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VINE VOICEon January 31, 2005
Yoga mats come in three basic thicknesses. At 1/4" this one tops even the thickest sticky mats. Roughly the thickness of two average mats together, this one will help cushion all those boney parts and not bunch up the way two mats together always seem to do. It's not only thicker, it's denser to boot. It's cushion without mushiness. However, this cushion comes at the price of being quite heavy -- more heavy than four average mats combined! Probably not the best choice for a mat you tote around unless you want to get in some extra strength training. This one is the kind you buy, find a place for, and leave it there. Also note that the roll this yoga mat makes is huge, something to consider if between practice storage space is an issue. The "thick" mats at 3/16" will still provide extra cushion without the hassle but if you've tried them and they're still not enough, this might be the way to go. Mats that are about one third as thick as this one (1/16") are good for travel or placing under a thicker mat to provide more traction. The average mats are about 1/8." This mat is also two inches wider than the average mat, 24" is the standard width, and three inches longer than average -- 68" is the standard length.

There are two sides to this and nearly all yoga mats. Look carefully at the 'bumps' on each side of the mat. On most mats, the larger bumps are designed to face upwards to cushion your hands, feet, and knees during poses while keeping your body from dangerously slipping out of alignment. The smaller bumps are designed to face downwards to grip the floor and keep the yoga mat from sliding. With this mat it's slightly different. Manduka's mats have a unique dotted bottom surface that holds the mat in place during your practice. It looks unlike any other mat you've ever seen. This mat also has a brand label on one end. Just like on most but not all mats with a label, it is located on the 'up' side.

You will need to wash this mat once before using it the first time to remove the coating. Instructions for this are included with the mat. This yoga mat will increase in stickiness with use. (So do most mats.) They start out mildly sticky and increase in stickiness the more they are used. If you find yours decreasing in stickiness each time you pull it out, this is the typical sign that a light coating of dust or too much body sweat has accumulated on your mat and it needs a light hand washing with very diluted soap and water. After washing, dry your mat unrolled, inside, and away from sunlight. (Hanging over the shower bar works nicely.)

When you first unroll your mat you will find one end to be a bit curled. Simply alternate the direction you roll your mat (top outside once, then bottom outside next) or the end you start from (curled end once, flat end next time) and you'll find it straightening out more or less over time.

I recommend buying your own yoga mat even if your yoga studio or gym provides them for you. I've worked in many studios and gyms over the years. Sometimes management has mats cleaned often, sometimes not. If you bring your own mat you always know where it's been. :o) Plus, owning your own mat may encourage you to begin valuable practice at home.

For my students who have trouble with their knees in some of the poses requiring the body weight to rest on a knee, I recommend temporarily folding over one end of the mat to get double cushion under the knee while still leaving one layer under the rest of the body. This saves you having to haul more than one mat out each time you practice which can be discouraging especially to the beginner.
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on May 28, 2007
I obsessed about whether to purchase the regular size Manduka or the longer 85" model. I am only 5'9" tall and was told by almost everyone that unless you are 6' tall or over you don't need the longer mat. Besides, the longer model is "so" heavy. As usual, I went my own way and purchased the longer mat and am glad I did. I love the longer mat. First of all, when I am completely stretched out on my stomach, my entire body is on the mat, face, hands and feet--not on the floor. I like the balanced feeling of every part of me being on the mat. Also, when I do my various asanas, I can now start in different spots on the mat and therefore put less wear and tear on the same spots. Second, I am afraid I don't understand the "weight" issue? The 71 inch model weighs 6.5 pounds, this one weights 9 pounds. For me that's not much of a difference, especially since I am only carrying the mat from the parking lot to the yoga room, not backpacking across India. Most of the time the mat is at home anyway.

As far as the Manduka mat in general, I have used two other mats and this one provides a lot more support. I find it to be very dense and firm, with just enough tactile feeling. And, the mat does not move around on me. I really like that. My yoga teacher said this was the best mat around.I am glad I listened to her sage advice.

Joe Drew (Kent, Ohio)
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on December 11, 2007
$85 for a yoga mat? Like most of you, I had the same reaction, but it is one of the best investments I've ever made. Yeah, it's a lot of money, but the best always is -- and this mat is clearly the best. That's why your instructor uses one. You won't believe how much better your poses and jump-backs will be until you try it on this extremely supportive surface. It's well padded, but firm -- never squishy -- so your stability is excellent; and its surface relies on texture, not stickiness, to ensure superb grip, even when sweaty.

I also highly recommend the 85-inch length. I am not a tall person (at 5' 10", I am exactly average), but I love the extra length. I no longer ever find myself having to readjust a pose because I didn't start in exactly the right spot on the mat. It is a bit heavier (9 lbs.), but so what. It's exercise.

Now let me make a case for why this mat is actually a good value:

I have only been practicing yoga for a year (three 1-hour classes a week), and in that time I have purchased two mats for $30 each. One I've already worn out (material broke down from use) and the second one is on its way to wearing out. If I buy a third $30 mat I am now up to $90 in just over a year. The Manduka mat will last a lifetime and will make your practices better. And at $85, it's cheaper than any single club in my golf bag (and I carry 14 of those). So my opinion is: suck it up and spend the money. It only hurts for a minute and you'll forget all about it the first time you step onto this mat!
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on August 22, 2006
First off, I've been practicing ashtanga/power yoga for about a year and a half now. I'm not an expert, but I know what works for me. My hands and feet sweat a lot during class. Most mats I've tried turn into a slip-and-slide after the first 5 minutes. From day one I've had to use a towel under my hands at the front of the mat to keep from collapsing in down dog. I've tried them all, your standard "sticky" mat, a mysore rug, etc. The sticky mat gripped until I got sweaty then it was worthless. The mysore rug needed to be so wet to grip that I ended up sitting on wet spots (not fun). The Black Mat is the only one that works. It grips perfectly and I don't even need the towel under my hands. I also love that it is so thick and dense. It doesn't "follow" me when I jump through, provides plenty of padding for my knees/arms, and is very stable for balancing poses. I even like that it's heavy...it helps tone my arms!
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VINE VOICEon March 29, 2011
After spending months borrowing my wife's Gaiam yoga mat, she surprised me with the Manduka BlackMatPRO for my birthday. When the hefty box arrived from Amazon, I knew immediately this mat was unlike any other mat. After hoisting this beast out from its container, I was eager to pop in the YogaX DVD from the P90X series. I'll comment on a few of the Manduka's best features:

(First things first, before attempting to hold Downward Dog, beware this mat arrives with a slick coating on its surface. According to the package, one can either wash the mat with mild soap and water, or allow the mat to achieve optimal tackiness by simply using it a few times. Either way, you won't be able to take full advantage of the mat straight out of the box.)

THICKNESS: this is the main selling point for me. The yoga mat I previously used was far too thin, causing strain on my knees, feet and hands, as the floors in my apartment are cement. The Manduka is very thick and dense, minimizing the floor's impact. Awesome.

SIZE: does it really matter? Yes. This mat is a little wider and longer than most yoga mats, making it ideal for taller guys (and gals) who want a little more room to maneuver.

DURABILITY: with a mat this expensive, one would hope it can withstand years of punishment. To show their confidence, Manduka slaps a Lifetime Guarantee on this bad boy. The materials used in this mat are top-notch, and you can tell a lot of thought went into the manufacturing process. So, go ahead and abuse it; the mat will last longer than your ability to hold Warrior 2.

VERSATILITY: can the mat be used for more than just yoga? As the description states, the Manduka mat also works well for pilates, but others, including myself, use it in the P90X series as well; specifically AbRipperX and Plyometrics. The mat can take the punishment.

STYLE: plain black -- no silly patterns or pastel colors. This is a mat that is as serious as you are about your workouts. Perfect.

Honestly, even if I had not received the Manduka BlackMatPRO as a gift, I would still endorse it and spend the money purchasing it. This is an ideal workout aid for yoga, pilates, abdominal work, etc., which means it is an investment in your health. You're worth it.
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on February 23, 2006
I bought the black mat due to great Amazon Customer reviews. Bottom line with this mat: If you are going to use the mat to constantly go to the yoga studio, buy the Purple Travel Mat from Manduka. If you are keeping this Black mat at home and not needing to travel with it, its an excellent mat. The Purple Travel mat is great for traveling, light weight enough and provided adequate yet firm padding for joints/knees. The Black Mat which I returned due to its weight and bulkiness, is better as a stationery, at home mat. Its depends on where you pratice your yoga. Both Manduka mats a wonderful products.
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on August 12, 2009
I have been on the "Holy Grail", shall we say, of finding the perfect yoga mat. What is the perfect yoga mat, you ask? Well, in my perfect yoga mat world, my dream mat would be longer so you are always on the mat. It would have more height to it, so I don't have to fold mat over for knees. It wouldn't smell like a tire factory. IT WOULD BE SUPER STICKY so I didn't feel like I was practicing yoga on Crisco.

I have been through several models ranging from the "beginner" rental-like mats at the studio, and through a couple of Gaiams-which were the mid-priced models. My BIG problem is slippage-I sweat like a horse and can't find anything "sticky" enough. I read the reviews on Amazon, asked around the studio, and formulated my own conclusion to go ahead and order this one.

This mat is deeeeluxe. LOVE the length-one is always somewhere on this mat. Love the extra padding-no doubling up the mat on itself for knee issues. AND LOVE THE FACT that this mat has no odor.
Now for the stickiness/grip review: I didn't, and I should have, immediately scrubbed the mat with a mild soap, hosed it off, and let it air dry PRIOR to going to a very intense class! Yikes, I thought I was on ice. I fixed that by grabbing a rental mat from the studio, placed it over the Manduka, and had a really nice, sticky practice.
SO there is the rub- when you get the mat delivered, take some time to wash the face side (the mat has two sides. The floor side has rows of small circles or dots on it. The upside has the Manduka label on it, and looks more like a cross-hatching pattern) with some kind of soap. I went home and washed mine with liquid dishwashing detergent-I would have used Dr. Bronner's, but I was out. I did this with a washcloth and a soft brush. Then I hosed it off, and let it dry in the sun. It was primo sticky after that.
Why didn't I give it a full five stars? While I am fit enough to haul it around, this baby's weight is quite substantial. I am still sort of having this love/hate relationship with it-it seems to be sticky when I don't quite need it, and still a bit slippy when I need the traction. I have just learned that I need to bring a towel (rough, old hotel-style=awesome! NO laundry softener!) with me because, like I wrote, I sweat like a horse, and no mat is going to stand up to my specific physical issues or quirks. I have no regrets about the purchase of this mat, and glad I did.
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on April 21, 2004
I have been practicing yoga for nearly 3 years. I feel that the Black Mat is the best investment I have made. Its comforatable for all the floor work, and stable for all the standing and inversions asansa.
Its heavy, but no no one is perfect.
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on March 20, 2016
This is one heavy-duty solid mat. It looks tough. It feels tough. It is tough. The mat is dense and feels extremely firm
with all my poses. I feel more grounded when using the mat compared to my old generic soft 1/4 inch thick mat. The
extra 2 inches width and 14 inches length is greatly appreciated as well. The extra room is helpful when moving
about the mat and staying focused holding a pose.

The old generic mat is soft foam-like. It seemed to cushion my feet a bit more but does not feel as solidly built. I can
finger squeeze the Manduka PRO with some pressure and feel the resistance. With the old foam-like mat there is no
resistance between the fingers. Looking at the difference in the weights, over 6 pounds between the generic mat and
the Manduka PRO, says a lot. It’s not just the size that makes up the added weight it’s the density of the mat as well.

My old mat was used mostly at home with some occasional travel for over 4 years. It showed a little wear and tear. In
the past 6 months I continue to use the PRO mat at the same rate as the old mat, about 3-5 times weekly, and based
on the apparent toughness of the PRO mat it will last for many years; all things being equal.

I did not see the need to break in the Manduka Mat PRO other than using it. The “thin surface film” was not apparent
upon its first or later use. I had no slipping problems with bare feet from the onset of use. I felt firmly planted during my
30 minute workouts.

With regard to dripping sweat; for me it is not an issue so I speak directly to that topic. I could see this possibly being
an issue with Pilates, or hot yoga, but it was not during my 30 minute practice. Here is what Manduka's info sheet says,
"Fabric-like Surface Finish for slip resistance, even with light perspiration". So, I'd say no, this not a mat for a moderate
to heavy perspiration practice.

:: Manduka PRO SPECS :: :: :: :: ::
~ Width: 26-1/2 in. / 0.673m
~ Length: 85 in. / 2.2m
~ Thickness: 1/4in. / 6.4cm
~ Weight: 9.0 lbs. / 4.08kg.

:: OLD Foam-like Mat SPECS :: :: ::
~ Width: 24 in. / 0.61m
~ Length: 71-1/2 in. / 1.82m
~ Thickness: 1/4 in. / 6.4cm
~ Weight: 2.78 lbs. / 1.26kg

This 85 inch mat receives 5 Stars for its excellent solid construction and its sticky firm feel on my bare feet. It is pricey
compared to other mats but my thoughts are that it will last much, much, longer than those foam-like mats. I consider
this mat an investment in myself and the environment.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTES from Manduka:
Storage: recommend rolling the mat with the top side outward to help keep the corners flat. Store it horizontally. (!)

Cleaning: use a non-solvent household cleaner and damp cloth, or sponge, then hang dry it outside. Do NOT clean
the mat “with a garden hose” or put it in the bathtub/shower, or in a “washing machine”. <Now, that's funny.>

Eco: the mat is “Oeko-Tex Cetified, Product Class 1” that “meets the human-ecological requirements as presently
established for baby articles”. “No toxic emissions released during the production of this mat.” The mats are made in
Germany.
review image review image review image
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on January 20, 2010
Depending who you are (and perhaps more appropriately, how much you sweat), this mat may be the best thing or the worst. On the plus side, this mat is the most durable and stable of any mat I have tried, and I have been doing yoga for many years. Also, the bigger version at 85 inches gives you more room to work than almost any other mat on the market. Once you scrub the mat down with soap and water after you first get it (see other reviews), this mat is also sticky WHEN DRY. However, if you sweat and get the mat wet at all, it becomes VERY slippery. This has really been a problem for more rigorous vinyasa flows. You can buy a sticky towel to put on top of the mat to stop the slipping, but buying a towel for another $45 is hard to stomach after paying almost $100 for this mat. If you sweat, I would highly recommend the Jade yoga mats instead. They remain sticky when wet, but are less durable than the Manduka. Namaste.
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