While in the pose, find balance by maintaining mountain pose alignment. Squeeze your glutes and engage your left quad muscle. Engage your abs and lengthen your spine. Keep your shoulders pressed down away from the ears. To help with balance, press your right foot into the left inner thigh with the same effort as the inner thigh presses into the foot.
It’s best to clean your yoga mat at least once a week to prevent staining and buildup. Use water and gentle cleansers like lemon juice or dish soap, but avoid abrasive sponges. Wipe down excess moisture and let your mat dry away from direct sunlight or high temperatures, which can accelerate the breakdown of natural materials like rubber. When in doubt, check your mat manufacturer’s care guidelines.
The Manduka Eko yoga mat is made from non-Amazonian, all-natural tree rubber reinforced with polyester and cotton and manufactured without toxic glues or foaming agents. No toxic chemicals were used to soften the rubber either, which is rarer than you might expect. These mats have two layers that are different densities, offering a combination of spongy and firm support, and have a closed-cell surface that repels moisture. The natural rubber has good grip in dry conditions and feels nice and supportive under your body.
A good yoga mat should walk the line between being squishy enough to take some of the pressure off your joints, while being dense enough to offer a stable foundation. Too-soft mats may be comfortable, but they’re difficult to hold a pose on — and while you can stand on a too-firm mat forever, you may end up hurting your joints. Beginners, pregnant yogis, and people with sensitive joints should consider thicker mats, which offer more support. Yogis who commute or travel a lot may prefer thinner mats that are easier to roll up and carry.
Challenging your muscle memory keeps your mind sharp! In this sequence, Health's contributing yoga editor Kristin McGee puts a new twist on the standard yoga flow, shaking up classic sequences so they feel brand-new. McGee says this routine is perfect for yogis of all skill levels. As a bonus, studies show that making your brain’s processing center work harder may help with long-term memory retention.
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