We are thrilled to announce that we are carrying Manduka’s line of eKO yoga mats. I had the good pleasure of breaking a brand new one in and wanted to share my thoughts…
First off, these mats are super grippy, so if you are looking for maximum grip in a yoga mat, then look no further. I pulled off the packaging (a minimal wrapper) and started an impromptu practice of poses to challenge the mat’s qualities. Right away I could tell how sturdy the mat is, and that grip in even the most demanding of poses wouldn’t be a problem. After a few moments of breathing in childs pose and warming up with cat/cow I moved into downward-facing dog, and then one-legged down dog. On most mat’s initial practice you would likely feel the slippery film presenting problems, especially on Manduka’s Pro line, which are still my favorite mats on the planet but maybe not by as much as I thought after testing the eKO…
I practiced a high lunge with no slippage on the back foot. The bigger issue with the eKO is maneuvering your feet placement with so much grip. This is one reason I like the Pro and Prolite mats, one can easily adjust their feet and ‘slide’ things into place with ease. However, I liked the immediate stability provided by the eKO and I believe many students will appreciate the firm cushioning combined with stellar hold power for slippery hands and feet. A standing split pose to feel my balance on the 5mm natural tree rubber – solid. Now time to really challenge the grip-ability… due to tightness in my shoulders & lats my forearm tends to slide, the elbow winging out, when I practice funky pincha – the half handstand, half forearm stand pose. This does happen to me on my Pro mat at home sometimes, so I really have to work to keep the arm hugging in. I popped right up into funky pincha on the eKO with the elbow snug in behind the wrist and a boost of confidence in my pose’s foundation.
It was time to test how the wrists felt in handstand.. feeling very supportive in the hands with just enough cushioning for my wrists I allowed my legs to flow behind me and arched my back into scorpion handstand. I was really enjoying my inaugural practice on my new eKO – I may just swing back and forth between using the eKO and my Pro.
Feeling that my body and hamstrings were warmed up enough I wanted to try coming into Hanumanasana. I was thinking of how I appreciate the freedom of movement that the Pro mat affords by wiggling and adjusting the feet if they don’t land perfectly upon initial placement. Perhaps I came into the pose a little too easily, but I had no issue landing the feet and sliding my back foot just a little of the back edge of the mat. This may be the only pose, well this and when on rare occasions I spring back through a chakrasana, that I could use the extra length of an extra long mat. The standard length of the eKO is 71″ the same as the Pro series. The lighter weight eKO Lite comes standard at 68″ good enough for most, and is a comfortable 4mm, still offering the comfort and stability while shaving a few pounds. For yogis over 6′ you will probably like the extra length, and there are a few eKO color options that come in 79″. Let us know and we can special order an extra long in whatever color you prefer.
Final thoughts: I did feel just a little of the slippery film in the first practice, but it didn’t affect my postures and that should wear off after a couple uses. The natural rubber smell is a little unpleasant at first, and my hands did smell for a little while later even after washing them a couple times. It wore off though, and so does the mat’s smell. I think this can easily be overlooked based on the comfort of the mat, the strong grip, and firm support. I think this is an excellent mat! Final Grade: A
Thanks Manduka for another quality product! We are pleased to carry in store both the eKO and eKO Lite in a variety of colors. Pick one up your next visit – you won’t be disappointed.
Let me know what you think.