Breaking Up With Mat

I finally splurged on a nice mat.  I’ve had a steady practice for about six years and had been using a couple of $12.99 mats bought at TJ Maxx.  As my practice is growing, I figured I should start using a “real” mat.  But which one?  I don’t see myself as a Manduka girl – they’re so tough and expensive.  It’s what all the big cock Handstand guys use.  And rich middle aged women who just started practicing and figure they deserve the best. 

In the end, I went with a super-thick Jade mat.  I like their corporate philosophy (planting trees, natural rubber, no synthetics, made in the US, etc.), and lots of excellent teachers and students use Jade.  How could I go wrong?

I used my new mat for the first time at last night’s class.  At first, it seemed magnificently sticky.  But once I got my sweat on, I started to slip ever so slowly.  Maybe it just has to get a layer of grime on it, I thought charitably.  I want to love this new mat.  It was expensive and investing in a mat like that is a stepping stone on my journey through yoga.  Halfway through class, one of the Handstand guys says to everyone, “Hey, does it smell like chemicals in here?”  Oh God.  I knew right away it was the rubber in my new mat.  “Yeah,” a chatty, baby-voiced girl chimed in.  “It smells like someone has a new mat.  Come on!  Own up to it!”  I could almost see the stench reeking out of my mat like a heat mirage.  I just smiled coyly and decided to focus intently on the exact placement of my shin for Pigeon.  The accusatory chatter died down and after a few Wheels we all took savasana, which I spent trying assauge my guilt for asphyxiating my classmates.  After class, I admited my new mat culpability to my teacher Tom.  He laughed and gave me a fist bump.  I heaved the stinking ten pound mat into my car’s backseat and sped away like I was pulling a bank job.

Now I’m in limbo.  Do I give myself more time to get used to the new mat, or do I return to the safety of my old mat?

Your yoga mat is your ticket to asana.  You trust your mat to hold you in jump throughs; to cushion your head in Headstand.  You pour your blood, sweat and tears into this thing.  You invest in it your challenges and your hopes.  Sometimes, it’s the only witness to your growth.  It’s your partner in crime; your beloved.  Sometimes, you just can’t break up with a mat you trust.

Anyone have any tips on breaking in a Jade yoga mat?  Any good mat recommendations?

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18 Comments on “Breaking Up With Mat”

  1. MegP4 says:

    As the proud owner of a “TJMaxx Special” (or maybe Marshalls – same thing) I am no help. But I got a big kick out of this post.

  2. Tracie says:

    I also got my mat(s) at TJ Maxx!

  3. Lorin says:

    Hang in there. The smell will go away and the mat will develop a better texture. For the smell, if you spray it with a little vinegar water and hang it outside for the day, that will help. Regular practice will work on the condition and you’ll be loving it in no time!

  4. Thanks Lorin! I’m really on the fence about it, but I suppose there’s yoga in this – not being attached to the old mat and going with the flow with the new one.

  5. nancy says:

    YES! the smell goes away fast. I regularly use Jade and I have a Manduka as well (Black Mat Pro). I prefer Jade 100% because if I’m not super duper sweaty I never slip. Having said that, for both mats if I’m taking hot yoga I use a mat towel. Nothing prevents slippage when you are super duper sweaty, sorry.

    be really careful washing it b/c they are like sponges. i use Jo-sha wipes which clean your mat but don’t make it too wet

    I promise give it time, you’ll dig it and realize it’s the best investment EVER!

    • You’re right Nancy – I hadn’t thought about a mat towel. I’m very Type-A, so I’ll be forever straightening the towel, but it might be a way of bridging the gap between my beloved old (but cheap and beat-up) mat and my new professional investment Jade mat. Thanks much!

  6. LHC says:

    I just bought a Jade mat for the exact same reason, and I too am trying to love mine. I don’t mind the smell at all, but I am finding it slippery despite all the reviews that say it isn’t (including tonight, when it was hatha yoga and I didn’t sweat at all), and tonight it even bunched up on me. I found your blog entry because I did a Google search for “break in a jade yoga mat”–I too am looking for suggestions on how to make it work for me, especially since it seems silly to either go back to my Target Gaiam $20 mat or splurge on a Manduka when I *just* bought this one!

    • LHC – read the other comments here. Pretty serious yoginis say that it has to be broken in, and to use a mat towel to prevent slippage. I hate to invest FURTHER, but it looks like that’s what I’m going to do. I think I’m going to ride it out with the Jade, at least for a little while longer. I’d hate to panic, go back to the Gaiam mat, and have a useless, expensive Jade mat doing nothing. Hope this helps you (and me)!

  7. Liz says:

    As a long-time yogi and new reader of your blog, I just wanted to share my input! (I’m also your hubby’s former college suitemate, just FYI!)

    I have a cheapy TJ Maxx mat myself but use a Yogi Toes towel over it. I LOVE my Yogi Toes but I will admit to straightening it throughout class. But I take hot yoga and the towel is pretty necessary to avoid slipping (at least for me). It’s also nice because you can just throw it in the wash after.

    Also, I have a great recipe for an all-natural, non toxic mat cleaner that you might like. It smells great! Here it is:

    Ingredients:

    1 Large Spray Bottle
    Water
    Alcohol
    White Vinegar
    Tea Tree Oil
    Peppermint Oil
    Eucalyptus Oil
    Lemongrass Oil
    Lavender Oil

    Fill the water bottle 3/4 full with water. Fill the remaining 1/4 with equal parts of alcohol and white vinegar. Add about 2 ounces of tea tree oil. Add 10 – 20 drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, lemongrass and lavender oil.”

    (Sorry this comment is so LONG!)

    • Liz! I’ve heard all about the wild and wacky Hamilton days – it’s so nice to finally “meet” you. Thanks for your suggestions. I’m a total nerd about straightening, so the mat towel would be a challenge/annoyance for me, but I really want to love my new Jade so I think I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing your mat cleaner – sounds delish.

  8. YogiCrystal says:

    I’ve been thinking about getting a new mat, so this post was good for me to read, especially the comment tips. I have been in between getting a Manduka Lite mat or a Jade, because I want sticky! I have a $20 Lululemon mat that just isn’t cutting it… don’t you just get annoyed when slipping in downward dog? Either way, these are great tips – good luck with your new mat! 🙂

    • Slipping in Downward Facing Dog is sorta unforgivable. Makes me feel like a complete novice! Good luck with your new mat purchase. It’s definitely more of an adjustment than I anticipated.

  9. I LOVE my jade mat. The smell is strong at first but it mostly goes away eventually. Now every time I smell my mat in my car or in my room, it reminds me of yoga class and calms me instantly. so weird 🙂

  10. that first para cracked me up. i see a lot of those guys…and ladies. 😉

    i bathe my mat in the bathtub. no too much soap, though! just a tiny bit and scrub + rinse like a madwoman. that should take away your mat’s newness in a few washes.

  11. Richard Hudak says:

    I am one of those big (ahem) handstand guys and I have a Manduka. I figured I was spending a lot of money on yoga classes, and this was getting to be a real avocation for me. I figured at the rate I was going, I was going to be wearing out inexpensive mats. Someone at the studio invited me to try their Manduka and I was hooked.

    The chemical phenomenon is “outgassing” and it happened to my mat. (It’s also what gives us the “new car smell.”) It helped to hang it in the sun, as recommended by Manduka.

    The black Manduka is really heavy: viable alternatives would be the purple travel mat or their Eco series. Since I’ve bought my mat I’ve seen Jade mats sprout up everywhere. I have Jade mat envy. They have great colors and a great ad campaign, and through it I’ve learned that Michael Franti uses one (at least for the ad campaign). I’m surprised that if it’s natural rubber, it outgasses at all.

    I think if I were to buy another mat, it would be a tossup between the Jade and the Prana Revolution, designed especially by John Friend, founder of Anusara yoga. We have this thing about “Wild Thing,” and a wider mat helps with that.

    • EXCELLENT comment Richard – thanks. As time has passed, me and my Jade mat became friends. It took a while to get used to it, to know when to use a mat towel to prevent slippage, to let it sit outside in the sun, etc. I have the super-heavy Jade; the thickest one they sell and I really love it, especially when in headstand, low lunges or other knee-down weight-bearing poses. I recommend it with reservations about “outgassing”, which I estimate lasted about 3 weeks. I also have a thing about “Wild Thing” 😉


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