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Jade vs. Manduka: Yoga mat throwdown

Jade vs. Manduka

Photo: Flickr/LululemonAthletica

New York is filled with fitness rivalries: Mets vs. Yankees, Flywheel vs. SoulCycle, and now Jade vs. Manduka—the manufacturers of the best-selling yoga mats.

Even though a non-competitive, live-and-let-live spirit pervades yoga philosophy, yogis take sides when it comes to mats. Considering that it’s the only major piece of equipment required and an important decision, maybe it’s no wonder?

Studios have their preferences, too, based on the loaner mats they stock: You’ll find devotees of Jade at Jivamukti and Manduka at Kula Yoga Project.

We spent months sweating on both Jade and Manduka mats—and tapped the Well+Good community on Facebook and Twitter to hear what makes someone a die-hard fan of one mat or the other. What’s the best mat in class? Read on:

Jivamukti and Jade Yoga

New York yoga luminaries Sharon Gannon and David Life of Jivamukti pose for Jade yoga mats

JADE, www.jadeyoga.com

Jade is currently New York City’s “it mat.” It has an all-purpose reputation and a democratic price point ($64.95 for the premium Harmony model and $49.95 for travel or those who carry their mats everywhere). All Jade mats are made from tree rubber, and with every purchase, the company plants a tree, which kinda makes it hard to find fault.

Though some yogis are fickle, most readers we talked to loved the stability and stickiness of Jade mats—3:1 over Manduka—and Jade loaners seem to be found in more NYC studios (according to our admittedly non-comprehensive quest).

But some hard-core yogis complained that the stickiness doesn’t work for vinyasa or flow-based styles. “In chaturanga to up-dog transitions, you need to slide your feet back a bit as you roll over them for correct alignment. Yogis with a strong core and floating ability can manage to slip their feet back on a Jade. But for most of us, this is very difficult,” said one reader. Another complained that after a spell in hot yoga it “stretches all over the place,” but she loves it so much she’s just going to get another.

Other assets mentioned: It doesn’t come with that slick “just-manufactured film” that you have to wash off with apple cider vinegar. And it’s not “heavier than a medicine ball.”

Takeaway: Jade’s got mass appeal—hitting the right combination of affordability, stickiness, and tote-ability for most New Yorkers.

woman using Manduka Yoga Mat

(Photo: Tiffany Assman, Flickr)

MANDUKA, www.manduka.com

The Rolls Royce of yoga mats. Manduka has yogis throwing down $90 for its legendary Black Mat Pro, and $100 for limited edition colors—currently a black sapphire. The Black Mat Pro is favored by many yoga teachers, has a lifetime warranty, and its deep cushion and non-slip bottom make it a far cry from the plastic sheets many New York City yogis are used to practicing on.

The aspirational price tag yogis can overlook, but not the Black Mat Pro’s weight problem. Because it tops 7 pounds, it’s “super impractical” for yoga-mat-toting New Yorkers. Said one yogi: “For me [the choice is about] weight over almost anything else. The Manduka is super sturdy (whereas I usually have to replace my Jade mats every 9 months or so), but it’s SO. FREAKING. HEAVY.”

Manduka’s lighter mats, like the Manduka Pro Lite ($68–$70), cost less and still feel sturdy. But the yogis we talked to either loved it and how it folds up or found it “ice-rink slippery.” Perhaps more a factor of a yogi’s sweat production than the mat’s construction? The popular Manduka Eko mat (made with tree rubber and subject to kleptomania) has the “slight slip required for chaturanga transitions.” The Eko Lite ($36–$42) can “buckle a little on the floor” but is otherwise “a great option.”

Takeaway: The pricey Black Mat Pro is more of a commitment—and its 7-pounds-of-cushion make it best for yoga teachers and yogis who leave their mats at a studio. Manduka’s light-weight models are solid spin-offs. —Melisse Gelula

Got an opinion about your yoga mat? Tell us in the Comments area, below.

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40 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. March 29th, 2011 at 11:38 am

    My hands get so slippery, the jade is the only mat I’ve found where I don’t constantly have to replant my hands. Love it. Also, does anyone have any tips to help hands from sliding forward in downdog?

  2. March 29th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I have owned both types of mats. The Jade mat was ok at first, but the performance really broke down over time. My Manduka Black Mat and Pro Lite have lasted for years and still perform like the day I bought them. I have not had any issues with them being slippery, but I do use one of their awesome eQua towels when I practice Bikram.

  3. March 29th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I love everything Manduka, but my heart (and sweaty hands) belong to my Jade yoga mat.

  4. March 29th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I have 2 Manduka Black Mat Pro mats and I love them. I have owned and used other mats and they just dont hold up to daily use or give me the cushion I need for 90 minute sessions. I use an eQua towel in my heated class to both prevent slippage and collect the sweat. They are admittedly heavy and I might switch to the lighter versions if I were carrying it in the city but until then, you cant pry this baby away from me.

  5. March 29th, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I hated the Manduka. I have no idea what the hype is about! I slid all over the place, a mat from Target worked better.

    I took a friend’s advice and got “The Mat” by Lululemon, and I am completely in LOVE!! This is the best yoga mat I have ever used. I highly recommend it!

  6. March 29th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Eko Lite Pro is my favorite mat in the world! I test the cushion-ness, not enough and my hip bones are horrified in stomach balancing poses and too much (which is most mats) I step off for balancing poses. And you will have it forever, who cares if something is less expensive and made of tree if you are committed to buying it every 1-2 years?

  7. March 29th, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I really loved my Jade–I went through my teacher training with it–and was heartbroken when it started stretching (despite my attempts to practice non-attachment). Hearing that a fellow yogi’s Manduka PROlite was on it’s 7th year and still going strong, I went with that for the Jade’s replacement. I find it has a bit more cushioning than the Jade, but isn’t heavier (I do cart my around the city). It does seem a bit more slippery, but not by much, though it’s tough to compare a newer mat to a well-used one on that front.

    Both are wonderful mats though, you can’t go wrong with either one.

  8. March 29th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Full disclosure: I have not used a Jade mat. But I love my Manduka. I have a PROLite, not too heavy, still super-supportive, and been with me for going on 3 years. It takes a while to break in and wear off whatever that ‘new mat’ slippyness is, but after that it’s yours forever. And the company has a really good vibe. But at the end of the day, it’s about whatever works for you and your practice.

  9. March 29th, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    I am in love with my woMANDUKA, my second one and when I roll it out I feel grounded, secure and all one, it’s totally my security blanket. Several students have followed and now we are 8 strong in yoga classes.

  10. March 30th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    My fave is the Manduka EkoLite. I’m on my 3rd one. Used one to death, accidentally left the second one in Tulum, and now I’m on number 3 and will probably go on to get number 4 once I wear through it.

    I find that it’s good and sticky. I think I have extra-slippery sweat that turns Jades and the Manduka Pro mats into slip ‘n’ slides. The Mandukas are also not too cushy so I don’t feel like I’m on a wobble-board as I stand on one foot.

    I also like that the EkoLite doesn’t have a super-strong rubber odor. Back when I owned a Jade, I felt like no matter how much I washed my hands after practicing, they still smelled like rubber.

    But that said, tons of my students and friends are in love with Jade. It just doesn’t work for me. At least lots of studios use them as their rental mats, so you can test drive them before buying your own.

  11. March 30th, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I searched high and low for a Manduka PRO in Australia after wearing my way through countless cheaper mats. So glad I made the effort, it is everything I wanted. I was worried about the weight factor as I like to carry mine to the studio, however the bags I make have made it a breeze to carry them around, messenger style. LOVE my Manduka.

  12. March 30th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I haven’t used a Jade (but I have used Lululemon’s “The mat”, which appears to have the same surface). I use a Manduka Pro and love it. It’s cushioning without being spongey; never slides around on the floor; doesn’t stretch (or shred, which is how all my past yoga mats met their untimely deaths); and is as grippy as any mat could be considering I use it daily either in hot yoga or Ashtanga. It also Yes, it’s heavy, but that’s not a problem if you can leave it at the yoga studio, which I do. If I was still carrying my mat everywhere I’d have to find an alternative (it’s WAY too heavy for that, and I don’t think the Lite version would be cushioning enough in, say, Janusirsasana B) but as a ‘non-portable’ mat, it’s ideal.

  13. April 4th, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Well, I use neither of these, though they’re both great mats. I’ve found the best for my practice is the Eco Yoga Mat, which combines jute with rubber and is touted as eco-friendly — also a consideration. Got mine at http://www.barefootyoga.com

  14. May 28th, 2011 at 4:32 am

    YogaZura currently stocks Manduka yoga Mats within Australia.

    I have used both Jade and Manduka mats. If you’re looking for the best performance and durability then I think either the Manduka PRO or PROLite mats are the way to go, you’ll get more life out of them then the Jade’s. They do take a little while to break in though.

    Both the Jade and Manduka eKO mats are made from tee rubber, great for the environment, but it means they have a shorter life cycle and will naturally deteriorate over time. I think they’re pretty comparable in performance, though the Manduka eKO has a tri-layer technology which gives it a bit more stability which prevents wrinkles and stretching.

  15. June 18th, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I have both. A black mat pro that I use for my home practice and a jade that I take to studios. The Jade mat has been great, but after a year is pilling and stretching every time I use it. It is not made to hold up to extended daily use. The black mat pro is slippery when you first get it. It has to be broken in….but once it is, it is completely worth it. It’s heavy, which is why it stays at home, but that’s where I prefer to do my main practice. I have been able to stabilize myself in arm balancing and inversions in a way I never could with the Jade.

  16. August 19th, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    [...] But while we’re on the topic… which do you prefer, Manduka or Jade (check out this article!)? My suggestions for this type of freedom from “the crazy-train of thoughts” [...]

  17. November 9th, 2011 at 6:00 am

    [...] 2011John Friend wants you to have more room on your matJohn Friend and his new yoga matLast week, Manduka announced the John Friend Collection, a new line of extra-large yoga mats created in collaboration [...]

  18. December 27th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Yes, I agree, the Jade Yoga mat is the way to go. Plus there are great ways to use it with pretty much any exercise that you do.

  19. January 6th, 2012 at 9:31 am

    I purchased a Manduka pro lite mat. After struggling to use it for 5 weeks I found the slipperyness unacceptable and contacted Manduka for a refund. I was told I was past the 30 refund limit and to scrub it with sea salt and dry in the sun (quite the feat in CT in the winter). I did a salt scrub 2x and still as slippery as ever. I called them again and they made me send the mat to them so they could do the salt scrub themselves and decide for themselves if the mat is slippery. If they deem it slippery I have a choice of getting another model mat they offer. NO REFUND! They have yet to send it back to me or contact me so I don’t know what the final outcome will be but I can say one thing for sure: NEVER EVER EVER BUY A MANDUKA MAT! Just for their lack of customer service if nothing else. Very poor business sense.

  20. February 17th, 2012 at 7:27 am

    [...] There seems to be a Jade vs Manduka thing going on. Some prefer the spongey feel of the Jade while others prefer the hardness of the [...]

  21. April 4th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    It really is time to move past the Manduka vs Jade debate we think. The Eco Yoga Store has been selling yoga mats for several years and can conclude after talking to many customers each practitioner has a slightly different body oil composition and all release different levels of sweat and body oil during their practice. At the Eco Yoga Store we stock Manduka because their range is far more extensive than Jade. They make 100% natural rubber mats. (Anyone slipping slightly on the coloured side of their eKO should turn it over as the back side is almost identical to a Jade!) But Manduka also produce high quality German PCV mats that have a lifetime guarantee. That is just as eco as buying a rubber mat as you are buying a product that doesn’t need to be purchased over and over like a rubber mat does. Also the German PVC is produced under very strict environmental controls. The Manduka range has something to suit any yogi regardless of how much and what is in their sweat!

  22. April 17th, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    The Lululemon mat is also Manduka… just has the lulu label….

  23. May 10th, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Well, if you made it all the way down the comment list – here is my experience: Owned the eKo Manduka first – working on Hanumanasana, I tore up the top of my mat b/c this mat just is a layer of rubber. (Manduka said they’d give me % of next purchase) It’s really heavy to tote around especially at convention & retreats and I always felt it my back/shoulders. I’ve bought the Jade and have really loved it for the past two years – great for balancing poses and not too heavy. I just noticed recently that when I got up from class that I had mat “crumbs” all down the front of me – aww! Love the saffron color of the new Jade but I’m thinking of going Manduka b/c of having to replace every 2 years or less – carbon footprint.

  24. May 10th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    [...] Jade vs. Manduka: Yoga Mat Throwdown [...]

  25. July 15th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Bought a Manduka Pro and cannot stop slipping. I’ve bathed with it four times now (using mild soap and a scrubby to clean it) and have lightly sandpapered it to no avail. I truly regret this purchase and would advise anyone with slippage issues (i.e. persperation) to look elsewhere.

  26. August 4th, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    I bought the Manduka and stubbornly tried to use it for two years. As a hot vinyasa yoga teacher, I would get so frustrated at sliding around, that I would give up and do yoga on the ground! I slid constantly on the Manduka, no matter how many times I washed it. It was awful. I never slip on my Jade mat, ever…love it. Buying the Manduka was a terrible waste of money.

  27. October 18th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    [...] right. After donning your Lulus, rolling out your Jade mat, and performing a few Sun Salutations, you’re probably ready for a light breakfast. And if [...]

  28. January 21st, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    I’m so relieved to know that i’m not the only one experiencing major slippage on the black yoga pro mat, after several washings with soap/water, then on to the sea salt! it was sort of an improvement but any moisture in air from the studio or my own sweat, make it very difficult to stay in any position. I’m so very disheartened, as it was not a cheap purchase. did anyone buy their yoga towel to use with it? i hate to invest any more money into this. I will likely go back to my old mat, from Giaim (gasp)!

  29. February 6th, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    I have yet to try Jade. I do have the Black Mat Pro and the eKO Lite: I prefer the Lite for travel and the Pro for in-home practice. The only issue I have with the Pro is that it does get quite slick from perspiration…the Lite does not.

    The Lite tends to bind on a non-solid surface while the Pro does not.

  30. May 2nd, 2013 at 12:36 am

    [...] Article Source: http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com/2011/03/28/jade-vs-manduka-yoga-mat-throwdown/ [...]

  31. November 15th, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    I have never owned or practiced on a Jade. I searched the web for just such debates and ended up purchasing Manduka’s The Black Mat. I love it! I have been practicing daily on it for over a year. It took me about a month to break it in and for it to not be slippery anymore. After that, its been the best purchase of my practice. It is heavy and I do carry it back and forth to class. I’m an instructor and teach at several different studios, so my mat travels with me. I recommend it to any student who asks.

  32. December 27th, 2013 at 9:40 am

    I own em all. Just dont let yourself slide.
    Its part of the asana or getting to it..:)

  33. February 25th, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Lululemon’s “The Mat” is pricier than both Jade and Manduka’s top selling mats. However, my practice completely shifted when I started using “The Mat”. I considered it an investment in my practice and can say after 3 years of use (practicing 3-4 times/week) it’s still in excellent condition and provides the perfect surface for Power Yoga class.

  34. April 5th, 2014 at 12:26 am

    The classic battle here! I’m personally a huge Manduka fan. Use the pro lite for daily use, and the Manduka eKO superlite for travel.

    Been traveling with the Manduka eKO superlite for 3 months and counting in Asia. It’s been working great, super light and sticky, but it is REALLY thin which means kneeling poses hurt my knees after a while. Overall, my favorite traveling yoga mat I reviewed.

  35. May 15th, 2014 at 9:41 am

    I LOVE my Manduka yoga mat! Like others have mentioned, I do have sweaty palm syndrome and have to use a towel for hotter yoga practices, though I wouldn’t replace it for anything else.

  36. July 2nd, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I have a Manduka Pro and love it. I also tend to have sweaty palms and find it none slippery. In hot yoga I use it with a Manduka towel and it works perfectly fine.

  37. July 28th, 2014 at 2:13 am

    I hated the Lululemon mat. No matter what I did it was slippery and hard! I finally returned it and just bought a Jade mat.

  38. November 18th, 2014 at 1:04 am

    You guys should do a revaluation with a new mat on the market by Kharma Khare. All KK yoga mats are made from recycled car tires, which are more eco friendly even than Jade’s made from tree rubber. All recycled materials! And no break-in period required. Absolute incredible grip: http://www.kharmakhare.com

  39. November 18th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I just purchased the Manduka Pro Lite and am currently dealing with the slippage issues. But after 2 salt baths and an ACV wash it seems to be getting less slippery. So I’ll likely keep it since it has a lifetime guarantee. But it would be nice to have another lighter, stickier mat for other purposes like travel and hot yoga.

    @Jenny–I like the idea of the Kharma Khare mat using all recycled materials, but does it have the lingering rubber smell?

  40. November 19th, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    With regard to the Manduka Pro: “So freaking heavy”…Really? I guess it’s a good thing you don’t have to carry a rifle around town with you, or fetch water every morning. Pathetic.

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