After writing about Mr. Crumbles (ahem, yoga mat issues) something amazing occurred and I decided to wait to write about my mat choice until it arrived. Today, the hottest day of our summer so far, it has!
First, let us chat about my choices and why I chose the mat that I did.
We all know that TPE mats (or thermoplastic elastomers- sound sketchy? That's because it is) are sad, greenwashing attempts at an 'eco' yoga mat. Not truly 'biodegradable' in a safe manner (since we don't know the specifics as to what elastomer has created the TPE, nor the dyes), I find it frankly a bit insulting as to how much they are pushed as a green alternative. Plus, they also flake. For a more in-depth discussion, check out my post.
The Manduka Black Mats are often touted as a 'green' alternative, because you'll only ever buy ONE mat. However, that one mat will last forever... and beyond. I for one do not relish the thought of my yoga practice contributing to the mess of oil and plastic on our planet.
So, rubber it is.
Manduka Eko mats were the first I looked into. They're sold at the yoga studio I was energy exchanging and every single Sunday after scrubbing the studio I would haul out the Eko mat and practice. I can honestly say that it's not that grippy and the little string binding was fraying like Mr. Crumbles. Also, one of the instructors whispered to me that the colours bleed... not really worth 70$+ and I wasn't that interested in purchasing a 'lite'.
Jade Yoga Mats are reportedly sourced from sustainably harvested rubber trees and they plant a tree for every mat purchased. I have heard (from comments and other yogi(ni)s) that they also tend to flake away. Still, the price isn't that bad and the mats are pretty (although dyed synthetically). Jade also has a new mat that is made with post consumer rubber- the Encore Mat.
Unfortunately when I went to order online, I noticed that Canada wasn't among the (dozens) of countries listed for shipping. Nope, if you want to order a mat you have to actually email their 'Canadian' contact. No first name, minimal information, basically just an email address. Um. After emailing them their response was; 'Yes! Simply email our Canadian rep!' which they forwarded my email to him without my permission. Ummm. No thank you.
My first choice all along was really prAna Revolution. I was very excited about their 'no string thingy' binding method of using non-toxic glues, their use of rubber and their labour policies. I was also excited about the reviews on performance and customer service. Although it took over a week for Jade to respond to my email, prAna responded within 48 hours.
I inquired about prAna's sourcing of their rubber and whether they used synthetic dyes in their mats. The director of sustainability, Nicole, actually responded personally to my email. Her response was open, honest and respectful. She reported that my question had sparked an interest in determining the rubber source beyond their 'rubber broker' in Malaysia, assessing the rubber's traceability. I look forward to hearing about the results.
The dyes, she responded, were synthetic (as the majority of rubber mat dyes are) and she even went as far as to give me some ideas on how to re-use or recycle my mat (in the distant event that it may have passed it's time). I loved her honest and authentic response.
I was also very excited about the Revolution mat's actual physical SIZE. Which is silly, since I'm not a tall person and don't really need a lot of space on a mat. But I heart space... and six one Andrew would benefit from 'borrowing' such a mat.
Sadly, with wedding budgeting and job insecurity I just couldn't justify spending the money on the mat...Peaking out excitedly!Then- I got a facebook message from a prAna rep saying they'd read my 'Mr Crumbles' post and were offering me a 50% discount on a mat of my choice!!! WEEE!!!!!! I did a little dance (mostly to 'peanut butter jelly time' in my head) and said 'OH YEAH!'. A phone call later and my mat was ordered in green.
It has arrived today. And it is MASSIVELY awesome. And massive. hah.
The mat smells like a new rubber mat, which I'm used to from Mr Crumbles. A lesson I learned from him- air out the mat for 48hours, that smell can really make you dizzy! Conveniently it's warm out, so we can leave the windows and balcony door open. Of course, since it's rubber, direct sunlight isn't ideal. So it's hanging on the computer chair (our one and only guest chair besides the couch).
Andrew holding it up to it's full length (mine was folded slightly)
The packaging was alright- cardboard box, taped up not too much. The box was padded with some brown paper (no plastic bubbles) which will be perfect for packing our dishes. One down side- the mat was in shrink-wrapped plastic... Sigh. I wouldn't have doubted it's 'newness' if it didn't have plastic... as it was also wrapped in (100% post consumer) paper.
Andrew holding it up to it's full length (mine was folded slightly)
I rolled it out and gave a few test runs... and holy it is so beautiful. Sticky and not too thick (I love to *feel* the ground beneath me) it feels like I am dwarfed in my practice, that I have SO MUCH SPACE to practice. My Malasana actually remains on the mat- no toes on the floor! My downdog is NOT moving, the luxury.
I had a sudden thought- 'I hope this fits in my yogoco mat bag'... ummm.... nope! Something I hadn't even considered, the mat is about 4 inches too wide! I'll need another strategy... which is kind of a bummer. Instead of buying another bag, I think I'll modify an old Lulu mat bag with a drawstring that I haven't been using.
Also it is majorly heavy- so not ideal for long walks or bicycling to the park. Since Mr. Crumbles was going to be delegated to 'park' duty, I'm not too concerned about that.
What I am a bit concerned about is how I'll feel showing up to a class with this sucker. She deserves a name- like Getha, or Francesca... the First. In any case, I hope I don't feel like I'm rollin' up in my Hummer on a tiny cobbled 'ruelle'... ya know? As a yoga instructor, what are your honest thoughts on such a situation?
I am pretty aware that for many (myself included) the price tag of a prAna Revolution mat is a bit steep (90$). However, when you consider the price of a Jade mat (79$ in a studio, 100$ Bhavana for the wide equivalent), Manduka's 70$ Eko and 90-100$ PVC Black Mat, the difference really isn't that much. Since my goal wasn't to collect mats, but to find the *one* that would last a lifetime of practice without damaging our planet, I probably would have saved for a few months and bought the prAna mat.
Despite the small issue of synthetic dyes (considering most rubber mats have them anyway) I am very pleased with my choice and feel extremely blessed to have been given this gift of Francesca, the Green Queen of Yoga mats :)
Andrew's choice of asana... savasana which fits his entire six one frame.... Guess we'll be fighting over who gets to use the mat!Many many thanks to André of prAna and their beautiful generosity!
Blessings and Happy Weekend!
article and photographs copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com