I have a new favorite yoga mat–the eKo Superlite by Manduka. It’s marketed as a “folding travel mat,” but I’ve actually been using it for my daily practice.
I’ve been practicing on this mat exclusively for almost two months now, so I’ve been able to give it a good, thorough workout. Here’s my review.
The first thing I noticed about the eKo SuperLite is how well constructed it is, especially for a travel mat. Typically, travel mats are so flimsy you could probably tear them in half if you tried. Now, I certainly haven’t attempted to rip my eKo SuperLite in two, but this mat can clearly withstand a lot of abuse. It’s designed to be folded up, packed in your luggage, and, of course, practiced on vigorously.
For me, the true test of a yoga mat’s build is how well it stands up to repeated impact—e.g., jump-backs to Chaturanga. So far so good with the SuperLite. This is somewhat surprising, given that it’s made of 100% natural rubber. A lot of these natural rubber mats start to crumble pretty quickly, sometimes even after just one use. The SuperLite has a closed cell design, though, so it is probably less susceptible to this kind of deterioration. (The closed cell design is also good for hygienic reasons.) It’s also made by Manduka, who have long been then gold standard for solidly built yoga mats.
The eKo SuperLite is dense, not soft and squishy. And it’s just 1.5mm thick. Yes, that’s millimeters. At first, I was worried that the mat would be too thin. And I’m certain that for some people, it will be. If you have sensitive knees, wrists, or other boney extrusions, a thicker mat would probably be better for you. But I think most seriously practitioners prefer a solid foundation underneath them. If you like to feel a strong, firm connection with the ground – if you want to feel “connected to the earth,” so to speak – I can’t think of anything better than the eKo SuperLite.
Even though the SuperLite is part of Manduka’s eKo series of mats, it has a noticeably different surface texture than the other eKo mats. Specifically, it’s stickier (at least right out of the package) and seems to have more grip on both sides of the mat. This is very important to me. I know a lot of people complain about the top of their mats being too slippery (usually the problem is that their palms are too sweaty!). But I’ve found that it’s just as important for the bottom of the mat to have some grip on the floor. Otherwise, your mat starts to stretch when you’re in poses like Down Dog, and over time this destroys the mat.
I haven’t actually used the eKo SuperLite for any serious traveling. But I can see already how and why it’d make a great mat for someone who travels a lot. It rolls up like a normal yoga mat. But you can also fold it up like a towel and throw it in your suitcase. (This is actually how I store mine, because it tends to get some bulges/bubbles when I store it rolled up.) In the past, when I used to travel a lot, I would drag around my Manduka Black Mat in a separate carrying bag. In fact, frequently when flying on planes, my Black Mat would by my one carry-on item. This, of course, meant that I couldn’t take anything else on with me! Next time I fly, though, I’ll just slip my eKo SuperLite into my suitcase along with my socks and underwear. With a great but portable mat, I am more likely to take a mat with me when I travel, which means I am far more likely to practice when I’m on the road.
OVERALL: A The eKo Superlite Travel Mat by Manduka is 68-inches long, 24-inches wide, and 1.5-millimeters thick. It weighs in at less than two pounds. I highly recommend this mat for anyone who needs to travel with their mat, whether it’s on an airplane, or just across town on the subway or a bike. At $39, this is a great deal for a real Manduka yoga mat, not some flimsy towel.