What yoga mat should I buy? Ironically, the wealth of options can stress you out. The answer, however, depends on what styles you practice. Here's a review of two of the most popular mats out there today.
Manduka Pro Mat. Many consider this the Rolls Royce of Yoga Mats. It is firm, very durable, comes with a lifetime warranty, and after the break in period, will provide excellent grip for all styles of yoga, even heated classes. It comes in two lengths, 71” or 85”. Originally only available in Black, now it can be found in more interesting colors. However, with all products, there are pros and cons. Cost is $100 for the standard length (can be found for $90 on Amazon) and a hefty $118 for the 85″ length (I’m 6’2″ and a 71″ mat is fine for me)
Pros: Warrantied for life. Unless you do something silly, this can be the last mat you'll ever buy. If you destroy it from regular use, Manduka will replace it free of charge. I’ve personally spoken with teachers and students who have worn them out in 5-10 years and have done exactly that; had Manduka replace it free of charge. However, if your dog eats it, or you drop it into a wood chipper, you’ll be out of luck. After the break in period, the grip is excellent. Many praise this mat for its joint-friendly cushioning (accomplished by the dense material). This is a closed cell design, so it won't soak up your body filth like a sponge.
Cons: Not lightweight. It tips the scales at around 7 pounds. This may not sound like a lot, but compared to a Gaiam mat that weighs under 2 pounds, its hefty. Personally, I often run/jog to my yoga class and the weight makes this prohibitive. There is a break in period. Initially, the mat will be slippery. In a few weeks of practice, however, it will become tacky. Manduka provides a suggestion for accelerating the break in process which includes rubbing it down with coarse sea salt and water (this will not void the warranty).
Overall: 4 / 5 Gold stars. Best for yogis who want a lot of stability and cushioning, who don’t mind “powering through” the break in period annoyances. Suitable for all types of Yoga, super sweaty classes will benefit from an absorbent yoga towel on top.
Manduka Pro Lite. The Pro Lite is a lightweight version of its older brother, the Pro. It provides similar cushioning and is almost as stable as the original, yet is more portable (better for traveling or those who bike/ride/walk to yoga class instead of driving). It comes in 71” ($78) and 79” ($88) lengths and all kinds of colors.
Pros: The Pro Lite has the same lifetime warranty as the Pro. Its cushioning is great, and it doesn't slide around on the floor as you practice. The grip, again after the break in period, is excellent. People with more delicate joints, enjoy the cushioning this mat provides.
Cons: At first, the mat will be slippery. Just like, the pro, you'll have to be patient and break it in over a few weeks of practicing. It weighs 5 pounds, which is lighter than the original, but still heavier than cheaper mats.
Overall: 4.5 / 5. Yogis on the move will love this mat. Sure, you'll have to endure a bit of a break in period, but it will be worth it in the end. Fitting for all types of Yoga, super sweaty classes may benefit from an absorbent yoga towel on top.