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.
As I said above, I have only been impressed by the B Mat. The B Mat Everyday is constructed with 100% rubber (both natural and synthetic), without using harsh chemicals, finishes or sealants, and feels good under my skin. The B Mat Everyday also provides decent padding, even though it's only 4mm thick and 4.1 lbs (if you are looking for more padding, get the 2mm-thicker B Mat Strong reviewed above). Like it’s thicker cousin, this mat feels durable, is surprisingly light and has incredible grip in both wet and dry conditions.
A yoga mat's material affects its stickiness, durability, comfort, texture, and whether or not it’s environmentally friendly. PVC is cheaper and more durable but may be exposed to toxins during manufacturing and be less beneficial for the environment. Eco-friendly materials tend to be more expensive and degrade more quickly but are both free of toxins and more sustainable.
I started feeling my left knee pop and my back ache at the base of my neck. With any new exercise, it’s normal to feel some new aches and pains while your muscles adjust. When you release tight muscles as you start doing yoga, it impacts your overall posture and muscles in unexpected places across your body, which might make you sore. Since I’m a desk worker, I wasn’t surprised that waking up neglected neck muscles was uncomfortable—they always get sore when I exercise my upper body, and the sensation was familiar.
About the channel: Dana Falsetti, the women behind Yoga Trees, came to yoga after years of struggling to love her body — and her practice helped her finally find inner peace. Her channel is mostly her quick Instagram tutorials, which are super helpful. You can also find her longer classes at Cody (see below). Falsetti has been featured in many online and print publications, including Shape, Mind Body Green, and more.
The “grippiness” of a mat has two parts. One is how grippy the mat is against your hands and feet — are you slowly sliding out of place during warrior pose, or are you solidly planted? The other is the traction of the mat against the floor: Does your mat slip around on smooth floors, or is it firmly stuck in place throughout your session? Sweat can be a factor too, especially if you practice an intensive form like hot yoga, so you want to make sure your mat will stay grippy through it all.
While it was tough to find the routine I wanted on Yoga Journal, I kept coming back to the site for its invaluable 360-degree video explanations of different poses. Learning basic postures (called asanas) quickly made me more comfortable and confident in my practice. You’ll pick them up as you go, but if you prefer to study ahead of time, you can use Yoga Journal to learn these poses:
Crank Up Core Strength: an athletic, dynamic routine with some arm balances that will tire you out. I think it’s best suited for someone who is already in good shape but is trying out yoga for the first time. The flow requires two blocks, which can stabilize you in poses when one hand is on the ground or help improve overall alignment. Until I got a great set of cork blocks, I used big, heavy books instead.