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For a little over a year, I’ve made yoga a weekly part of my workout. Every Saturday, my partner and I will take our mats to a studio a few subway stops away for a strong vinyasa class (and occasionally a hot yoga class). I’ve loved it, but it’s also a challenge for reasons that have nothing to do with my yoga ability.
Deep stretches, holding physically demanding poses for long breaths—it gives me a pretty good workout, meaning I sweat a lot, especially when it’s a hot yoga class. And though I welcome a workout that brings on some sweat, this also makes my entire practice a lot harder. Downward Dog, while your hands are slipping off the front of the mat? Forget about it.
Towels for hot yoga are a common accessory, but I didn’t want to have to roll up another thing to carry to class every weekend. I wanted to relax, get a nice workout, and have it be a stress-free experience. I didn’t want to worry about sweat or too many components. So I did some research and found the GRP hot yoga mat from Manduka, and now I want to practice every single day.
The sweat absorption is key.
The main issue with my previous yoga mat—and my main frustration with the practice—was the sweat from a demanding, hot workout. On a regular mat, when you sweat, it pools right there on the surface, meaning any sort of grip you had for balance postures is pretty much non-existent. That’s not a thing at all with Manduka’s hot yoga mat. The non-slip top layer combined with a charcoal-infused rubber core means the GRP absorbs any amount of sweat. And, as a guy who sweats a lot during yoga, this mat truly does the trick. In the hottest, most demanding conditions, I never lost a bit of grip on my hands or feet. In fact, I feel like it worked better when it was slightly damp. No longer do I stress about getting too hot and losing focus while trying to not slip around everywhere.
One thing that is also key about this material is that it doesn’t show dirt or marks easily, and it doesn’t smell like other towels that are taking in your sweat. And, like every other yoga mat that is simple plastic, this one is easy to clean with a simple wipe down, even if it is absorbing moisture.
It’s really comfortable for your joints.
The GRP mat comes in two thickness options, the regular 6mm and the “lite” 4mm. It really depends on your preference, but I use the 6mm for a little bit of extra comfort. And even a little bit of extra padding makes a huge difference on your knees, palms, back, or whatever might be taking the bulk of your weight on the ground. The 4mm is still perfectly usable, but I like the feel of really pampering myself while working hard. Yoga should be a rejuvenating experience, so it’s something of a treat to not walk away with sore knees. The ease of comfort and the absorption have made me a more confident yogi. I feel like that with a solid base, my practice has deeply improved, making it simpler to try new balance poses or deeper binds.
It’s still very portable.
If you’re worried about carrying around a bigger mat, then the 4mm is your option. Even with the absorbing layer, it’s no bulkier or heavier than the regular mat I used to work with. I will admit that the 6mm is slightly heavier, but that’s not at all a con for me. It’s still easy to cart around, especially with Manduka’s mat carriers. I just use the shoulder straps and have had no issues at all—it’s worth it to have the extra comfort.