On #matmonday it's only appropriate to share with you the basics of the actual mat. What are my favorites types of mat? Why are they good choices for pilates? How much do you invest in a mat and what in the world do I clean it with?
With all the time I have spent on the mat in the past 20 years I know a little something about them.
1. Make the investment in a good mat. If you buy a cheap one they end up stinking (It's true. If you sweat at all and have your little tootsies on it at least twice a week......if you go cheap it'll stink). You can get away with a cheap mat for about a year. The ones from TJ MAXX and Target do just fine, for a period of time. Then they start to absorb the scents of your fitness life and or they start to pill and crumble if you consistently clean it.
2. I teach pilates, not specifically Yoga. I am practicing yogi and throw many yoga variations into your M&K workouts but you're doing pialtes with me on the greater average, not yoga. Because pilates is about your core and spinal health and does so much spinal articulation, rolling like a ball, roll ups, bridge etc. you need more cush on your mat than you do for yoga. For yoga, you want the sticky and often times too much cushion just makes things overly challenging and unstable. Traditionally a pilates mat, in a pilates studio, is three inches deep with a ton of cush. Yup, you heard me, three inches. The only reason you see pilates practiced on a yoga mat is because of convenience. Most studios or gyms have yoga mats and they think 'Hey, it's a mat and we don't have to buy the crazy exsepnsive pilates ones'. And thus the fitness-pilates movement was accessible and born. But truly, to respect your spine and not end up with bruises or rug burns, you need something a tad thicker than your run-of-the-mill yoga mat.
3. You might need two mats. Crazy, I know, because I typically like to keep things minimalist and simple. Truth is, sometimes you need way more cushion and somtimes you need stability and stick. Me, I'm kinda boney, so I keep a thicker mat around for the side kick series and for rollups or roll like a ball in my personal practice. It just feels better. I used to take a sweatshirt to class, back in the day, to throw under me for those exercises because when I didn't, it was so uncomfortable I couldn't even think about my core or my alignment. You can try the sweatshirt technique as well, but if you're willing, you might look at an additional mat.
4. Take care of your mat and it will take care of you. Clean it. Clean it after every workout. Clean it with something lovely and natural and not caustic and chemical. If you clean your mat with chemicals, it'll eat away at your mat over time. Plus, it'll absorb into it and then you'll be inhaling said chemicals every workout that you do. These days I make my own mat cleaner with a recipe a friend of mine shared with me. It's super simple, all natural, smells amazing and does the job of disinfecting! It's a complete win, win, win.
Recipe for an 8 oz spray bottle:
1 cup distilled water
20 drops Tea Tree Oil
20 drops Lavender
5 drops of Lemon
Spray on your mat for anti-microbial, natural cleanliness and just wipe off with a towel.
Plus, you can spray it EVERYWHERE; on your body, bedding, carpets, couches and bathtubs/showers.....yup, I've done all of that (at least once a week) and am in essential oil heaven.
Mats I love:
For all around good service with enough stick and enough cush that lasts FOREVER. No joke, I've had mine 7 years and in the lifetime of a mat, it's immortal. The Manduka eko Mat. Yes, it's $89 and please don't make me do the cost per workout breakdown of the last 7 years for you. It's worth the investment. The mat isn't super heavy if you do travel or opt to carry it back and forth to a class.
For the extra cushion on your bones, the Harbinger Treated Mat is the way to go. Between $35-$44 depending on where you buy it from and it has it's own velcro attached to keep it together for easy storage. It's super light for as thick as it is, but best kept at home as it's a bit bulky to trapse back and forth from any class or for travel.
And finally the 'luxury' piece if you're looking for something fun and custom or perhaps a lovely gift, Yogamatic is the route to take. This is where I order my logo mats from. You can upload any photo and they'll custom print it on a mat for you. Pretty cool. It takes up to nearly three weeks to get it, but if you time it right, it's worth it (they print custom mats on Tuesdays so order on a Monday). It's not uber cushy, but the quality is super high and the cool factor is through the roof.
If you spend a lot of time on your mat, as I hope you do because you're a www.matandkitchen.com member and are working out with me 2-6xs a week, you're going to need a mat you love and connect with. It's your space. Your landing pad, fill up station, your 'Momma Time out' or your sanctuary. It's an important space and should be honored, loved and taken care of.