I have been doing DDP Yoga since June, 2013. When I ordered my DVDs, I went out to the local Sports Authority and I bought the most expensive mat they had. It was a Gaia, and I thought it was great. It was squishy and thick and a pretty purple. I figured I had it all covered!
When my DVDs arrived and I started seriously doing workouts, I quickly realized that the mat was short. I think it's just barely longer than me. I would guess that it's 72 inches long, at best. At first glance, this probably seems sufficient, but when you start doing pushups, down dog, up dog, and other moves, you quickly find that you are constantly adjusting to either stay on the mat or off. Also, when you do down dog or plank, it is better to keep your feet off the mat because the mat stretches. It's no fun trying to plank when things are moving. I figured all mats were alike and that everyone was dealing with this, and went about my workouts.
As the months went by, my mat deteriorated a bit. It got stretchier, and it got to where, when I stepped down, it compressed heavily. It also didn't smell great, even with repeated cleanings. I felt like it was time for something new, and started eyeing the Manduka mats because everyone said they were the best. I was extremely hesitant to shell out that amount of money, so I kept holding back.
Finally, just a week or so ago, I bit the bullet and ordered. My mat arrived, and so far I've done 3 workouts on it. I am, literally, head over heels. I'm still wearing off the slightly slippery coating (it's got nothing on my old mat for slippery!), and I did put it outside for about 8 hours in the sun on Saturday to flatten it and offgas that plastic smell. Having said all of that, I am one with my Manduka and thrilled. I went ahead and bought the XL. I wanted enough length to be able to do whatever I want to do without scootching all over the place or taking time to get myself fit onto the mat. I did a workout last night with my accountability partner, and I quickly realized the joy of a longer mat, because I didn't have to think "wait, where am I on my mat?" I was able to focus on gettng my positions right and being present and in the moment. It was great!
For reference, here is a photo of my new Manduka mat under my old mat, look at the size difference!
Things to know about the Manduka versus other mats:
-The Manduka is clearly a pro mat. It is not meant for high cushioning. I know when I'm on my knee, I can feel it. (I adjusted, it's all good!)
- The Manduka has a lifetime warranty! Really. That's so super cool. It feels indestructible, and considering me, I'm happy about that!
- When you first get your Manduka, it apparently has some kind of thin coating on it that makes it (minutely) slippery. The wrapper has instructions on what to do if this bothers you. I am not concerned with it. I find it mildly amusing considering how slippery my old mat was, so I'm willing to wait it out.
- If you have space and you like to be on the mat for the whole time, really, it's worth it to get the 85" mat. I wouldn't trade it for the world, and I'm glad I spent the bit extra for it.
Overall? Loving this mat. Thrilled with it and happy it's mine!