But not any Manduka mat, it has to be the extra long, extra wide manduka mat that fills your whole visual field with blackness, allowing you to float effortlessly through the matty void.
Heavy, very, very heavy about 9lb for my 100" mat But feels heavier. This is a solid mass of rubber and seems like it's cut out of a formula 1 racing tire. And it's Solid too, thick with seemingly no give. When you roll it out on the floor it rolls out quickly finishing with a loud thud.
Looks like you mean business. If your feeling half-hearted about your practice one morning, stepping onto this mat will focus your mind, it demands a serious approach. It's like stepping out onto the grass at Wembley, Lords, Wimbledon... (OK getting carried away a bit now but it kinda feels a bit like that).
It's thick about 6mm, but because it's so solid it appears thinner. It's not spongy and there's hardly any give but this makes your feet and hands feel more grounded. And yet it cushions your bones more than other mats.
It's sticky when dry but any moisture sits on it's surface and doesn't get absorbed into the mat. This means it can get really slippery quickly but it also means that you can wipe the moisture off easily. With other mats once they become sweaty you pretty much have to put up with it as you can't wipe it away, they are like sponges. With the Manduka, one wipe with a towel and it's as if you just unrolled it.
Slipperiness is the biggest issue with this mat. I tend to sweat quite a lot but I managed to get through the standing sequence without slipping. I tend to throw a few handstands into my Sury's and it felt firm and solid. I felt more stable and in control, likewise in headstands, forearm stands and especially in Utthita hasta padangusthasana
However in seated I found myself gliding through my jump backs and jump throughs, the faintest sheen of moisture was enough to make it slippery enough for my feet to glide across the surface.
Half way through seated I needed to start using a towel to regularly wipe my hands and the sides of the mat, perhaps every other jump through. But it only takes one wipe and your good to go.
Just what I'd hoped for, it took the pressure of my coccyx when rolling forward to jump back and off my spine in Garbha Pindasana. Also being a little wider there's less chance of you rolling off the mat as you work your 360. The knee has more support too in Vatyanasana from Intermediate. Nice bonus is that Nakasana is quieter on this mat which should please the neighbors.
Jump back specific:
My toes still tend to brush the top of the mat in my Jump backs and on my other mats at the beginning of practice this will tend to stop me dead until the the mat becomes a little sweaty. However with the Manduka I went straight back through. As it picked up a little moisture I was just gliding across the top, both jumping back and jumping through allowing me to focus on other elements. Slipperiness is an issue with the Manduka and I had to wipe my hands and the sides of the mat a few times throughout the practice. However, with other mats once the sweat starts seeping into the mat there's not a lot you can do about it but with the Manduka the sweat just sits on the top of the mat and will wipe away. Besides I kinda feel that if you're slipping on your mat then your doing something wrong, in that perhaps you haven't shifted your weight correctly or your stretch is too wide for your current muscle development. That said you do have to be careful with your hands slipping in Jump through but don't have to worry about rubbing and blistering your feet as you pass through allowing you to approach it With more confidence and more able to concentrate on your bandhas or keeping your knees up, feet tucked in etc.I've also noticed on my other mats that, with my bony backside, it can be a bit hard on my coccyx, same in Navasana, but on the Manduka, because the mat is so much firmer and gives much more support, I didn't feel a thing.
Practiced Intermediate today and the slipperiness of the mat became intolerable, it was like a skating rink. Because of the Shalabasana series the mat gets sweaty from the word go. There's much more body/mat contact throughout Intermediate than primary so you get really fed up with wiping it down after every asana. In the end I threw my Mysore rug over the top and it was perfect. Jump backs and Jump throughs are different in Intermediate anyway so there's not the rubbing your feet raw on the rug concern as there is with primary. So plain manduka for primary, Manduka plus Mysore rug for intermediate.
Only been a couple of days but I love this mat. It's helping me with my jump backs, not stopping me dead if my feet brush the surface. Moisture just wipes away with one wipe of a towel. It's firm and gives you a nice secure base for balancing and supports your joints and bones. It's a serious mat.
It's heavy and not really ideal for taking to class. Can be slippery and could be dangerous, so not for the total beginner, need to be a little adept at shifting/distributing your body weight. Would be unforgiving if you over stretch. Or of course you could buy one of Manduka's eQua towels to go with it.
I'll come back to my conclusions a couple of weeks from now with an update.
First impressions........Green, VERY green! It's like doing your practice at Lords or Wimbledon's center court
But this is actually OK as I can fold a couple of inches of the mat over each end of the mat making it even more secure (see picture).
So does it work? is it fit for purpose?
It certainly is. I'm about as sweaty an Ashtangi as your likely to find, the eQua did all I could ask of it.
2. Ultra soft.
As a babies bottom. I suffer from ashtanga toes, dried skin on the front of your big toe from rolling over throughout the practice. Gets really sore huh. These days I usually lower onto my knees then adjust my toes to avoid rolling over. With the eQua it's so soft that I was able to go back to rolling over. The towel feels really nice too laying back into the supine asana's and especially savasana.
3. Slip resistant.
Need to give it a quick spray with a water mister but from then on your fine. Parasarita Padattanasana has to be one of the most worrying asanas where slipping can be really nasty.( video showing this is fine on the original post, see link above).
4. Moisture Wicking
So this refers to drawing the moisture away from the surface of the mat in the same way as my trusty Nike pro's. I guess it does, seeing as theirs no pool of sweat on top of the mat, but have always wondered.....where does it all go, wicked away to where? one of the great mystery, solve this one next Gordon.
5. Rapid dry.
Oh yeah! again, how, where does it go? pretty much dry ten minutes after practice. Also I rinsed it out in the shower, wrung it out, hung it on the door about an hour ago and it's already dry and ready to go again.
6. Light weight
Yep, weighs almost nothing and folds up into a tiny mesh bag too.
Will have to see about that but I imagine so. Looks well made
BUT.......... well not much a but really. But see my earlier post on making your own yoga towelhttp://grimmly2007.blogspot.com/2008/10/home-made-non-slip-yoga-towel.html
The eQua is basically just a pretty microfiber towel. eBay is full of them at the moment so you could make your own as I did.
However, I couldn't find one the right length for a yoga mat and had to settle for a bath towel, cut it down the middle and stitch the seams. The eQua on the other hand is designed for a mat, the right length the right width and comes in cool colours (hard to find a decent colour microfiber towel on eBay).
I should point out that I heard Manduka have redesigned their eQua towel, haven't seen one of the new ones so can't say if it's an improvement or not, bit plusher I read and in more colours.
This is MANDUKA, so I'm more than happy to devote a whole post to them, anyone else wanting a plug would probably end up with no more than a line or two hidden away at the bottom of a normal post.