The best Ashtanga yoga mat! If people only knew the meaning of Ashtanga, they wouldn't use it this way. I've described it below.
I'm very particular about what equipment I use, so when I choose an Ashtanga yoga mat it needs to fulfill some quite specific criteria. Essentially, I want to make sure it is going to be up to the task - it has to be thick enough to cope with high impact, yet have enough cushioned resistance to make my poses stable and comfortable.
Manduka Black MatPro
Ashtanga is a pretty intense yoga discipline, and I find that I can very quickly work up quite a sweat, so my mat has to be able to cope with moisture without becoming sticky, and at the same time be non-slip. One of my favorite mats is the Manduka Black MatPro, it has a slip resistant surface which means it doesn't move about all over the floor while I'm exercising. The latex is a 1/4” thick as well, so is ideal for the high impact movements. At a little under $100 this is one of the best mats around and it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Another good quality mat that I use for my practise is the Jade Elite, this is also a 1/4” thick and it comes in two different width sizes (24” and 28”) as well as three different lengths (68”, 74” and 80”) which means you feel as if you've got a custom made mat and all for under $125. Made from natural rubber - a renewable resource - it also has excellent green credentials, and is one of the best slip-resistant products on the market. In fact it is not only used by Yogis worldwide, it is also very popular with Pilates students because of its great natural cushioning properties.
Traditionally, Mysore rugs, (named after the city of Mysore in India), are used for Ashtanga yoga. Made from cotton they absorb perspiration really well and have a great gripping surface for standing postures. Rather than use one on its own, I put mine over the top of a sticky mat for added traction to stop it moving about on the floor. These Indian cotton mats come in all sorts of bright colors and designs and are fantastic value at under $40.
The meaning of Ashtanga
Ashtanga is the eight limbs of Yoga. Ashta means eight. The eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Now you must also be wondering why a mat has been names after this word. I'm wondering too.
This word Ashtanga can be found in the 'Patanjali Yoga Sutras' which is the bible of yogis.
Now back to the Ashtanga Yoga Mat! the two things I would say to you when buying such a mat is firstly to make sure it is thick enough and cushioned enough for you, and secondly that it is slip resistant. My two favorites offer all of these essential qualities and I highly recommend them both.