(This post was originally published on March 28, 2011, and updated on July 23, 2015.)
New York is filled with fitness rivalries: Mets vs. Yankees, Flywheel vs. SoulCycle, and Jade vs. Manduka—the manufacturers of the best-selling yoga mats.
Even though a non-competitive, live-and-let-live spirit pervades yoga philosophy, yogis take sides when it comes to mats. Considering that it’s the only major piece of equipment required and an important decision, maybe it’s no wonder?
We spent months sweating on both Jade and Manduka mats—and tapped the Well+Good community on Facebook and Twitter to hear what makes someone a die-hard fan of one mat or the other. What’s the best mat in class? Read on:
Jade is currently New York City’s “it mat.” It has an all-purpose reputation and a price point considered democratic ($74.95 for the premium Harmony model and $59.95 for travel for those who carry their mats everywhere). All Jade mats are made from tree rubber, and with every purchase, the company plants a tree, which kinda makes it hard to find fault.
Though some yogis are fickle, most readers we talked to loved the stability and stickiness of Jade mats—3:1 over Manduka—and Jade loaners seem to be found in more NYC studios (according to our admittedly ambitious yet non-comprehensive quest).
But some hard-core yogis complained that the stickiness doesn’t work for vinyasa or flow-based styles. “In chaturanga to up-dog transitions, you need to slide your feet back a bit as you roll over them for correct alignment. Yogis with a strong core and floating ability can manage to slip their feet back on a Jade. But for most of us, this is very difficult,” said one reader. Another complained that after a spell in hot yoga it “stretches all over the place,” but she loves it so much she’s just going to get another.
Other assets mentioned: It doesn’t come with that slick “just-manufactured film” that you have to wash off with apple cider vinegar. And it’s not “heavier than a medicine ball.”
Takeaway: Jade’s got mass appeal—hitting the right combination of affordability, stickiness, and tote-ability for most New Yorkers.
The Rolls Royce of yoga mats. Manduka has yogis throwing down $108 for its legendary Black Mat Pro, and up to $128 for limited edition colors—currently, a selection of two-toned mats ($124), and metallics ($128). The Black Mat Pro is favored by many yoga teachers, has a lifetime warranty, and its deep cushion and non-slip bottom make it a far cry from the plastic sheets many New York City yogis are used to practicing on.
The aspirational price tag yogis can overlook, but not the Black Mat Pro’s weight problem. Because it tops 7 pounds, it’s “super impractical” for mat-toting New Yorkers. Said one yogi: “For me [the choice is about] weight over almost anything else. The Manduka is super sturdy (whereas I usually have to replace my Jade mats every 9 months or so), but it’s SO. FREAKING. HEAVY.”
Manduka’s lighter mats, like the Manduka Pro Lite ($80–$98), cost a smidgen less and still feel sturdy. But the yogis we talked to either loved it and how it folds up or found it “ice-rink slippery.” Perhaps more a factor of a yogi’s sweat production than the mat’s construction? (For the super sweaty, the company makes some mean, slip-free yoga mat towels.) The popular Manduka Eko mat—made with tree rubber and subject to kleptomania—has the “slight slip required for chaturanga transitions.” The Eko Lite ($52–$64) can “buckle a little on the floor” but is otherwise “a great option.”
Takeaway: The pricey Black Mat Pro is a bigger commitment—and its 7-pounds-of-cushion make it best for yogis who leave their mats at a studio. Manduka’s six other, more lightweight models are solid spin-offs. —Melisse Gelula
Got an opinion about your yoga mat? Tell us in the Comments, below!
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(Photos: Instagram/leyogadaylesford; Instagram/mandukayoga)