To help you find workout gear that's as functional as it is stylish, we're trying out the latest products and letting you know how they fare when we put them to the test.
In a hot yoga class, your mat can go from a supportive, grippy surface to a slip 'n slide in just a few flows. It's tough to find a yoga mat that's sticky enough to hold your palms and feet in place during downward dogs, yet smooth enough to rest your head during a child's pose. Sure, you could always use a yoga towel, but those usually end up folded or scrunched in a ball by the end of class. So, when Manduka announced a brand new yoga mat with technology designed specifically for heat and sweat, we had to see how it'd fare in a hot yoga class.
The GRP yoga mat is Manduka's first "towelless" hot yoga mat, which makes it ideal for minimalists who don't want to fuss over a towel all class, explains Joanne Sessler, global vice president of product for Manduka. "For GRP, we wanted to create a really technical mat that can be used without a towel and actually gets more grippy with more sweat," she says.
The top layer of the GRP mat is made from fancy material that absorbs sweat so the surface of the mat doesn't get slick, Sessler says. Your sweat passes through the top layer, and then moves into a layer of charcoal-infused rubber, which is supposed to act as a natural deodorant. "The charcoal in the middle layer absorbs [the sweat] and also eliminates odor that can get 'trapped' in other mats," she says. So, your hands and feet are able to stay positioned on the mat, and your mat feels dry to the touch.
I used the GRP in a Y7 hot yoga class, and despite how absolutely drenched I was, the mat actually worked. Usually, I have trouble keeping my hands in one place while I get settled in downward dog, but the mat was sticky enough to stay planted firmly on the mat. When sweat dripped on the mat, it got damp, but not slippery. Sara Coughlin, health and spirit writer at Refinery29, also used the GRP in a Y7 class, and agreed that the surface felt dry and almost tacky for the full hour. Plus, the bottom of the mat stuck to the floor and it didn't slide around during class, she said.
At the end of class, I did notice that there were a lot of sweat marks on the mat, so I wasn't sure if I should let it dry before putting it away or if it would just dissolve. Manduka's website recommends wiping down the mat with fresh water and a cleanser, then using a dry cloth to soak up any excess water, and finally hanging it dry before storing it. Oops. I was in a rush, so I just put it in my bag.
Compared to the yoga mats that they let you rent at Y7, the GRP is much thicker and more cushioned. According to Sessler, they wanted the mat to feel dense to provide support at all points of contact. "The density on the GRP mat creates a really luxurious feel and makes for an elevated practice," she says. Personally, I liked how thick it is, because my joints need a lot of support during kneeling poses. However, Sara told me the thickness made it more difficult to feel the floor during standing balance poses. The other noteworthy thing about this mat is that it's quite heavy, so you definitely need a bag to carry it.
So, would we recommend buying this?
At $98, it's definitely a worthwhile investment for hot yoga fans. If you usually use or rent a towel during class, you'll have one less thing to wash at the end of a hot yoga class. Over time, the more times you wash the towel, the less grippy it will be. And truthfully, the GRP works much better than most yoga towels, anyways. While it's on the bulkier side, it's a solid option for yogis who usually look like this in a downward dog — but want to look like this.