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.
At 5.5 pounds and 4.2 millimeters, the Liforme is relatively light and thin for a partly-rubber mat. Our more experienced testers thought it was “the perfect thickness,” though one added, “I think if other people had more sensitive joints, it would be slightly painful.” If you need more cushion, we’d recommend the Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Mat or the Jade Fusion Mat.
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Instructor Amira Freidson told us that a standard-size yoga mat is 68 inches long — just long enough for someone who’s five-foot-eight. To make sure you’re not too cramped during practice, check to see if your whole body fits on the mat while lying down with your face towards the ceiling. While there are no benefits to using a too-small mat, extra-large mats may be good for working on your flexibility: Instructor Giovanna Abraham says, “For more experienced yogis who have been practicing for 2-5 years, a longer mat would definitely be helpful — for instance, in giving them greater space to extend deeper into their poses.”
The leading yoga publication’s video section is a comprehensive resource with 360-degree views to better understand the nuances of every pose. The routines are more technical, more likely to use Sanskrit terms, and more athletically challenging than the ones I came across on DoYogaWithMe. My two main gripes with Yoga Journal’s online offerings: The videos were often shorter than I’d like (I find I need about an hour to get into a meditative, head-clearing state) and didn’t include any user reviews, so I found myself clicking around aimlessly in search of videos that would be a good fit. That being said, the production quality and detailed explanation of each pose is hard to beat when it comes to free yoga resources.
Over the years, I have tested mats from just about every well-established brand and many from lesser-known up-and-comers. I have watched technologies, materials and designs evolve to meet the needs of an ever growing number of yogis, and I have observed how brands have risen (or failed to rise) to the challenge of a more sustainable future. If you’re ever going to find that perfect mat for you, I can tell you there’s never been a better time than right now.
On an inhale, raise your arms straight up above your head and bring your palms together. Bend your knees slightly, and on the exhale, hinge at your hips to fold forward, lengthening your spine the whole way down as you reach your hands for the floor. Bring either your fingertips or palms to the floor, fingers in line with your toes. Slowly straighten your legs as much as you can without straining them.
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