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Julie: need a yoga mat

Posted by elliott on 3/02/04 at 08:18 (145774)


I want a yoga mat that won't let my hands slide in poses like down dog. All the ads say things like 'non-slip' or 'great traction' but not all mats live up to the claim. I recently mail ordered a mat from one of the premier yoga supplies places, and while a bit thicker and clearly more durable than the mass-produced mats from the discount store, it doesn't really offer that much better a grip. I'm not talkng about when dripping wet with sweat. I mean even when I first do the pose, and certainly after just a few back and forth poses (e.g., transitioning a few times between down dog and up dog to loosen up my back, when the hands seem to becomea drop perspired just from holding the poses).

Can you recommend a quality mat that places grip at a premium? Thanks.


Re: Julie: need a yoga mat

Julie on 3/02/04 at 08:39 (145776)


I've used a Hugger Mugger mat for several years, and am satisfied with its grip: my hands and feet stay where they're put. But my hands and feet don't sweat except during serious heat waves, so I'm not sure how the mat would perform if they did. What sort of mat are you using? If it's not a Hugger Mugger, I think Hugger Mugger would be worth trying. They're an American firm, so you'd have no problem with availability. There are several other makes available here, but all from UK based firms which would be no use to you.

Grip is vital if you're doing poses like the Wheel. Have you tried putting a bit of talcum powder on your hands and feet before you start practising? That can help.

If you've tried Hugger Mugger and aren't happy, you could contact the Ashtanga Vinyasa people, who sweat buckets, to see what mats they use.

Re: PS

Julie on 3/02/04 at 08:41 (145777)

...or the Bikram people, who practise in temperaturs of 100f, and sweat even more buckets.

Re: that's what I was afraid of :-)

elliott on 3/02/04 at 11:42 (145799)

Yes, it was from Hugger Mugger. I can't say it's inferior to anything else out there as I haven't found anything better yet. I previously ordered a cylindrical bolster from them for my back which is outstanding (that reminds me: where did Nancy go?)--far firmer than the one from another company I returned. As I'm sure you know, HM's catalogs also are worth keeping just for the beautiful and impressive pictured poses of their own employees.

I doubt the Bikram people are too concerned with grip. I'm more into pure Iyengar: I want to hold a pose for a long time and slowly progress to get deeper into it, and if I slip I can get hurt. I don't have too much trouble when doing the wheel, as for that the pressures seem more up and down. Don't want to do that every day anyway due to shoulder issues. Down dog is the absolute worst, since the weight pressures trying to slide the hands forward are high.

Talcum powder, huh? Maybe I'll give it a try. Thanks.

Re: that's what I was afraid of :-)

Dorothy on 3/02/04 at 15:41 (145815)

Don't know if it would be any better than what you have already tried, but have you tried Gaiam? Online at http://www.gaiam.com . They sell lots of yoga supplies. I receive both Gaiam and HuggerMugger materials and they look quite similar in their catalogs, but maybe not. I don't use a mat.
Might be a caution about the talcum powder - there are some concerns about inhaling it (adults and children) or even for getting it on sensitive areas of the body. For babies, a good alternative is cornstarch but I don't know how it would work on a mat w/perspiration. Probably ok, but not sure. It is considered totally safe though, whereas talcum powder is not. Another alternative is baking soda for some purposes but again don't know on a mat or on bare feet - could be a little abrasive.
Anyway, I may have shed more shade than light but just trying to share some info.

Re: that's what I was afraid of :-)

elliott on 3/02/04 at 15:56 (145816)

Dorothy, even without the warnings, I'm admittedly not thrilled about getting any powder all over my mat or even with having to apply the powder on my hands. There just has to be a mat that works for what I'm asking, since what I'm asking for is reasonable. I can't imagine Gaiam is superior to Hugger Mugger, as the latter is yoga-specific and for serious practitioners. Check this one out, though:


Extra-everything! Look at the price. Can it possibly be worth it?


Re: that's what I was afraid of :-)

Julie on 3/02/04 at 16:31 (145824)


That's what I was afraid of too. Hugger Mugger mats are state-of-the-art, so I thought you'd probably already have one. I don't know of anything better (which doesn't mean there isn't anything better). HM mats are used by many of the Ashtanga groups in the UK, so are probably as slip-proof as they come.

The Bheka mat IS very expensive, but might be worth a try: it must offer something extra for the extra money. You could ask if they'd let you have one on spec, or if there is a showroom where you could try it out before investing. The thing to look for would be a surface slightly less smooth than the Hugger Mugger. The Gaiam mat looks rather shiny in the picture, so is probably less grippy.

I'm assuming you've asked your teacher for a lead?

I suggested you ask the Bikram people because the quantities of liquid that pour off them would cause slippage, however quickly or otherwise they move, and their teachers might have useful leads for you.

In downward facing dog have you tried pressing the floor away so that the weight is directed upwards through the arms and the spine rather than downwards? You may find that helps alleviate the slipping tendency.

If all else fails, talcum powder wipes off easily. :)

Thanks for asking after Nancy. I'm sorry to say that she is really incapacitated: in extreme pain all the time from her hip and lower back, getting worse daily. She is now unable even to stand at her computer: sitting has been impossible for weeks. I don't think she will be posting here for awhile. But she greatly appreciated your information, and I've promised to pass on anything else you post (or that anyone posts) that might be of help or of interest.

Re: that's what I was afraid of :-)

Dorothy on 3/02/04 at 16:34 (145825)

Here's one to check out - http://www.matsmatsmats.com

I'm off the case! Good luck...

Re: Nancy

wendyn on 3/02/04 at 20:34 (145853)

That's too bad Julie. I sent her an email several days ago, she replied to the first one (I had a few old email addresses from her so I was trying to find the right one) but I haven't a response back from a note I sent her afterwards.

I may be going to Boston in May (not confirmed yet) and I was trying to remember where Nancy lives. I think it's very close to Boston.

Do you know?

Judy - do you know?

Julie - what are they going to do about Nancy's back?

Re: Nancy

Julie on 3/03/04 at 01:55 (145895)


Nancy lives not too far from Portland, Maine. Boston would be the nearest big city.

Surgery was suggested almost immediaely, but she was hoping to avoid it if at all possible. The trouble is, it is getting worse, not better, and she may be feeling she is getting close to that 'last resort'. She has an appointment with a neurosurgeon on 15 March.

She isn't going near her computer much right now, so I will tell her that you're all thinking of her.

Re: that's what I was afraid of :-)

elliott on 3/04/04 at 09:06 (145994)


I doubt they'd do me favors on such an expensive mat if it's backordered due to popularity. As I learned with the other mat (now owned by my wife, who is just starting), it doesn't really pay to return the less costly mats when you consider round-trip (or, as you would say, return) shipping.

My teacher wouldn't know.

What I was trying to say about Bikram is that I don't think any mat would provide a solid grip for what they do (sweating and showing off a lot of bod).

Sure, if I did Down Dog better, maybe I wouldn't slip as much. :-)

If Nancy can't stand or sit at the computer, can she kneel on one leg? That's what I do a lot. It gets the back into a good position. My story's still continuing: my doc's office called to say he'll be out with the flu for a month(!), naturally just when my back got a lot worse. The last few days were terrible, but it's also true that, just when my faith in yoga at least as a means to cope was getting shaken, I've never gotten so much direct relief as I have recently from various backbends. Today is not so bad.

Please keep us informed as to Nancy's situation.


Re: End of search, then?

Julie on 3/04/04 at 10:00 (145998)


I guess you may have to abandon your search for a less slippy mat! Try the powder.

The pose you're having slippy trouble with (which in the Satyananda tradition is called Parvatasana, the Mountain Pose - a nicer name than Dog, I think) has been one of my favourite postures for over 30 years. It's a posture that I learn something new about almost every time I do it, and I do it often. It's possible to practise it without the hands slipping, whatever surface you're working on I have a woven silk rug that I bought in India, very shiny, and if I'm too lazy to get my Hugger Mugger mat out I will practise on that, and I don't slip (though the pose isn't nearly as stable on that surface). The key is in the upward stretch, which gives a light and liberating feeling of 'uplift' that (eventually) replaces the sense that all one's weight is going down into one's hands and wrists.

I've had a look at Donna Farhi's instructions for the pose and will quote some of them for you. I hope they're helpful. They come from 'Yoga: Mind, Body and Spirit', an excellent book in case you're not familiar with it.

'This is an asana that no yoga student ever outgrows. It's the garlic of yoga - a panacea for whatever ails you, which combines the benefits of an inversion, arm balance, forward bend and restorative pose all rolled into one.

'Begin by coming onto all fours with your hands resting slightly in front of your shoulders on the floor. Spread your fingers wide apart to distribute the weight evenly across your hands.

'...Press away from the floor and lift the knees, reaching back with your sitting bones and tail. Your arms and torso will be in one long line from your hands through to your tail. With each outgoing breath yield the weight of your arms to the ground as you simultaneously lift your pelvis up and back off your spine.

'As you deepen in the posture rotate the shoulders outward. This releases the neck and upper thoracic spine and slows the force coming up through the arms to be communicated to the torso. If you rotate your shoulders inward, this restricts the neck and upper thoracic spine and prevents the flow of force from your arms through to your shoulder blades.'

The outward rotation of the shoulders is quite important, because as Donna says, it is what enables the force to flow through the arms to the torso, and hence releases the weight and the energy upwards rather than downwards.

I would add that it's helpful not to try to get your heels to reach the floor if they don't go there without effort. Tight hamstrings and calf muscles make this aspect of the pose a challenge for most people, but the best result is obtained by just relaxing the backs of the legs so that the heels sink towards the floor. Eventually, once all the muscles involved are at optimum length, they will 'go there', but the effort to force them down tends to distract the attention from the upward stretch through the arms, shoulders and back.

I've passed your comments on to Nancy. I would guess that she can't kneel on one leg, because she would need more strength in her legs to get herself back up again, and she has said that she cannot get onto the floor because she can't get back up again.

I've passed on all the messages from you all, and will keep everyone posted about her.

Re: End of search, then?

Dorothy on 3/04/04 at 13:21 (146014)

To Nancy via Julie, please: I have had periods that included, among many other 'Horribles', the fear of getting down on the floor (or other positions) and not being able to get back up again; in fact, that has happened - although obviously I did get back up because I'm not still there! So, to the extent that it is possible, I understand what you're going through and know how really, truly awful it is. For what it's worth, here are a couple of things that did help with getting up off the floor (getting down to the floor is a different kind of challenge) - I would make sure there was a chair, table, something very stable, nearby that I could either reach or scoot to (scooting and everything else would sometimes take ages, but since these things were my focus, that's what I dedicated myself to; I remember one long-hoped for day when I finally could put my own socks on, done while on the floor, on my back, but done!! finally!). I also got myself a walking stick that is a sturdy, thick wooden walking stick (not the thin, dapper looking kind - sturdy!) with a widened head that forms a knob, giving it good grip. Later I also bought an exercise pole that is longer and aluminum. I would use the stick or pole to get down to the floor but its main function was to help with getting up. I would lay the walking stick (or pole) next to me on the floor and do the movements that I was trying to do (I rely on 'Say Goodbye to Back Pain' video and recently loaned it to a back sufferer who had multiple herniated discs, a horrific post-surgery situation and tremendous pain - and he also has found it to be of tremendous help). I never let the stick get out of reach - when I was ready to get up (dread and fear), I would roll onto my side and take the stick in hand and ever so gradually and slowly continue to roll/move into a position that would allow me to use the stick for support and ever so slowly use the stick and my hands to 'climb' up the stick or pole, then push up on it and finally, to stand, still using the stick or pole for support. I would also use the chair/table for support as needed. I feel for you, Nancy. It is awful what you're going through. It will get better. Keep believing and keep trying. It is probably the hardest work you'll ever do; I thought it was.

To Julie: I wasn't planning to post here anymore but then I read about Nancy and felt so strongly for her situation that I did post. Now I'm going to stop being a poster here. Before leaving (yes, Pauline, I really am going to this time - not an unfulfilled 'threat'), I wanted to give you praise for your faithful, dedicated participation and your clear, straightforward comments. I think your presence here is the sane constant and the honest, helping voice. The agendas of some others are a puzzle to me and the manner of interaction of some - whether obscene or malicious or manipulative or simply disingenuous and pseudo-naive - is depressing to me (I worry about the state of humanity)and I don't need that. There are some egos here and need for attention and self-importance that are just too difficult to ignore with a smile and silence. I don't think, for example, that other website was ever intended just to be 'an alternative'. People are making HUGE sums of money selling domain names; I'm guessing that 'heelspurs' would be worth a lot. The other name will have to grow and be more important or recognizable or something...But in the midst of all this, hurting people are getting jerked around or ignored or confused or annoyed. So, since I can't contribute anything meaningful because I am angry and disgusted and don't want to 'be quiet' anymore, I will remove myself. Being non-judgmental is not my strong suit. Thank you for your help, Julie; you have helped in ways you don't even know. I am very eager to get your new book so I will be looking for it. If I had been willing to give the name I write under, which - as personalities and behaviors unfolded here, I was not - I could have referred you to my work. Poetry and fiction. Best wishes to you ~

Re: for Dorothy...

Suzanne D. on 3/04/04 at 14:58 (146019)

Dorothy, I hope you look back one last time and find this post to you.

Yes, you are right: it IS difficult to always 'ignore with a smile and silence'. Generally, that has been my way of dealing with the unpleasantness (to put it mildly) on these boards. I have tried to encourage and support, and I truly care about many people who visit here.

I have received so much good information and also support and affirmation which has been personally fulfilling to me. I guess those are the reasons why I have stayed through thick and thin, as well as the desire to help and support others. That's me; I'm not a real complicated person. I like to give to others and have appreciated what has been done for me as well.

I don't know how long I can continue feeling useful or welcome here. Sometimes I just have to step back for awhile and think things over. But I felt I had to write to you one last time. Here is my e-mail address (without the spaces) sdennis @ hardin.k12.ky.us. I know you have expressed the desire not to e-mail off the boards. But if you might trust enough to e-mail me, I would like to stay in touch. If not, I understand and respect that.

Suzanne :)

Re: End of search, then?

Pauline on 3/04/04 at 15:51 (146030)

I don't know if you'll even see this post, but I hope you do and will reconsider and return to post again.

It is my belief that each poster here has something positive to contribute to this site, especially those of us who have had P.F. and can share our first hand experience.

It's my opinion and has always been my opinion that personal advertising whether it be offering treatment, medication, or an alternative website has been and always will be determental to any harmony because it immediately changes the dynamics by providing bias.

This is especially true when the possibility of monentary gain becomes part of this equation.

It's my belief that all the discussions and arguements relating to ESWT would have been avoided if advertisement had not been part of the picture.

The reason I say this, is strictly because of the baggage that always attaches itself to an ad . It's the inclusions and exclusions that are played to persuade. It's all the hype in print that causes a product or service to sell and without a doubt we all know by it's very nature it does contain a certain about of bias. This is the nature of all advertising.

I'd like to see this board returned to it's original purpose, a simple exchange between posters who seek help and those that can offer it. I'd like to see all doctors who choose to visit offering more general type of information to posters, and do no advertising or self promotion of any type.

I'd also like to see them move their own personal discussions or differences on medicine or treatment to a professional forum, such as their own medical society meetings to discuss their differences of opinion or deal with them through private email. I think this would go a long way to eliminate anyone staking a territorial claim on this site and we would not see the Dr. Kipper type of exchange taking place between doctors anymore.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly I'd like all posters to know that we appreciate all the positive exchanges that take place on this site and not one of us is any better or more important than other. I think when that common denominator is fully realized this board move forward to it's full potential.

Re: Dorothy

Julie on 3/04/04 at 16:37 (146033)


I will certainly send your post to Nancy. It contains ideas I know she will find helpful and I know she will be grateful.

And I am grateful for the kindness of your words. Thank you. I am also very sorry that you are leaving, but I, maybe more than most, understand only too well. I have 'been there' more than once, but apart from that I have always felt that we have a great deal in common.

My email address is juliefried @ clara. co. uk (without spaces) and I would be very glad to keep in contact with you - though, like Suzanne, I will quite understand and respect your wishes if I don't hear from you.

I would also like to read your books!

All good wishes,


Re: Dorothy

MARK on 3/04/04 at 16:49 (146036)

junior high antics
hurtful semantics
dont let the door hit ya
where the good lord split ya