Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Lululemon Le Mat

This is a review of Lululemon's yoga mat: Le Mat.  I admit that I tried MANY yoga mats before finally settling on this one.  I tried the cheaper ones from Gaiam, and even the more expensive ones from Manduka and Jade.  After not being happy with all of the above, and many returns and exchanges, I *finally* decided to give this one a try... and I'm SO glad that I did.  It was love at first asana.
Oklahoma City is lucky enough to have a Lululemon showroom downtown in Automobile Alley, so I headed down one afternoon on my lunch hour to give this mat a try.  The super helpful women in the shop said that I would be really happy with it (especially when sweating), and gave it high praise. Of course, they worked there so I wouldn't have expected them to say anything but positive things about it.  I had read so much about it online and knew that black would probably be the best color to get (I had read about stains on the lighter mats).  They were out of black, but they had this beautiful ocean blue mat instead.  How could I say no to it's vibrant, beautiful color?  It instantly reminded me of the ocean and I knew it had to be mine.  I was actually glad they didn't have any black, because I would have certainly went for the black.  The blue is gorgeous and makes me feel like I'm on the beach everytime I practice.
I brought it back to school and did some yoga on the remainder of my lunch hour.  Instantly I knew this mat was THE ONE for me.  With all the other mats I'd tried, I still had slippage issues.  Mostly in downdog, but also in plank and chaturanga.  Not with this mat.  My hands stayed firmly in place as I moved about. I was even able to get deeper into some asanas because I was firmly in place when posturing and had no worries of slipping.
The top is absorbent, so when you practice, if you sweat it will hold that moisture.  I have left some very interesting hand and butt prints on my mat after hot yoga classes.  They just add to the fun.  No worries- they dry out if you unroll your mat when you get home.

The reverse side of the mat is also grippy.  It's lighter and is softer than the top.  The top of the mat (the blue) feels like tennis racquet handles (that's what it's made out of).  The sweatier you get, the more you grip to it.  The bottom is a different material entirely.  I have yet to practice on the reverse side of the mat, but I really need to give it a try.  I wonder if my legs would float easier to warrior on the smoother side. Hmmm...
I read a LOT about how Le Mat is manufactured, and it's one of the most eco-friendly mats out there.  No harsh chemicals used in the manufacturing, and it appears that Lululemon is a pretty eco-friendly company.  If I'm going to be spending an hour+ everyday on my mat, I don't want it to be full of harmful chemicals that I'm breathing in.  It is made of natural rubber, so it's going to smell at first.  I have noticed that it has faded over time, but it still has some odor.  As someone who is very sensitive to smells (and them triggering allergies), it doesn't bother me at all.  In fact, I kinda look forward to the smell of my mat.  It's a comforting smell that lets me feel at home on it.  Weird?  Sure!
Oh, the ladies at the store said that when they need to clean their mat, they take it into the shower with them. They scrub themselves and then let the shower water clean the mat.  Seems easy enough, but I don't do enough hot yoga to need that throrough of a cleaning.  I simply wipe my down with a wet towel.
Here's some specs on the mat:
  • designed for: yoga
  • material(s): polyurethane, rubber, latex
  • thickness: 5mm
  • dimension: 71" long x 26" wide
  • weight: 5.5lbs; 2.5kg

    It's heavy!  And it's thick when rolled up, so it might not fit your regular yoga mat straps or bag.  I made my own bag out of a cloth tote I had in the house.  I just cut the handle off one side, sewed it on the reverse side of the bag, sewed on some velcro and voila- free tote.
    If you've been on the fence.  Give Le Mat a try.  You won't regret it.  At $68, it might seem pricey, but it's WELL worth the money.  It will last for years, is thick and cushiony, easy to clean, antimicrobial, comfy, and still far cheaper than the 2-3 pairs of running shoes I have to buy a year. ;)
    I've been using it daily for about 3 weeks now.  Couldn't be happier with it!
    Oh, and not that you even wondered, but I wasn't paid by Lululemon for this review.  I purchased the mat myself.  I just LOVE it so much, I wanted to share this with the world.  This will be the last yoga mat you'll ever need. 

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    California reality

    "All the leaves are brown...and the sky is gray (and the sky is gra-ay).  Out and for a walk, on a winter's day.  I'd be safe and warm (I'd be safe and warm) if I was in LA (if I was in LA-ay).  California dreaming, on such a winter's day-aayyyyyy."
    It wasn't just a dream.  It was my reality last week.  I was approved to attend a conference in LA last week through work and I was sooo excited to get to the coast.  I haven't been out there in about 20 years and I was SUPER stoked to get me some SoCal time.  Yes, you read that right: super stoked.  Don't judge me and my 80's beach vernacular- I love all things 80's and taking a chill pill on the totally rad beach was just what this Southern California born turtle needed.  I have been craving sunshine and gnarly waves, and my soul was in desperate need of  a little recharge.  So I went.  And here's how the story goes...

    Got off the plane Wednesday in LA around 11.  Took a shuttle to the rental car facility, gave them 40 forms of ID, a blood sample, birth rights to my first child and then headed out.  I immediately got hopelessly lost and turned around.  GPS and maps on the phone weren't working.  No map in the car.  I just started driving around until I thought I was headed in the right direction.  I finally found the highway headed west, and got dumped out at Laguna Beach (well, just north of Laguna Beach).
    Driving on the highway in LA made me want to become an alcoholic.  Holy crap!!!!!  Although, just one day later after I realized I could drive like a complete moron, like I'm in the game "Grand Theft Auto" and get away with it, I came to the conclusion that driving in the OC wasn't so bad....

    Thursday I made plans with a local hiking group to hike 8 miles in the Laguna Wilderness Area (the Laguna Hills).  I wasn't registered for the workshop on Thursday so I wound up having the day off to go explore and play.  The day was very overcast and rainy and a little chilly.  No matter.  I was super excited to do some hiking and go explore The Hills (yes, I shamelessly admit I watched that MTV show for a few seasons).  The group was small and quite nice.  We headed off at a brisk pace and walked down, down, down to the ocean.  Then we turned around and hiked up, up, up back to the top.  Down was fast; up was not as fast.  No matter- it was beautiful and very exciting.

    You can see the ocean in the distance in the pic up above
    Friday I attended the workshop all day.  It was SUPER informative and I learned a lot.  I ran on the treadmill early in the morning, ordered room service breakfast and headed down to the conference.  No pictures because I didn't do anything but sit all day.  I did manage to get in some yoga on the balcony after my morning run. 
    Saturday I signed up for a  half marathon in Santa Monica.  It was to be my 3rd half in 2013 and I was really excited about running along the beach!  However, I woke up with major tummy issues and I wasn't very excited about running.  I drove to Santa Monica about 5:15 in the morning (it was about an hour away) and I arrived in the dark.  I used the bathroom a billion times and then decided that I would just play it by ear and see how my stomach felt.  The field of runners was really small, and I figured I would be last.  No worries, tho.  I'm used to being near the back of every pack. It's my norm.  I am not nicknamed Speedy, after all. We got going and it wasn't long before I knew I would run the whole half.  My stomach settled down and the scenery helped to flush out (pun intended) any thoughts I had of stopping early. 
    The course was 3 loops- under the Santa Monica Pier, past Muscle Beach and out to the spot where the Saved By The Bell kids had their summer jobs.  3 times.  Not too shabby for scenery there.  The sun was bright, the wind was light and the waves were giant and noisy.  PERFECTION!!!  I hovered behind a woman in green for the first 2 loops and then surged ahead on loop #3.  In fact, I passed 2 women on loop #3 so as to not be DFL.  I tell you, it takes me over an hour to warm up and then I can go all the live long day.  I felt great the whole time.  In fact, this is the fastest half that I've had in a LONG time.  I ran 11:38 min/miles.  For me, that's pretty fast.  I was thrilled.  I finished then headed to the water to watch the surfers shredding some mega waves. 
    Then I got back in the car and headed back to the conference to finish out the morning meetings.  It was truly a perfect day.
    Sunday I headed home.  I missed my husband and my dogs, but I sure did hate to leave SoCal. I really wanted to call my hubs and tell him I wasn't coming home.  "It's been a great 17 years, dear, but the ocean won't let me leave...."  Not really, but I sure didn't want to get on that plane.
    All in all it was a very successful conference and a very successful outdoor adventure.  This SoCal born girl sure did miss her roots.  Maybe some day I can go back for longer.... much longer.