Two trips, two yoga mats, two tales.

I recently got to combine my love of yoga and travel when I journeyed to the New York Yoga Journal Conference in New York City and the Tadasana Festival in Santa Monica, California. On recent trips to Florida and Arizona, I didn’t take my yoga mat along for the ride (I know, not very nice of me to not treat my mat to a little fun in the sun), because I figured I would just use a beach towel for beach yoga sessions and could borrow a mat at the studios I attended.

For these two trips, though, borrowing was not an option, and I would be attending several yoga classes each day, so I was gonna need to take a mat – and a kick-ass mat at that. I’ve got some really nice yoga mats, but they’re heavy and unwieldy to lug through an airport. Rather than whack unsuspecting plane passengers in the head as I boarded the plane, I went in search of a sleek, compact, but highly functional yoga mat.

Being the skier that I am, I was hoping one of the yoga mat companies might offer me a “demo” mat like ski companies do with skis. You know, try the yoga mat out for a few downward dogs, see how it treats your wrists, how comfy it feels during savasana, and then make the decision to buy. That way I would only have to carry the mat on one way of the trip.

New York Yoga Journal Conference – Tale #1

Enter the awesome folks at Manduka who had just the mat I was looking for. They set me up with an eKO Lite® Mat that I picked up at the show to demo, and they even let me keep it after I was done! I have to admit, I was a little worried that this 1/8” of a yoga mat was not going to support me enough as I chaturanga-ed with the likes of Seane Corn and Desiree Rumbaugh, but as I busted through the two days of yoga classes, I was one blissed out, happy yogini. This eco-friendly yoga mat is no lightweight! It holds its own with rock star functionality, comfort, and convenience for us yoginis on the go.

Manduka Small Logo #1

Confessions of a Manduka Yoga Mat Virgin. Yes, it’s true, up to this point on my yoga journey, I’d never done a downward dog on a Manduka mat before. When I first started practicing yoga, I always eyed the Manduka mat displays at the studios and figured they were for the pros and, who was I kidding, were way too pricey for my budget. Once I became addicted to yoga, I quickly learned that paying a little more for your yoga mat is a wise investment.

When I picked up the mat, I was warned (warned may be too strong, advised sounds a little better) that it might have a strong smell, but I have to tell you, I kind of liked the smell (yeah, I always liked the smell of Elmer glue as a kid too!). I might have even picked up a little natural rubber yoga high from it (that’s a product feature I’m sure the marketing team at Manduka will not soon employ).

Manduka was nice enough to let me pick the color of my mat, and I had a hard time picking between two of my favorite colors – Moss (green) and Santorini, which is a gorgeous aqua. With a name like Santorini, it’s hard to say no, but my Anahata (heart) chakra got the best of me, and moss green it was. My moss green eKO Lite mat will always serve as a reminder to let my heart chakra shine as I go through my yoga practice. In fact, when I got home it served a dual purpose as the base of an altar I built for my Chakra Yoga class series during the week we focused on the anahata chakra.

My Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat and I hanging out at the conference with Elephant Journal founder Waylon Lewis.

The eKO Lite mat measures in at 68” x 24” and weighs in at 3.5 pounds: perfect to roll-up and go when you are traveling. Plus, I really dig the fact that the mat is made with a closed-cell surface that keeps out moisture (aka sweat) from seeping into the mat, which can breed bacteria. Yeah, bacteria is something I definitely don’t want to take along when I travel! The bottom of the mat has a thicker open-cell that provides a lighter cushion, but it can also be reversed and used on top for more traction in those moisture heavy (aka sweaty) hot yoga classes, so you’ll always be prepared no matter what kind of yoga you find on your travels. The mat also works perfectly when you pair it with a NamaSTAY yoga towel for those really sweaty yoga classes.

If you are not familiar with Manduka, they make eco-friendly yoga mats from non-Amazon harvested natural tree rubber without any PVC or toxic plasticizers, and they are biodegradable. This makes my green heart happy!

Every time I use my eKO Lite mat, I will have fond memories of the NY Yoga Journal Conference, especially when I see the sparkling glitter pieces that still remain from when Dana Flynn of Laughing Lotus Yoga sprinkled her yogini fairy dust on me and my Manduka mat during one of the best yoga classes I’ve ever taken.

Make your own sparkly travel yoga memories, and pick up a Manduka mat of your very own. Daily Downward Dog readers can Save 10% on any purchase from Manduka with offer code MARIAMEDIA.

That’s enough mat talk for one day. Tale #2 (yes, this is a tease) is coming soon!

Manduka Medium Vertical #2