I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left a yoga class – or, hey, even been in the middle of one – when someone has asked me if I am okay. The instructor, the girl to my left, the guy to my right, bystanders cleaning the studio windows. And I don’t blame them.
My natural pallor converts to tomato red once we start pulsing, and the nonstop rolls of sweat – in my eyes, dripping into my mat, making it impossible to get a purchase on my own body – concern anyone who’s had EMT training or watched a “Grey’s Anatomy” episode once on an airplane to worry.
But, fear not, everyone, for I am fine. I may not be having as much fun as you – because I’m too busy digging my taut, exhausted heels into the mat to avoid hydroplaning off of it and into you – but I’ll finish this 75-minute hot yoga class without a problem.
Despite the fact that my yoga practice often includes such uncomfortable compromises in the fine print, I loved the rest of it too much to stop going. So, for years, I put up with the slippery mats; stuffy, too-short towels; and butchering certain moves because my tendons were on fire from clinging to a now glass-like surface like Alex Honnold ascending a New Jersey skyscraper.
Meet the Manduka GRP Mat ($98)
So, you can imagine my excitement – only overshadowed by skepticism – when I heard that Manduka, the company consistently responsible for the industry’s best-performing yoga tools, had spent the last three years engineering a yoga mat that could withstand hot yoga without a towel: the GRP Mat.
“Bring the heat. Lose the towel. No matter how much you sweat, the Manduka GRP delivers supreme traction with no slip” the site reads.
The GRP (short for Grip Ride and Performance) is supposedly the ultimate hot yoga mat – and which should also work seamlessly in every other yoga environment.
It retails for $98, and it has some upgrades that make it Manduka’s most innovative one to date: The top layer is leather-like for no-slip traction, the rubber core is charcoal-infused to absorb sweat and mitigate odor, and 100% open airflow filters moisture immediately to reduce sweat and bacteria buildup. According to the company, it should get grippier with sweat – an industry paradox – because unlike other closed-cell yoga mats (which is the standard), the GRP is made from open-celled polyurethane, which lets the mat breathe – taking in moisture, and letting it evaporate.
My experience using the GRP yoga mat
A few things immediately surprised me about the GRP: how thick it is (6mm thick, 5 lbs heavy), and how truly different the top layer feels – very much so like a leather, and unlike the suppleness of a rubber mat. GRP feels more substantial.
Upon unrolling it, I noticed it also had a pretty unpleasant smell. Though, if it worked well, this was nothing that I couldn’t forgive, or fix with a deep clean.
In my hot yoga class, there were a few standout moments. One is that when you slap the mat on the floor there is a ring of finality to it – once it lays flat with a “smack” it’s not moving. Even in all the classes I’ve taken to it since that first test, it has never slipped or moved during a class.
Most importantly, though, the GRP Mat does a fantastic job of absorbing sweat. It’s the only yoga mat I’ve comfortably used without a towel in a hot yoga class, and I was happy enough to toss my other mats in favor of this one. To me, there’s no question that it’s worth the $98.
It took far longer for me to even see the sweat on my mat (maybe 50-60 minutes into a hot yoga session), and even then it was far more manageable. It was refreshing to be able to attend hot yoga and be completely present – listening to the instructor, challenging myself in my poses, and enjoying transitions rather than slipping around. Over the month and many classes I tested it in, there were points when I started to lose a little traction, but I didn’t experience it in most classes – far from the norm.
One thing I’d like to point out is that since it sucks up all the sweat from your body, you should be cleaning the GRP, just like any other mat. Manduka recommends the Everyday Yoga Mat Cleanser ($14) for regular maintenance and, for a deep clean, the Deep Cleaner ($18) every two-four months. Thankfully, an initial cleanse did help me get rid of the smell.
According to Manduka, the GRP’s core and bottom layer are made with sustainably harvested natural tree rubber and manufactured in a sustainable factory in Spain to ensure no toxic emissions are released into the atmosphere. Manduka’s ability to keep prices low even with an integration of sustainable materials is one reason we picked their ProLite Yoga Mat as the best overall in our Insider Picks buying guide for yoga mats in January 2019.
The Manduka GRP isn’t perfect, but it is far and away the best yoga mat I’ve used as a sweaty yogi.
I can get through hot yoga class without a towel, and that’s something I’ve never been able to say before. The secondary concerns like the smell of the mat upon arrival certainly aren’t deal breakers for someone who loves yoga but hates how sweat changes their practice. If you like having a light, thin yoga mat – and you’re fine with just a mat and a towel in your practice – then you may opt for another mat. But, for me, the GRP has been an exciting discovery.
All in all, it’s a great use of $98, and I’m glad Manduka spent three years creating it. If you’re considering the GRP, I’d recommend giving it a shot.
Find all the best offers at our Coupons page.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Picks team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected]