A lot of people have been pointing out to me that their Manduka Eko mat gets very slippery when they practice Ashtanga or a sweaty Vinyasa Flow class. I’ve had students and readers of this blog say to me that they had high hopes for the Manduka Eko and were disappointed because they found it to be too slippery. Does this mean that the new Manduka mat is a bad mat?
In a word, no. In my seven years or so of practicing yoga, I have never found a closed-cell mat that stayed sticky with an intense amount of sweating. I’m no expert on yoga mat design, but my understanding is that yoga mats can be classified into two categories: Open-Cell Mats and Closed-Cell Mats. Closed-cell mats do not absorb sweat or water. The “cells” that make up the mat are closed, after all. If there’s nowhere for the moisture to go, it’s obviously going to stay right on top of the mat. This usually results in a very slippery mat. The solution? Get a Yogitoes. It will absorb sweat, and you can wash it to keep things sanitary.
But, some people might think, wouldn’t it just be better to get an open-cell mat? Maybe–but probably not. True, some people I know do prefer the open-cell mat because it absorbs sweat and water to some degree. Personally, I find this feature of open-cell mats to be pretty disgusting. An open-cell mat will be more likely, it seems to me, to turn into a breeding ground for bacterial and/or fungal growth, or other nasty things which I’d rather not think about.
So my conclusion is that if you want a good mat, pick it first and foremost for the following sorts of consideration: density, weight, environmental friendliness, cost, size, ease of care and durability. In terms of slippage, the only solution really seems to be a Yogitoes. They are kind of expensive, but totally worth it, in my opinion. If you don’t want to shell out the money for a Yogitoes, use a simple hand towel under your hands, and keep wiping down your mat throughout the practice. (I’ve actually taken to doing this lately since I don’t sweat quite enough to keep my Yogitoes moist and sticky.) When it comes down to it, there is no “perfect” yoga mat out there, and any one you buy will have its pros and cons. For me, the Manduka Eko is still the best.