When I last went to a Jivamukti yoga class, I had to chalk up my hands. My beloved Lululemon yoga pants were ruined within seconds and I was still slipping and sliding all over the place. This has become even more apparent when I’m doing yoga in my flat, where my wooden floors cause my mat to slide around everywhere – not to mention the current heat. Without chalk, I’ve been struggling. As it turns out, a grippy mat is the way forward for me, so I reviewed the best natural rubber grippy mat in the business – the Yogi Bare Paws Mat.
Yoga has so many brilliant benefits for your body, mind and soul. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but it’s absolutely right. And given the current environment, these things have become even more important. But when you can’t get to your favourite yoga class, and you’ve got to sort out your own at-home equipment, picking the best yoga mat for you can be a challenge. There are lots of things to bear in mind, from travel mats to cheap Amazon options, you need to make sure your yoga mat has the right length, grip, padding and weight to ensure you’re practicing safely from your home, and not going to cause any unwanted injury.
Yogi Bare Paws Mat Review
Unboxing my ‘magic carpet’ box was a super exciting lockdown delivery, and I couldn’t wait to get right down to it. I opened up an online yoga class, unrolled my new mat and got right down to business.
At 180cm x 66cm, the mat is a little thinner than I’m used to, and meant that from the outset I was more focussed on my form and centering, helping me to keep my alignments more in check.
It’s 4mm thick, meaning it’s perfect for vinyasa flow and savasana in particular – my favourite type of yoga and everyone’s favourite posture!
Understandably, rubber has a bit of a distinctive scent. I made sure my first few classes were done in a well-aired room, and the smell has faded pretty rapidly.
The real game changer? The grip. Famed for its non-slip technology, the Yogi Bare Paws mat is made from an eco-friendly natural rubber and PU, and means that your hands stay firmly in place, no matter how much you’re sweating. From your active rests in down dog to more dynamic postures like crow and fallen star, this mat will give you one less thing to panic about while you try to hold each of your poses more elegantly and engage your core without slipping. So far, so great, I haven’t slipped once and it stays firmly in place on my wooden floorboards. Next step, trialling it in the park…
The Yogi Bare Extreme Grip Paws Exercise Mat costs £68. It’s a little at the higher end of the price bracket, but in my opinion it’s absolutely worth it. Lightweight, perfect thickness and the best grip I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ll ever look back.
Why did you found Yogi Bare and what was the gap in the market you spotted?
Yogi Bare was created out of a feeling – of belonging and not belonging. Because we’ve all been there. Standing in a class unsure how literal dynamic will be taken, searching “Yogaeverydamnday” on Instagram, setting a 5am alarm to meditate and feeling guilty when not quite making it. For me, yoga was my back pocket healer. I discovered it quietly, softly, in rehab when I was struggling with acute anxiety and PTSD which I sought relief from in addiction. Yoga seemed like this exotic, mystical magic. I couldn’t explain it but I knew I felt it. It shrunk demons. Tethered my mind to my body until they fell back in love with each other.
I eventually trained as a Yoga Teacher to help people struggling with whatever set them off course. There was a resistance to the idea of yoga being something for other people. That you had to look a certain way, have gymnastic skills, that the world some how couldn’t touch you with its stress, heartbreak, naughtiness to be “good at yoga”. “I’m not flexible enough” is too often people’s response. I felt yoga should remain accessible, fun and full of magic and delight, not comparison, competition, staid or elitism. So I got to work.
Yogi Bare is the physical manifestation of the concept of yoga being for everybody and every body. I wanted to develop a range of eco-sensitive products with accessible price points after seeing a slight shift in a strand of yoga defined by wealth, social standing, gender and ethnicity. I wanted to bring some fun and personality to a world that can sometimes seem alien or difficult to access. The name isn’t just a fun play on words but the Bare is symbolic of the eco credentials and a sense of stripping back. It’s is my love letter to the rebels, those who didn’t feel like they fit in before.
How do the Yogi Bare mats and products differ from other brands, and what do the materials offer for better practice and performance?
Because they are magic carpets!
I always found it at odds with a practice that’s to connected to nature to be practicing on a toxic PVC mat. So I started Yogi Bare to provide accessible eco mats that were incredibly high performance. No slipping from down dog to plank to face-plant anymore, our mats are super grippy and thick and stable enough not to budge on carpet or hard wooden floor.
What are your top tips for at-home yoga practice?
Whenever I think of home yoga I have a vision of a New York loft, framed by arching windows, all the plants … and maybe a personal orchestra playing softly in the corner. Unfortunately this is not my set up. Far from it. But nestled in between the laundry basket and the interuptions we can still find peace. Surround yourself with little pieces of magic that make you feel good. Our brains, the clever things they are, pick up on cues which in turn direct our emotions and nervous system to fall into a certain state. Create your cues and rituals to guide yourself into a feeling. Because that’s the real Yoga anyway: the surrender, the feeling, the sweetness.
For me my essentials to send your mind elsewhere are scent – I love– a vibe-y playlist to inspire movement and play and a grippy mat that you allows you to truly practice instead of being caught up on slipping.
In terms of the actual practice – for me all and any movement is incredible and worthy. If that’s lying with your legs up the wall, slow sensations or something short and dynamic. Its all amazing. The trick is not to be self judgemental or put pressure on your practice to be any one thing.
How have yogic principles and/or practice helped you deal with lockdown and anxieties?
Theres a reason we say come back to the breath in class. Its because it grounds us. Back into body, back into present, back into who we are. When our mind is a storm and our thoughts are savage winds, the breath helps us with stand.
My practice was a slow subtle one born out of anxiety management and boy, have I needed it these last few weeks! Usually in our wider lives, the ones beyond our homes, we are so distracted by the conveyor belt of activity. But now we can’t run away from our feelings, our discomfort. We have to learn to be ok with ourselves, with all ourself. We have to learn to sit through the painful parts because the only way is through them. No matter what is or has come up for you – know that is ok, you aren’t alone in whatever you are thinking. If you need to reach out, reach out, but equally know you have everything within you to console, to heal, to grow yourself. It just starts with a deep loving breath and then another, and another – forevermore.
What are the eco-conscious elements of your brand and why are they important to you?
Yogi Bare mats are crafted from sustainable and biodegradable materials and non toxic, water based inks. We’ve spent time visiting our factory to not only meet our standards but also in spending time you see the actual process of manufacture first hand and most importantly how the people creating our products work day to day.
For every Wild Paws mat sold, we plant a tree with Matt Smith and HomeTree Ireland and our latest mat, Luna Paws, donates to the ocean by supporting the work of Sea Shepherd. To me sustainability means to be connected to the real. Slowing down and shopping sustainably also helps us make better choices in all aspects of our lives, including remembering our keep-cups and realising that items that the internet is telling us we need aren’t always essentials. Better, sustainable choices build into a kind rebellion.
Tell us more about the Yogi Bare rebrand
A logo is not a brand, a brand is a feeling. Brands are created by a community through feeling, a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose. That’s a brands identity.
A brand is so much more than a logo. And so is Yogi Bare.
From June 2020, Yogi Bare will have a new look, even more true to the playful, cheeky and honest reflection of the brand we see today. We’ve refreshed with the new symbol to represent the resilient Yogi Bare community.