Manduka to Liforme: A Yoga Mat Journey

When I first started doing yoga four years ago, I started with the cheapest mat I could find. I figured, like most of the hobbies and workout fads I’d tried over the years, I’d quit doing yoga eventually so I didn’t want to buy an expensive mat.

This was my first yoga mat and it sucked so much. It had no traction and after a few hot yoga classes, the adhesive started to deteriorate and the mat came completely undone.

One day, after struggling through another practice, the yoga teacher talked to me about it. She told me my mat wasn’t supporting my practice, and she recommended a Manduka mat which she used in her personal practice and for her studio. The next time I was in class, I rented one to see if I could tell the difference, and it was like night and day. I bought a Manduka mat instantly, and over time, it made a huge difference in my practice.

Enter the Manduka PROlite Mat

The Manduka PROlite has been my one and only yoga mat for the last three plus years. It got me through my 200-hour yoga teacher training and has even traveled with me to Italy! It’s soft and spongy, and it’s never smelled like plastic. It doesn’t slip and slide during a sweaty session, and it keeps me grounded for all those balance poses. I have this exact shade of blue (turquoise?) and I always get compliments on it. It’s never let me down; it’s never torn, ripped, or failed to perform in any, way shape or form. It’s been reliable and I love it!

And yet…

I couldn’t help but wonder about all these other cool yoga mats I kept hearing about. Before I knew it, I’d convinced myself that I needed a second yoga mat, one that would stay in the car and be my studio mat. I did my research and narrowed my search down to the Liforme Travel Mat.

Enter the Liforme Travel Mat

Several factors went into picking this mat but it boiled down to quality and uniqueness. Liforme yoga mats are made in a sustainable way: they’re biodegradable, non-toxic, and PVC-free as well. I also liked that each mat has alignment cues and the length is slightly longer than the standard yoga mat. I decided on the travel version of the Liforme yoga mat because I wanted something light and easy to tote to class.

When it first arrived and I started using it, I had mixed emotions on whether I liked it. There were several strengths to this new mat but I couldn’t help but notice that my Manduka PROlite was better in other ways. It took me a few practices to start vibing with my new mat but I got there, and if you’re thinking of buying one, it’s likely you will too, but here are some of the most notable pros and cons for me:

PROS:

The alignment lines help

Initially, the alignment lines were confusing and they made me overthink during practice, and I kinda hated them. Over time, I’ve come to embrace them! The key is to take what’s helpful and ignore what you don’t need. I find that there are some days where I don’t care about the alignment lines at all, and other days when I take great pleasure hitting all the angles perfectly. It all depends what kind of head-space I’m in, neither mode is right or wrong.

Superior grip, even in sweaty conditions

The grip on this mat is excellent and superior to my Manduka PROlite. I used to have to use a towel with my Manduka mat but it’s completely unnecessary with the Liforme mat. Fair disclaimer, I’m not the kind of person who sweats buckets during hot yoga, and if you are, you may still need a towel. The overall feel of the mat is satiny but grippy when wet, which is different than the spongy/soft feel of the Manduka PROlite. It’s a pleasant sensation on the fingertips, and if anything, is a little too grippy. If you drag your ashy/dry feet across it your skin might peel off some. 🤣

Doesn’t have a plastic scent

Although the mat has a slight scent to it at first, it fades with use over time. And the scent isn’t a chemical or plastic scent, it’s more like a faint rubber smell (which makes sense because it’s made of natural rubber) but it’s not bad. You’re not supposed to use any essential oils on this mat because they can break down the mat and make it age faster, but I cheated and cleaned it with a lavender oil/water mixture the first time, and that seemed to help it lose the smell some.

CONS:

I hate the bag it comes in.

When I was doing my yoga mat research, the fact that the Liforme products came with their own carrier bag was a huge selling point. But once I started to use the mat in day-to-day life, it became clear right away that this bag would be annoying. The main problem is that the bag was clearly manufactured to fit the yoga mat precisely if you roll it up perfectly. I’ve never in my life rolled up a yoga mat perfectly. Also, the zipper, rather than being a straight line across the bag, is in this rounded pattern. Presumably, this construction is to make it easier to put your mat in the bag but that’s not at all the case. The material is flimsy and the strap is thin and cheap. I’m using it because that’s what it came in but I’m not crazy about it.

Visible sweat stains will bring out the OCD in you

One thing that bothered me at first, but I was later okay with, was the visible stains on the mat. Having been used to my Manduka mat, I wasn’t used to being able to see every sweat, grease, and oil stain show up on my mat. There’s something about the unique construction of Manduka PROlite mats that give them more of a woven appearance. Contrast that with the smooth, silky, appearance of the Liforme mats; the mat looks like a piece of rice paper after you’ve applied it to your forehead. Here’s the thing though, once the mat dries, the stains go away. But if you get a little OCD with this stuff, it will bother you to see the grease stain your forehead left on the mat after child’s pose, and it’ll stare back at you for the rest of class.

You can see the sweat stains pretty well in this video review.

Rough on the knees

I knew what I was doing when I purchased the travel version of this mat, I knew it would be thinner than a standard mat, but I thought it would be fine because I’ve never had any knee issues. Alas, this mat is very thin (2mm thick compared to my Manduka PROlite which is 5mm thick) and my knees definitely felt the difference in poses like pigeon, tabletop, and anything that requires you to bring the knees down. At first, I denied it, that the thinness bothered me, but now I realize I need to just put ego aside and use a blanket or hand towel under my knees with this mat, it is what it is.

I wouldn’t count the thinness as a complete negative though because I also love how much more grounded I feel. In standing poses, I can feel and grip the floor better with my feet, and when I’m on my back, I feel so much more supported. It also feels great when I get into a ball and rock back and forth on my spine, I feel everything so much more and I love it. So, I guess it’s also a pro.

In conclusion, what this yoga mat journey has taught me is that there is no such thing as a better yoga mat, only a different one. The Liforme yoga mat has several features that make it instantly likeable and off-putting all at the same time. I’ve come to appreciate it and its become the primary yoga mat I use on-the-go for studio classes. However, using the Liforme also made me appreciate my Manduka PROLite that much more, so I use my Manduka for my home practice. Each seems more suitable for their respective jobs; the Liforme is light, thin and highly suitable for an athletic and movement-heavy yoga, and my Manduka, thicker and heavier, cozy for my slower and stretchier practices at home. Both mats are wonderful and you’ll love either one, Namaste! 💕

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