Monday, August 11, 2008

Manduka Eko Lite, Where have you been all my life?

*This mat didn't turn out to be as great as I thought. Updated review after 1 month of intensive use, click HERE*

What's a girl to do when her trusty yoga mat starts flaking to pieces? ...if you're mildly OCD like me, you research yoga mats to high heaven to find the perfect one.

After 6 years of continuous ashtanga/ vinyasa practice (a vigorous flow practice) about 4 - 5 times a week, I've gone through many a yoga mat. The flimsy Nike mat didn't last more than 3 months, the typical 6mm PVC mat, though nice and cushy for ashtanga, was too heavy to transport to and from class and inevitably ended up flaking too. I ended up compromising with the generic 3mm PVC mat which is light enough to pack for frequent work trips away, but it mildly annoyed me coz apart from it bunching up every now and again during practice (coz it was so thin), I would also go through an average of one a year.

They all eventually ended up peeling and flaking, and by the end of a hot, sweaty class, I'd find icky bits of mat stuck all over me.

Not a very good look.

Also, the thought of all those mats filling up garbage dumps, never to break down any further made me feel a tad guilty.

For some reason, I'd always resisted splashing out on what they call the "Rolls Royce" of yoga mats - THE Manduka Mat. Don't get me wrong. I practised at Pure Yoga in Singapore for 2 years and every studio they had came with prefixed rows of Manduka Purple Lite and Black mats, so I've had lots of practice on them. They're still by far the top-most quality mats you'll find... but I guess they've just always been far too expensive and too heavy for me. If I'm going to pay THAT much on any mat, it better be PERFECT and not "still too heavy". At almost 3.5kg, I'd have to workout before carrying the Black mat to class!

Enter my yoga mat saviour: the new-ish Manduka Eko Lite mat. It's been getting rave reviews on the net. Try reviews here and here too. (I've got more links where these came from - told you I researched it to death!) Since it's all of 3.5lbs (approx. 1.5kg)... it's light enough for me to consider. Also, it's eco-friendly, with no carcinogenic PVC and at half the price of the original Black mat - this bargain hunter knows a deal when she sees one!

Lucky for you if you live in the US where Amazon delivers for free. Sorry for you if you live in South Africa where Amazon has just stopped all deliveries to because of postal theft (?!) So what's a girl to do? Call in her trusty sister in the US to help!

Yes, I can't believe she agreed to let me send her the mat through Amazon (Free Super Saver Shipping!), then she painstakingly re-boxed it so no Amazon logos showed, and offered to post it to me on her account. It was only after the mat got here that I realized the postage to here cost more than the mat itself. Gulp.

I can't really say more than what's already been written about the mat in all those reviews and anyway, all I can say is: PHWOAAAAARR! For a skinny 3mm mat (and I'm the queen of thin mats), it sure is one heckuva solid thing. It's not as light as I thought it would be, but I can't believe how firm and solid yet stable it feels! It's kinda-sorta-almost like the Purple Lite in the way it absorbs your weight. And although it looked like some parts of the mat were not completely flat against the floor, it felt completely stable and didn't bunch up. It's also more grippy than the Purple mat.

Tammy had already taken it out of its original wrapping to check it before posting it to me, but this is what the wrapper looks like:

(Yes, what every review says about the "rubber smell" is true. But it's not a bad smell... kinda smells like new rubber tyres on your car.)

Like all Manduka mats, they've branded it with their tag on the side of the mat so that it goes on both the front and bottom of the mat.

What struck me about the mat at first was the sheen on it - it looked so shiny I almost expected the texture to feel cloth-like, like a satin weave of sorts. So it's quite a disconnect when you touch it and realize it's a really tightly woven type of rubber that's very grippy. The front part of the mat has long wavy lines on it, which makes the mat feel nice and sticky.

And the back has a rougher, more pronounced pattern on it.

The other plus point is since it's a closed-cell mat and doesn't absorb water - it's completely dry now, 3hrs after washing it. The old open-cell mat took more than a day to dry sometimes (which made me not want to wash it in case it didn't dry in time for the next day's practice. How gross?)

Now that I'm finally over my sickness, I can't wait to get back on my spanking new mat tomorrow!

*This mat didn't turn out to be as great as I thought. Updated Review after 1 month of intensive use, click HERE*


  1. Hi, I'm just in the same situaution as you were and I'm considering to buy the EKO Lite....but I wonder about the break-in period. How long did it take? I'm a very slipepry girl and need super sticky stuff. Thanks!

  2. Hi Anonymous,
    Have you read the follow up post? Click on the follow-up review after 1 month of heavy use during a yoga teacher training I went through. It didn't last! (there are links at the beginning and end of this post)

    This mat isn't everything I thought it would be after daily, intensive use. And now, about 6 months later, I've had to give it up altogether coz it's started peeling even more and become just like the regular PVC mats with bits of flaky stuff. Then again, I'm a regular ashtangi, so unless you're doing constant vinyasas and rolling over your toes and jumping through all the time, then I'd say don't get this mat. Otherwise, if you're doing a regular hatha or bikram practice, this eko-lite mat should be pretty cool. No break-in period either - it was great after the first wash and extremely grippy right out of the box.

    I'm currently using the Black Mat. It's the original german transformer black mat, the one Manduka's Pro mat is based on. I'm giving it about 1 - 2 months use before writing a proper review on it. It's been 2 - 3 weeks so far and I'm loving it. Again, no break-in period and feels super solid. It's very heavy though, but I figure since it'll last a lifetime it's better for the environment that I don't keep throwing out mats every 6 months!

    I hope you find your perfect mat... the quest continues! x

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