Lululemon's The Mat ($68)
Rating: Trust It!
I want to first express how hesitant I was to purchase ANYTHING lululemon (let's call it unwarranted contempt prior to investigation). After experiencing an enormous amount of frustration at my hands slipping in downward dog on my Manduka ProLite, I consulted one of my instructors & friends and was pointed in lulu's direction. After trying out her mat, I was pretty much convinced.
I've had The Mat for about 6 months, and it has held up well to daily (sometimes multiple times a day) use and weekends of teacher training. Most notable was the difference I've been able to feel in my poses; now that I don't have to keep adjusting, I'm able to get deeper into poses and hold them longer. I never realized how much my form was suffering until I was able to hold it properly. Truthfully, $68 for a mat is not bad IF you are getting good use out of it. I've spent more on other mats that I haven't been half as pleased as I am with this one. I will say, however that this is the onlylululemon product I own (maybe I'll win the lottery and buy some pants).
A few caveats: This mat WILL show sweat, etc. I have the black mat and don't have this problem, but I know others that do. Opt for a darker color if that bothers you. Personally I'm more concerned with function than appearance, but to each his/her own. The mat also has a strong rubber smell at first- I don't mind it, but hanging it outside for a day will help.I don't even notice the smell anymore. This mat will also eventually wear out; extend the life of your mat by taking care of it and wiping it down after practice (I use Aurorae mat wash and mix my own wash as well).
If there's anything I've learned from my experience with different yoga mats and talking to different yogis, finding the right mat is very unique to the individual. There are so many variables to consider: length, color, amount of cushion, slippage, frequency of use, type of yoga practiced, biodegradability, etc. Then of course there is that "feeling" I liken to Cinderella's fitting into her glass slipper. Sometimes it will just feel right. Some swear by Manduka or Jade; others prefer the standard $10-15 or Gaiam mats. Hopefully I can help guide you towards your perfect yoga mat!
... as used by Emily Walkup