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Yoga mats: Prana, Manduka, Hugger Mugger

In the United States, most yoga practitioners use a standard sticky mat. As the popularity of yoga continues to grow, however, mats tailored to specific practices, different needs and varied preferences are being designed and marketed. In fact, you don't even have to use solid-color mats anymore if you don't want to. Although we didn't review them here, the mat menu these days includes ones with designs, combinations of colors and even aroma. Here, SNEWS® reviews three mats.


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In the United States, most yoga practitioners use a standard sticky mat. As the popularity of yoga continues to grow, however, mats tailored to specific practices, different needs and varied preferences are being designed and marketed. In fact, you don’t even have to use solid-color mats anymore if you don’t want to. Although we didn’t review them here, the mat menu these days includes ones with designs, combinations of colors and even aroma. Here, SNEWS® reviews three mats.


Prana Surya Yoga Towel

Prana’s Surya Yoga Towel combines the functionality of a rug, the coverage of a blanket or shawl andthe absorbency of a terry towel at a fraction of the bulk and weight of the alternatives.

The thin, supple, chamois Surya towel can be laid over your yoga mat to absorb sweat. Once you’re heated up, it’s a slip-free surface. The Surya Towel is cut to the size and shape of a yoga mat for full coverage on the floor, and it offers extra drape if you want to wear it like a shawl or blanket at the end of class or during meditation. Unlike a rug, you can also use the absorbent Surya Towel to dry off during or after class.

The Surya Yoga Towel is a light, versatile, affordable and machine-washable addition to your yoga bag.

SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $38

For more information:www.prana.com or 1-800-557-7262

Manduka PurpleLite Travel Mat
Manduka’s PurpleLite Travel Mat fills the gap between a standard sticky mat, which can wear out quickly with regular use, and a heavier mat sometimes called “black” or “instructor,” which are durable but can be expensive and heavy.

The PurpleLite has the knee- and spine-saving padding and the durability of a black mat, but it has a mid-range price and is relatively light. We used this mat frequently for several months without any signs of wear and tear. The underside has a pattern of flattened dots that holds the mat exceptionally stable even in the sweatiest conditions. The bottom grip pattern is imperceptible from the top of the mat. The top surface pattern provides non-sticky traction in sweaty conditions that would normally require a rug or towel. Though the mat is heavier than a standard sticky mat, it is half the weight of a “black mat” for only slightly less padding.

The PurpleLite Travel Mat is cut 2 inches more narrow than a heavier black mat, is the same width as a standard sticky mat and rolls into a similarly compact package — although “travel” may be a bit of a misnomer since it’d still be too bulky to pack and schlep on airplanes or other trips because it does have significant mass and does roll instead of fold. Still, it travels to and from local classes for daily practice quite well.

SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $57 (regular, 71-inch length), $64 (long, 85-inch length)

For more information:www.manduka.com or 805-544-3744


Hugger Mugger Hot Yoga Tola Mat

Sweat-soaked towel bunching up under your standing bow pull pose? Is your Triangle turning into the splits as your feet slide across your mat? Hugger Mugger’s hot yoga Tola mat comes to the rescue of sweaty yogis.

The mat’s thick, soft pile is absorbent and actually becomes less slippery the wetter it gets. Its rubber backing, reminiscent of a bath mat, also helps with slippage on the floor during your practice and keeps the mat from bunching up or creasing as you move from one posture to another. Some users complained of a “slight squelching” or squeaking sound during seated poses when the mat became really sweat-soaked, but it seemed minor enough not to deter them from using the mat.

Also, the mat needs to be washed often. Though it held up well in the machine, some users expressed concern about the wear-and-tear of frequent washing. (We’ve all seen the rubber backing on bath mats disintegrate with washing.) The mat can be used for non-heated types of yoga, too, although it is a bit more slippery than a standard sticky mat. Also, use caution when practicing with blocks, as they will slide easily on the mat’s fuzzy surface.

SNEWS® Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $65

For more information:www.huggermugger.com or 1-800-473-4888