Friday, November 11, 2011

Endorsing a Yoga Mat as Spiritual: Mr. Friend and Manduka

Have you seen the new Anusara+Manduka marketing team up? Ya know, the latest AMAZING BEST EVER yoga mat? The SOUL MAT. (ok, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth, let's be honest).

I'm disappointed. Although I'm not really an Anusara Yogini, I like the explicit environmental commitment. After a few supposed 'eco' yoga mat debacles (TPE nonsense and poorly made rubber mat) I was pleasantly surprised by a discounted prAna Revolution mat offer that I couldn't refuse. I adore rubber mats, but they come at a premium.

Over a year later and I still adore my ridiculously large Revolution Mat. In my opinion, if you want a mat, rubber mats are the way to go re: environmentally friendly and amazing utility as a mat (i.e. grip, longevity and care). 

However, I adore this mat DESPITE it's ginormous size. Honestly, I never need all that space on my mat. Although it feels like luxury to have it, I feel a bit pretentious rolling it out in a class. The mat doesn't fit in any of my yoga mat bags and I really don't want to have to buy or make one special for the size. It's also extremely heavy and difficult to bring to the park via bicycle. 

Also, I agreed to this mat DESPITE the silly, over the top, embarrassing marketing video by prAna and John Friend. I couldn't believe that the people in that mat-video took themselves seriously. I also resent the fact that entire companies are working to make disposable products somehow essential and-or spiritual. BUY BUY BUY. And if the regular advertising doesn't work- make the yogi feel like the product is SPIRITUAL. 

The new John Friend+Manduka mat? It feels a bit forced, and much more obvious that having one AMAZING spiritual mat isn't enough (plus, despite all that media, consumer foofoo, I think the revolution mat is a good environmental choice). Instead of pushing and creating an environmental alternative to the 'Black Mat', which is made from PVC, John Friend is encouraging yogis to purchase a LARGER, re: more PVC, mat. 

If we take a quick peek over at prAna- do we notice that the Revolution mat is no longer an 'Anusara' mat?? Interesting.

The eKo John Friend mat is a 'travel' mat. Please infer- "Not your everyday mat, but an extra mat that you buy to travel". The non-essential mat is the one that is environmentally friendly. Even though the eco-thing to do would be to NOT purchase another mat, please purchase this extra mat and feel less guilty because it's 'eco'. Sorry- 'eKo'.

Finally- let's get real here. John Friend is not partnering with a yoga mat company for shits and giggles. Quote from video:
"When I was conceiving the mat, it's not just for my own practice. I thought 'This will be a mat for everybody" (that part even had little cute squiggly writing on the screen). It really comes out of wanting the student, each student, to have a deep experience of their own goodness, greatness, their own beauty"

Ummmm. That is total bs. If he really wanted to create a mat that would 'benefit the most students' as he says earlier in the video, he'd create an affordable and can we even say FREE. Instead this 'for every student' stuff, the manduka 'essential' mat is 95$. 

'nuff said.

article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Spot on! There are lots of people who feel the same. We don't really need yogiceleb-teachers endorsing and branding mats that their students will then feel compelled to buy just so that they have one.

    Ugh. And all the marketing language? Double UGH.

  2. yeah, this whole thing makes me puke in my mouth a little too! the thing is, this kind of tasteless partnership doesn't even need to exist ~ manduka makes good mats which are respected by the yoga community; john friend is already a famous yoga teacher. neither need more promotion, and the fact that they think JF's endorsement will influence the hundreds of 1000s of people who are practicing anusara yoga is tacky (although the tragic thing is that these practitioners *will* run out and buy the mats b/c they have the JF stamp of approval).

    the "spiritual" marketing language is the worst part of this. when you watch JF in the prana video followed by his appearance in the manduka video, you see some blatant similarities. they make it feel even more inauthentic and insincere.

    JF is a skilled teacher and anusara is a good system of yoga, but the whole thing is turning into more and more of a gong show. as a (former) anusara practitioner, i'm finding myself looking for a practice that is more inline with my values and worldview.

  3. Jeez, yer so cynical...
    Doncha know cynicism & yoga don't mix?

    Wait a second...

  4. Oh for heaven's sake....

    As I said in my last post I long for a day when there are no yoga mats ;)

  5. im confused...which mat should i get if i don't want to pay too much?


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