One of our favorite frequently asked questions (FFAQ): What kind of yoga mat should I get?
You could ask a room of 30 yogis this question and you’ll get 30 different answers 😅
When deciding what type of yoga mat you should get, keep these principles in mind:
There are many different types of yoga, and certain mats are better for certain styles of yoga. A mat that is great for a “Hot 26” class might not be great for a Power Vinyasa class.
You get what you pay for
Your ability to enter a state of flow will be hindered if you are constantly sliding around or having to adjust your mat
A yoga mat is pretty much the only equipment you really need as a yogi, like a good pair of running shoes, you want to invest where it matters.
Now let’s compare some types of mats:
BASIC CHEAPO YOGA MAT ($10-20):
While these mats might be great for the budget, you will find that it isn’t very grippy (especially once the sweat starts pouring off your body), it slides around on the floor, and after a couple of uses, they will start to shed little rubber flakes everywhere. Resist the temptation to save a buck and pass on these.
MID-LEVEL YOGA MAT ($40-50):
You’ll find some durable, plush, stickier mats when you increase your budget. This is where I would suggest you begin your yoga journey. Depending on usage, you may get a few years out of it. You may need a yoga towel to help with the sweat, and you’ll know it’s time to upgrade when it starts to shed.
LULULEMON REVERSIBLE “THE MAT” ($78-90):
This is one of the two types of yoga mats we sell at our yoga studio because they are great for a heated power vinyasa practice. They are super grippy right out of the packaging and they soak up sweat immediately so you don’t spend the whole class sliding around. The price point is tolerable but be warned: These mats lose their stickiness over time and will need to be replaced every 1-3 years depending on how they are used. By the way, do not wipe these mats down with your lavender towel after class: The oil in the towel will break down the special surface on the mat and it will lose its grippiness faster.
MANDUKA PRO OR PROLITE MATS ($100-150):
The other type of mat we carry, and my personal fav (Cat), the Manduka is the priciest for a reason. They have a lifetime warranty and they only get better with age. My first Manduka ProLite is still kicking after 12 years of heavy use! The downside is that they take a while to break in (they are pretty slick when brand new), and for a really sweaty class, a mat towel may be needed, and some people don’t like having to deal with a towel. By the way, we carry these mats in extra long for our tall friends!
YOGA MAT TOWELS ($40-50)
As mentioned above, a yoga mat towel can be helpful if:
your mat is lower quality and feels pretty slippery
you identify as a heavy sweater, and/or
the class you’re taking is extra hot.
These towels are yoga mat sized and lay directly on top of your mat, and they are specially formulated to actually be grippy when wet. I’m going to say that again, louder for the people in the back: These towels get grippy when wet. When they are dry, they slip and slide worse than a wet mat! If you use a mat towel to accompany your practice, I recommend keeping it folded at the top of your mat until the moisture from your hands/body makes you slip and slide. Or, drizzle some of the water from your water bottle onto the top and back of the mat (think where your hands and feet would go in downward-facing dog).
Still not sure?
Clear as mud, right? When in doubt, give a mat a test run. We offer Manduka mats, lululemon mats, and mat towels as rentals ($3 each) so you can give them each a try at the studio.
What type of yoga mat do you prefer for a heated vinyasa flow yoga class? Tell us why you love it in the comments below!
Pushing 200lbs, I remember once struggling to run 8 minutes without stopping in Iroquois Park. At the time I was a caregiver to my parents: mom with cancer and dad with Alzheimer’s. The stress of this situation wasn’t helping my own health – I was eating my way into a size 18.
Then, my niece, Emilie Dyer, invited me to a free class at 502 Power Yoga. In the past I had used yoga successfully to stop smoking, so I figured it could also improve my overall health. At one point in my first class, I remember the instructor said to “kiss your knees;” I couldn’t do it. It really hit home then how big I had gotten. I’m going to have to work to get this off, I thought.
Rather than feeling intimidated by others at 502 Power Yoga, I was empowered by this community. I decided to take on the Sunrise Challenge in 2014, and also completed the 40 Days to a Personal Revolution program. Through these experiences, I gained insight into my emotional eating. I learned to be aware of what I was putting into my body and why. I gave up sodas and coffee, and today I only drink green tea, water and sometimes black tea. I have sweets as an occasional treat, and not with every meal as I had in the past. I witnessed these physical and emotional transformations slowly change my body. Over time, I saw cellulite on my knees diminish. I was able to do my first Flip Dog with Mimi’s instruction. I was inspired, and I fell in love with the community.
After some time, it seemed like my daddy was doing fairly well, or maybe it was me. Maybe I had learned to move with the universe instead of work against it. Yoga had become my retreat from all the drama of hospitals and doctors with my parents. I truly believe my yoga practice helped me stay calm throughout every situation and provided me the opportunity for self-care.
I can see how life has come full circle for me. The beginning of my transformation was the Sunrise Challenge in 2014, and more than a year later, after the 2015 Sunrise Challenge, I’m a size 8. My faith in God, my program of recovery and daily asana helped me physically and emotionally through those trying times. I feel those previous limitations fading behind me and conquering Iroquois Park is next on my list!
My first class at 502 Power Yoga was a Karma class. The room was packed beyond capacity, and the energy was high; you could feel the love when you walked in—which, when you’re new to this style of yoga, like I was, can feel overwhelming. My friend and I were the last two people to lay our mats down and I was ready to get my zen on and tune the world out — which is my default.
When class started and the instructor asked us all to generate hellos/give hugs/shake hands, I freaked out. She wanted me to what? No. I had come to do some yoga and stay in my own secluded world, not to meet new people or hug strangers. Not to mention, I was already sweating, as was most everyone I was asked to hug. Instinctively, I went directly to my friend and hugged her, but soon found I couldn’t avoid contact with other yogis any longer. I hesitantly shook hands and hugged two other already-sweaty people. I felt self-conscious for the entirety of my practice, worrying that the people I hugged were judging me for sweating before class had even started.
Coming into a class at a new yoga studio can be intimidating. However, when I started to meet new people at 502 Power Yoga, I realized that I was NOT alone. Instead, I was in this together with every other yogi in the room. I was connected to a room full of 30+ people—talk about powerful! Side note: The room is hot, full of badass yogis, and everyone is sweating. Nobody is judging!
In that same class, the instructor had us support our neighbors in Airplane Pose. I remember internally having a strong “Nope, nopeity, nope, nope” reaction to this; there was no way I was throwing off my balance to put my sweaty hands on someone else’s sweaty body. And then I felt another yogi’s hand on my shoulder supporting me, which gave me the nudge I needed, and I reached out to support my other neighbor.
Where can you go in your practice once you’ve moved past what is blocking you? For me, letting go of insecurities led me to become more consistent in my practice and made me fall in love with the Baptiste Methodology, which led me to taking the BIG leap to sign up for teacher training with 502 Power Yoga. Removing my rocks opened me up to following my passion and creating some pretty amazing friendships in a community that thrives off of supporting others.
It works that way; the support and community. You may come in feeling nervous, scared, or vulnerable, and then you realize we are here for each other. That support can move mountains (or fly airplanes in my case.) From that, strength in your practice happens. Growth in your life off your mat happens. Big things happen. The sweaty hugs are actually something I look forward to now.
Embrace the sweaty hugs and handshakes—it’s the beginning of something spectacular.
“The inner fire is the most important thing mankind possesses.” Edith Södergran
As we begin the new year, you may consider using Heat on and off your mat to kick start your resolutions and fuel your inner fire. Heat is one of the Pillars of the Baptiste Yoga practice; in the studio, the most obvious source of heat is the room itself. Power Yoga uses the warmth of the room to allow muscles to loosen up quickly, and your skin to detoxify itself through sweat.
But this isn’t just “hot yoga” it’spower yogabecause, with each movement of your muscles into the poses, you are generating heat within your body. This internal fire is encouraged byujjayi breath. Ujjayi breath is created by breathing in and out through your nose with the back of your throat constricted. This friction of the breath and the throat actually warms the air entering your body; if you’re like me and remember little else from grade school science, you might, at least, remember that friction creates heat.
In his book Journey Into Power, Baron Baptiste says, “The strong flow of power yoga fuels the inner furnace, and the breath fans that fire throughout your practice.” We are responsible for creating heat in our own bodies, and though 502 keeps the studio at about 90 degrees, generating our own heat is crucial in our practice.
Gaining a new kind of access to stiff muscles, or finding a new range of motion and flexibility in them, can help to heal old injuries and teach your body new muscle memory. And, if on your mat you can stay grounded in a pose in the heat of the moment, just imagine where that can serve you off the mat.
It is the one-week countdown for Winter 2015-2016 Teacher Training (see Becca’s guide on what to bring) and I know I’m not the only one who has mixed feelings about it. Starting something new is always a little unnerving, even if it is a positive thing. Lately, life has been crazy and at times things have been packed so tight that it seems impossible to shove in one more responsibility. And yet starting next weekend, that’s exactly what is going to happen.
When I feel myself start to resist the process, I try and lean into that resistance. It makes me think about Frog Pose and how sometimes I just want to cry, or how I feel I can barely breathe but in a really weird way I kind of like it. It can still hurt, but taking it to that edge makes me better. I’ve learned these lessons already on my mat as a student. I think that through the training I’m going to start to see what it means to take that surrender off my mat.
For those who don’t know, Tina Guelda wrote all the incoming trainees a letter and she didn’t sugar coat anything. She suggests bringing Ibuprofen regularly because, “Your body and your brain will probably hurt at some point.” She concludes the letter by reminding us all that we are going to need support from family and friends even when we won’t be able to see them. When I first read Tina’s letter, I may have freaked out a little. What have I gotten myself into? But re-visiting it I realize that while it wasn’t coated with sugar, Tina instead dumped a whole lot of salty flavor all over the truth. And my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
What surprises me the most from all of this is how even though I’m a little nervous and I have definitely already held back a few melt-downs, I’m not doubting myself one bit. I’ve seen the support system 502PY has created already through its programs and when it comes down to it, I am not afraid. I have doubts about myself, my abilities, my schedule, my finances, and my mental will to carry on when things get tough, but I have zero doubt that when things get rough that I will have my support system to push me through it all.
As this new challenge sits in full Lotus Pose right on the strong, sturdy, and looming gate of Friday evening, I shudder to think of all the tears, frustrations, and emotional highs that wait for me right on the other side. But then I lean into the challenge, I read comments from my fellow trainees, and in a really weird way, I realize I’m going to like this.