Sunday, May 24, 2009

Manduka eQua Hand & Mat Towel Review

It seems like the only thing I've been reviewing so far is Manduka products! You'd think they were paying me to do this (I wish!)

Well I dunno about you, but I sweat A LOT when I practice. In fact, an old teacher of mine and a good friend as well, once commented "you sweat like a guy when you practice!" Hrmph. With friends like him, who needs enemies? LOL! ...and that's just in a regular yoga class, I'm not even talking about a Bikram or Power class where the room is heated. Er, let's not even get into my sweat factor in those hot yoga classes.

I dunno why I never considered the Yogitoes towels. I guess when they're priced ridiculously at something like US$60 for one, you really think twice if you *really* need one, or whether a good old regular bath towel on your mat will do. And I guess since a good old regular bath towel had been fine for me all the 7 years I've been practising, I kinda figured "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

That is, until I went home to Singapore a couple months ago and was practising in a couple of the ashtanga shalas there. Now, the last time I was home, all the ashtangis were using the old-fashioned Mysore rugs on top of their mats - y'know, those oldskool Mexican poncho-looking rugs with stripes on them. They never really caught my fancy since they're kinda daggy-looking and seem hard to wash since they're kinda thick. Anyways, fast-forward a few years down the road, and now suddenly EVERYONE was using either the Yogitoes or Manduka eQua towels on their mats. I figured they must be onto something and maybe it was time for me to check out what these fancy yoga towels were all about.

To be completely honest, it didn't matter to me whether I went with the Yogitoes or the Manduka, but my teacher recommended the Manduka eQua, PLUS! (and this is an important point) She also had a friend who distributed them and would give her students a discount. Ah! Music to a bargain-hunter's ears! (I would've used the word "cheapskate" too... it's really interchangeable with "bargain-hunter", innit?)

OK, OK enough with the history lesson, time to get onto the review itself. I need to clarify that these are the "new & improved" eQua towels, the ones launched this year which are slightly plusher than the previous batch they launched with. I purchased one each of the mat towel (in Thunder. In lay man's terms, that's really a grey) and the hand towel (in Sunrise. I thought it was red. It turned out to be a hot pink-fuschia.). I have no idea how thin the previous versions were, but for a "plusher" version, they're still pretty darn thin!

When you first unroll them, what you notice is its extremely soft, velvety material. It's not quite furry, but you feel like you're petting a soft toy. In fact, they're almost suede-like to the touch. After chucking them in the washing machine for the first wash, I hung them out to dry - just on a regular rack inside the apartment, they weren't even outside in the sun. And when I checked on them about 1.5hrs later, they were both completely BONE DRY. I didn't think to check them earlier, but I'm pretty sure they were dry for a while before I got to them coz even when they came out of the machine, they felt like they were quite dry already (not soggy with water, like towels usually get straight out of the washer).

I currently practice on the Black Mat. It's NOT Manduka's Pro black mat, but the original German transformer mat - some say this is the mat the Manduka was modeled after. Whatever. It looks and feels similar to the Manduka Black mat - just that where I was in South Africa at the time, this was the only heavy-duty mat I could get my hands on in the country without paying an arm and a leg in postage fees for the Manduka. The only difference I can tell when you compare it with the Manduka is that it's narrower and longer, and doesn't have the small circles on the underside. Otherwise, it looks and feels exactly the same (but more importantly, it has lasted me more than 6 months and still looks brand new! ...but that's a different story for another time).

I've gone through this whole mat spiel only coz I know some people might be interested in seeing how this towel fits over the mat. In my case, the towel extends over the mat a bit on both sides, however I do know that when you use it on the wider Manduka Pro mat, the entire towel stays within the mat, with a bit of room on either side. Here are pictures of it over my mat:

And here's a picture of the eQua on the Manduka mat, taken from Grimmly's blog:

Here's what the hand towel size looks like in comparison to the mat towel:

And of course, they both have the Manduka frog logo hot-stamped into them on the corner.

I've been using both towels for a good month now, in an almost daily ashtanga practice. And can I just say... WOW! How could I have practised without it all this time? Firstly, for the mat towel, you definitely need to spray it with some water before using. Without water, it's as slippery as doing downward dog on a piece of suede. But after that first spritzing, it's really grippy, and surprisingly supportive.

My problem with using bath towels all this time was that they'd invariably keep bunching or flipping over, especially when rolling over your toes from Upward to Downward Dog in the Sun Salutations. With the eQua, there was no such problem. In fact, with the eQua, there was no problem with bunched-up towels AT ALL. And I found it especially handy with the jump-throughs coz I tend to drag my feet on the floor, and on a number of occasions I have either ripped little holes in my mat, or got blisters on my feet from all that dragging through (yes yes, engage bandha and lift up more, I know!) Because of the velvety, soft material, jump-throughs are much smoother and a less painful experience on my feet. I feel like I'm gliding through them now.

As for the hand towel - when I first wiped it across my face, it was a really weird sensation. Kinda like wiping velvet on your face: it feels like you're not wicking any moisture away at all. I even had to touch my face to be sure it was no longer wet coz I couldn't quite tell at first! The weird thing is, even though it feels like you're wiping a suede cloth across your face, it's an extremely absorbent piece of suede. It soaks up everything even though at first it feels like it wouldn't. In fact, it's better than any other regular towel I've used coz most towels get drenched with sweat and end up a gross soggy mess. And you couldn't find a dry patch by the end of your practice. With the eQua hand towel, by the end of class it still feels like I can wipe and wick away my sweat even though there's not a dry patch left in the towel. It's rather hard to explain except that it just works.

I would highly, highly recommend both towels. In fact, because they're both such quick-drying towels, I'd say they're probably a better buy than the other fancy yoga towels available (and cheaper too!) Especially if you travel regularly and need to use something on your mat when you come to those seated postures - they're extremely lightweight and quick-drying. After about a month of using them, I'm happy to say that I'm definitely sticking with them.

I can't say how the eQua compares to other yoga towels, check Grimmly's blog for his comparison between the Yogitoes and the eQua.

UPDATE: Here's what The Reluctant Ashtangi thought of the eQua too.

Hope you've found this helpful! The Manduka eQua towel link here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Attempted Murder Fail

I haven't laughed so long and so hard than I did after reading this news article, taken from one of my fave blogs, Fail Blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lelong! Lelong!

So our boxes from South Africa finally arrived last week. I've managed to unpack only 3 out of the 14 boxes so far... the ones with all our clothes and shoes. Of course.

I was looking forward to a same-old-brand-new wardrobe since I've been wearing the same clothes for the last 3 months... but once you've survived for that long on only one suitcase's worth of clothes, you suddenly realize "Hey, I really don't need that much". (Kelly would probably laugh if he read this coz compared to him, I still have TONS of stuff). ...but it's really been pared down quite a bit! Really!

So while unpacking boxes of stuff that I probably would never wear again (and also probably not be able to fit into... coz since when did you know anyone over 30 who's still a UK 8?) I decided it was time to get back into an old past-time of mine: EBAY!

If you didn't already know, I was big-time into it in the year before we left Singapore for South Africa, even owning an eBay store and getting Power-Seller status for sourcing and selling cult brands like Baby Phat, Abercrombie, Primp (you have to earn a certain amount and have positive feedback from your customers for an extended period of time to get Power-Seller status). But it all stopped when we moved to South Africa coz... well let's just say the South African postal service is notorious for having sticky fingers. Even Amazon stopped all deliveries to S.Africa because of the alarming rate of postal theft (I know, pretty shocking innit?)

So this time around, instead of selling brand-new designer stuff, I'm hawking off all my previously-loved stuff. I'm only midway through the auctions which close this weekend, but have already got bids on 8 out of the 30 items so far. And A LOT of people watching all the other stuff too. (As the seller, you can tell how many people have put your items on their "watchlist", so while there may not be any bids on them yet, it's highly likely bidding will happen closer to the end of the auction since there's interest in them).

I can't believe people have bid on my second-hand gym gear. I personally wouldn't be able to wear something knowing that someone else had been to the gym and sweated in it. Even if it had been ME. Ugh (in my case it's not gym, it's yoga.) I guess there's always different strokes for different folks! Since all my items have a starting bid of 99 cents, I guess that's also a pull factor. Plus, I take care of all my stuff really well!

Ladies, here's a tip... if you're hemming and hawing over spending money on that brand name-something, just do it. It's the stuff with a well-known label on it that are getting the most bids and watchers in the second-hand market (yes, even used gym clothes)... and I'm not even talking about high-end designer stuff. I haven't even got round to listing my Y3-Yohji Yamamoto trainers yet, so wait till eBay gets a load of THAT!
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