to-the-ground “jump through” transitions
In Mexico I’ll encounter daytime temperatures in the 90s, so the mat will probably deform under my feet more quickly or more often than it does in Pacific Northwest yoga studios. I’m somewhat concerned about this risk.
Net net: the Jade is a better traveling companion, but offers a less stable foundation than the Manduka.
Manduka Black Mat Pro
- Stability, stability, stability
- Plenty of room (it’s the extra-long model)
- Well loved, well used — lots of great karma associated with this particular mat
- It’s heavy
- It’s less grippy than the Jade Harmony, so I’ll have to use a micro-fiber towel on top to absorb the sweat
- It cannot be folded into a duffle and would require its own travel bag (adding $50–100 in extra luggage fees)
The Manduka’s extra weight is not too bad if I must carry it only during transit between home and my destination. If it’s unsafe to leave in the open air studio, I face the hassle of carrying it back and forth twice a day. We’ve been warned about the risk of theft (don’t bring valuables), so it’s quite likely I’d be lugging this 9‑pound monster many times during the week in Mexico.
Net net: the most stable foundation I could wish for, but not a good traveling companion. $50–100 penalty to bring this mat…
My mind is not yet made up. Two more weeks before I must decide which is the better option.