Over the last 22 years I’ve had a few yoga mats. It’s the equivalent of dating around before you get married. In the quest for finding the perfect partner, you have to figure out what you are looking for.

Being the non-committal type, I practiced for a year before making the commitment to buy a mat. Yep, straight on the hard wood floors of the gym where I took classes. Sometimes if I got lucky, I could use one of the loaners that was wadded up in the bottom of the bin that held hand weights and exercise bands. Nowadays I cringe, wondering if that mat was ever washed… I think not.

When I decided I was likely going to practice yoga for awhile, I decided it was time to invest in a mat of my own… yes, I was going to be a “yogi.”

My first mat was purchased direct from Dominic, my teacher. He would buy the standard “sticky” mats in a big roll and then cut them into individual sizes. It cost $18. I still have that mat. Although I don’t practice on it, it’s  a reminder of my journey. It’s the mat I took to my first teacher training, and to India. The Guru’s feet were on that mat! It’s dirty, it’s dusty. There has been a lot of sweat and even a few tears on that mat. It’s where I learned to do my first headstand!

About 20 years ago I bought my second mat, a Manduka Black Mat Pro. That behemoth is still with me too… now that I think of it, I may have a mat collecting problem… is there a therapist in the house? Manduka came out with this super thick indestructible mat that was the first departure from the basic “sticky” mat variety. And they were pricey! I think about $90 at the time. This mat claims to be virtually indestructible and comes with a lifetime guarantee. This is the mat I lug with me to teacher trainings and events where they have concrete floors… my joints thank me. This mat gives a lot of cushion, but really isn’t convenient to hauling back and forth to practice on a regular basis. It’s sort of like hauling a couch to sit on at a little league game. Comfy, but not convenient.

When I was getting ready to open EPIC, I searched around to find the best mat options. I found Jade, which to this day, is still my favorite! Jade offers an environmentally friendly green and non-toxic yoga mat that actually grips. Plus, they are an awesome company. In addition to being eco-friendly, they plant a tree for every mat sold. They produce their mats right here in the USA and they support various causes. Plus, they work really hard. I’ve received email responses to questions from Dean, the founder at 11 PM. Something you entrepreneurs out there will appreciate. I have had several Jades over the years. They can show wear after awhile, but I don’t mind. I like a little color change every now and then. I cut up my old mats and put them under area rugs to keep my rugs from slipping.

Currently I have several Jades. One at the studio for regular day to day practice and a travel mat at home to take on the road. I love my Jade travel mat, it folds up perfectly and even doubles as a protective sleeve for my computer. I fold up my Travel Jade then wrap it around my computer and toss in my carry on bag.

I’ve tried a few other mats along the way. I found the Lululemon mat too slippery. I’ve heard it absorbs sweat and people don’t slip, but that wasn’t the case for me. I tried a yoga mat towel combo, which I hated and tossed across the mat after it kept tangling around me feet… if you were in that class, sorry. : ) The latest craze is the Lifeforme mat. It has some interesting markings which are supposed to help with alignment. I rented one of these at a studio to try and found similar to the Lulu, I slid and it had a bad off gassing smell. Not what I want to be breathing in deeply.

So, I think I’ll stick my my trusty Jades for now. The floor at EPIC is slightly padded, so the Jade give just enough stickiness without being too squishy. Want to try one out? Ask at the front desk and then let us know what you think.

One more thing… don’t worry, we clean the rental mats at EPIC, but eventually you will want your own mat. Consider it a right of passage…. plus, I think yoga mats are like underwear… even if they are clean, you still are more comfortable with your own.