Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mysore rug, Manduka, or generic sticky mat?

Hmm... I said in an earlier post today that I was having a really full day today (and I did: Taught two classes back to back. And they went really well, at that :-)), and yet here I am, writing my third post of the day! How is this possible? Do I, like, have a life?

This post is inspired by something that happened in practice this morning. As I mentioned in my earlier post today (see this post), I had to use a Gaiam sticky mat for practice this morning, as I had to put my mysore rug in the dryer. And I found my balance considerably compromised during the standing postures; I almost tripped in Trikonasana, because my left heel got caught by the stickiness of the sticky mat as I was turning it to go into Trikonasana on the first side. Tripping in Trikonasana... how embarrassing! (Like anybody's watching, right? Headline news in tomorrow's NYT: World-famous Ashtangi Nobel suffers embarrassing trip in Trikonasana. Loses 10 Ashtanga Power Points.)

But seriously, this incident reinforces my long-held belief that when it comes to Ashtanga practice, nothing is as reliable as a mysore rug. (Of course, it is also entirely possible that my balance this morning was exceptionally bad. But I refuse to believe this...) A mysore rug gives you just the right amount of grip, so you don't slip; but it doesn't have so much friction as to make the mere act of shifting your heel a near-acrobatic endeavor. Moreover, I like the feel of cotton on my feet.

But I am aware that not everybody shares my opinion on this. Many Ashtangis seem happy with their Manduka mats (some even swear by it), and others seem content with a generic sticky mat. I don't mean to be rude, but how do you people do it? Or do I really need to work on my balance?

26 comments:

  1. Just for the record (hoping that no loss of Ashtanga Power Points occurs), I lay out a Manduka Black with the Mysore rug folded in thirds across the middle of it. When I step out for Trikonasana, I can just get my foot past the rug. By the Prasaritas (or, if it's not a sweaty practice, by Paschimottanasana, or Krounchasana, if I'm doing Intermediate), I flop out the rug and go for the rest of the practice.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't practice on a bare mat. I do swear by my Manduka for it's density and support, but only in combination with a mat towel. Dry, the mat is too sticky, and wet, it's way too slick. I don't know how anyone practices on a Manduka without something absorbent on top. I'd kill myself sweating all over that thing without a towel. I've never used a mysore rug, but the mat towels are nice because they are just grippy enough to keep me from slipping, but smooth enough to allow for a little sliding action in standing transitions or on days when the jump backs and jump throughs are a struggle. And, as you mention, it feels nice under the feet.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've been practicing on a Manduka without a mat towel. But am considering getting one though because i'm getting very sweaty...

    till this post, i've never heard of a mysore rug. thou shall go google now =_=

    ReplyDelete
  4. WOAH. and it's not expensive too~ :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sivananda ashram Yoga retreat Bahamas offers yoga therapy certification course. In Yoga therapy they teach Thai Yoga Massage.

    Sivananda yoga therapy

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Nobel

    I think it depends how much and how you sweat. Sorry to everyone if that's a bit urgh but there you go. I have a towel but only need it for kapo and final backbends. I leave it out after kapo though so there is less faff. This is the case even if I am really sweating in the shala as I seem to have sticky sweat, too much information !? Sorry! When I get to pincha I have to fold the towel back or my arms slide. My mat is by planet sadhana which is like a manduka mat, they are different to a sticky mat in that they do not grip you so much I feel like I have to use inner stability more? They also do not absorb water at all so if it is wet, you need a towel or rug for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  7. My Manduka mat s totally fine till I start sweating. I've just never found it too sticky, and don't trip on it or get stuck when I swivel my feet. But as soon as the sweat starts to flow, I need the Eco towel... Those things are great, I could not practice in a room without one. (though in cooler rooms I can get by with just the Manduka for my whole practice.)

    I have never used a Mysore rug. But my impression of them is that they must be very heavy to carry around, which for me is an automatic "no.". I have only seen ppl use them on top of their mats... It sounds like you use them instead of a mat though, Nobel?

    ReplyDelete
  8. A Mysore rug (mine is from barefootyoga.com) isn't nearly as heavy as a Manduka black. And for outside practice, I just use the rug, no mat underneath (sure there's some foot-sliding, but it's ok).

    ReplyDelete
  9. HA HA HA, I wish that was in the New York Times... :-) do you put the mysore rug for the standing poses? I only use it from the moment I sit... guess live and learn!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Patrick, interesting thing you do (folding the Mysore rug across the middle of the Manduka): I think this shouldn't incur any loss of Ashtanga Power Points :-) I think I've seen others do this as well. For me, I just use the Mysore rug right from the start, so I don't have to fuss with this.

    Which makes me curious: Why do you (and others who does this same thing) start out with the Mysore rug folded across the middle, rather than just start out practicing on the mysore rug? Isn't it less fuss to not have to fuss with unfurling the mysore rug in the middle of practice? Just curious.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Megan, I agree with everything you say; I would add that the Mysore rug does the same thing for me as the mat towel does for you :-)

    yoginicory, are you thinking of getting a mysore rug now? :-)

    Hello Helen, thanks for sharing. Don't worry, this is not TMI :-) I guess it has never occurred to me that there could be such differences in the, uh, viscosity of sweat. I've always been under the impression that sweat that is not dried off or toweled off becomes a semi-sticky film on the skin surface (oh no, is this TMI now?), so that we all end up with sticky sweat at some point.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. As Patrick pointed out, a Mysore rug (incidentally, Patrick, mine is also from barefootyoga.com :-)) is actually lighter than a Manduka. Although a mysore rug rolled up and carried together with a generic sticky mat might be almost as heavy as a Manduka. And a Manduka and a mysore rug rolled up and carried together is definitely heavier than a Manduka alone... But I'm sure you know this already! :-)

    When I practice at home, I use the mysore rug instead of a mat, because my practice room is carpeted, and there is no risk of the rug sliding all over the place. When I am in a studio (which usually has a wood floor), I place the mysore rug on top of a mat.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Claudia: ;-) Yes, I use the Mysore rug right from the first Surya A, and it stays there all the way to the end of the practice. Which brings up the same question I posed to Patrick: Why do you only use it from the moment you sit? Isn't it less faff-inducing to just have it there from the beginning all the way to the end? Just curious :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ah, but a Manduka mat can be wiped off and stored at a studio every day, while a sweat-soaked mysore rug would (I imagine!) need to be carried to and fro ;) Basically I only need to carry my Equa towel back and forth every day, and it's quite light.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Interesting, Stephanie. I don't practice at a studio regularly enough to be able to store my mat there, so I don't know this.

    ReplyDelete
  16. To answer the "why faffing you?" question about rolling the rug out, I find that a cotton rug is slippery (slightly) when totally dry and when dry hands/feet are on it, so my early Suryas and, on a chillier practice day, even standing poses, have sliding feet if I roll the rug out from go.

    The Manduka black is, I find, super sticky until liberally sweated upon, at which time it's useless for sticking.

    It's a bit of a faff to roll it out say mid-Prasaritas or after the vinyasa down from Vira II, but I basically roll it in an exhale, inhale climb onto it, exhale seated, and proceed.

    And Stephanie, YES, agreed. A post-practice rug needs at least a carry home and dry if not a wash. I'll certainly be getting a lesson in this when I'm in Austin for the summer solstice plus ten days :O

    ReplyDelete
  17. Since I am still new to Ashtanga, I use a 10 dollar cheap mat. I don't know the differences, but the only problem I have run into is that it is not big enough. I thought I was just being a little spoiled in telling myself that since I've stuck with Ashtanga for nearly three months that I deserve a higher quality mat, but your post helped me to see that there really is a problem with it being too small.

    As for cushion, it is harder to balance on the mat instead of my wooden floors. I guess that will be a plus.

    And as for the stickiness, I just pull up an arm/ leg a little higher before final placement. In the beginning, I relied too much on the stickiness to 'hold' a position but was able to correct that last month once I realize it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Nice Guruji impersonation, Patrick :-) (South Indian Accent: "Why Faffing, you?")

    I see what you are saying with the rug-being-slippery-when-totally-dry issue. I have felt that too. I guess I just roll with it, and try to use more lower leg muscles/bandhas/whatever to maintain a stronger grip until I start sweating.

    I like how you have basically incorporated the rug-rolling action into the vinyasa count. Very nice! :-)

    Have fun in Austin with David Swenson. I feel like I should go to a workshop or immersion or whatever somewhere too, but am still trying to decide where to go and who to study with. Kino's one-week workshop in June is already sold out.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hello Salena,
    when you say there is a problem with its being too small, do you mean that the standard sticky mat is not as wide as the mysore rug. I think this is true. But I've never had any problems with this width issue. Do you?

    Too much cushion can cause stability issues too: Hard surfaces are good for the wrist, because they provide stability for the wrist joint in chaturanga, downdog, and arm balances. Which is why I generally do not use a sticky mat underneath my mysore rug when I am practicing in a carpeted room.

    "In the beginning, I relied too much on the stickiness to 'hold' a position but was able to correct that last month once I realize it."

    One more reason to use a mysore rug :-)

    ReplyDelete
  20. i am also new to ashtanga and have started using mysore rug on top of the sticky mat. i think mysore rug only would be too hard for me ;-) i do find it a bit slippery when i just start but have discovered that correct engagement of muscles fixes this.
    also, i have a problem with rolling toes in from my chaturanga into upward - downward dog and teacher suggested a double layer mat could maybe help. i somehow think it's the technique i have not mastered as yet ;-( is this a common problem with beginners?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hello ivanalindgreen,
    welcome to Ashtanga! I think rolling toes in from chaturanga-updog-downdog isn't just a beginner problem. I catch myself not doing that with proper alignment too; I suppose that means I'm also a beginner :-)

    But I'm not sure if having a double-layer mat would help that much. With or without the additional cushioning, one still has to get the body to learn how to do the transition with proper alignment.

    ReplyDelete
  22. i thought so ;-( struggling with that at the moment but starting my first mysore classes soon so hoping to feel some progress.
    thanks for your blog - very interesting read and valuable for such a beginner ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. diveintoashtanga: Very cool! Look forward to reading about your mysore class experiences on your blog :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Interesting to learn that you practice on a carpeted surface! Our apartment is carpeted too (though it's not the super thick, shaggy carpet type), and I hate it because the Manduka slips and slides all over the place. Plus, it's horrible for balance. So a Mysore rug works huh? I should get one myself and try it out...

    In the shala I practice without the towel up till Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. That way I can finish the standing postures and slide straight into seated without having to get up again. I like Patrick's method of incorporating the breath into the towel-rolling. Something new to try!

    ReplyDelete
  25. savasanaaddict, the carpet in my apartment is also not the super thick, shaggy type. It's probably not ideal for balance or for wrist stability; so far, thankfully, there have been no adverse effects on my wrists (knock on wood...). But yes, I highly recommend a mysore rug, for this and other reasons :-)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for your information.Here I would like to introduce most trusted websites for office spaces for lease and office space bangalore.

    ReplyDelete