WELL + GOOD: ARE HYBRID YOGA MATS WORTH THE HYPE?

GOOD SWEATby MERCEY LIVINGSTON, DECEMBER 5, 2017

Anyone who’s taken a hot yoga class knows there’s a special set of challenges that comes with committing to the practice. Besides figuring out how to remain adequately hydrated while sweating more than you ever thought was humanly possible, there’s another crucial factor that comes into play—choosing your equipment (e.g. mat, mat and towel, extra towel, etc.). With so many options out there, it can be downright overwhelming. Enter: the new hybrid yoga mat, a supposedly all-in-one solution that takes the guesswork out of it and offers a grippy place from which to flow.

Recently, I had the chance to try one of the new Yellow Willow Yoga models, which was “developed so you don’t slip when you sweat or get distracted by a towel moving around on your yoga mat,” says Jess Incledon, the company’s founder. They were designed with both function (and style) in mind: Besides coming in super-chic colors and prints, the mat feels like a fuzzier version of a standard one, adding some hygge vibes to your hot yoga class.

Before I get into how the mat held up during a sweat sesh, I need to pause for a moment of real talk: Prior to this assignment, I’d never taken a hot yoga class. (Yes, that’s right.) Any time I’d ever considered turning up the heat on my practice in the past, the germ freak in me started to panic: How sanitary were these places, exactly? How many people sweat in them per day? Do they really sanitize these mats and towels?

So, to have a baseline for comparison, I left the hybrid at home and opted to use a rental and towel the first time I headed to one of New York City’s buzziest studios, Y7, for a hot, hip hop-driven vinyasa flow. Once inside, my anxiety about cleanliness began to melt away as both my body and my mind warmed up to the idea of hot yoga. The class started out slow and straight-forward enough. My skin was just starting to glisten but nothing crazy.

But by the second flow, I was reaching for my face towel every chance I had—I started to worry my contacts would fall out from all the rubbing—and the towel under my feet was shifting so much as I moved through my sequences that I had to keep pausing in order to smooth it out and make sure it kept my mat covered. After class, drenched, yet relaxed, I gladly handed over my rental.

The hybrid mat may be a good option if you want to have one less thing to remember to put in your gym bag.

For my second hot yoga class, I headed back to Y7, and I was glad to have my own mat (and towel!) this time. As I began to really get drenched, it felt good not to have to worry about a towel slipping underneath me. Plus, it had good grip so I could hold the poses better. And it did the same job as the towel-mat combo I used in the first class. I was sweating just as much and the mat performed as promised.

So, what’s the verdict? The hybrid mat may be a good option if you want to have one less thing to remember to put in your gym bag, if you’re usually annoyed by a towel sliding around underneath you, or you simply want to cut down on your laundry pile. And even if you’re not a serious hot-yoga goer, you can totally use it for regular yoga (read: normal temperature) sessions, too. Oh, and the designs, like millennial pink marble, blue palm fronds, and purple tiger stripes, are way cuter than the ones I’m used to staring at during downward-facing dog.