January 30th, 2023
Yoga Lab Mat Program Update
Announcements > Community
To the Yoga Lab Community,
Hope you’ve all had a great holiday season, and now we get to the hard work of carrying out those New Year’s resolutions.
There’s been some confusion about the mat program, so let’s clear things up.
We began the mat program on August 1, 2021 as a way to fix a problem that lots of yogis experience: mat regret.
Mat regret is when you decide to spend a considerable amount of money on a yoga mat (oftentimes well north of $100), and then after using it a few times you start questioning your purchase.
The problem has been and continues to be that there is no way to test drive a yoga mat for a few classes. And the other problem that occurs if you do have access to a different mat from a friend is that at most, you can compare two mats. But what about all the others?
You’ll read a lot of reviews that say, “This is the best yoga mat,” and after trying pretty much every mat on the market, I can honestly say that the best mat for you is an individualized choice. If you’re someone who takes long stances in standing poses, then you’ll need a different sort of mat than someone who takes much shorter stances. If you’re someone who has some level of pain in the joints of your lower body, you’ll need a thicker mat than someone who doesn’t. And then there’s the way the mat feels to your specific feet. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has told me, “My mat is amazing,” and then they’ve let me try it and I think, “This is awful.” It’s not even that the mat is generally awful; it’s just awful for me.
But the other part of mat regret is one that doesn’t get talked about: long-term mat regret. Huh?
Long-term mat regret is when you buy a mat, unfurl it with all the excitement of opening presents on Christmas Day, try it for your next several yoga classes and smile in bliss. You may even smile after having it for a few months. But then after about your 70th class you either lose that happiness or worse you start to hate your mat. The reason is because certain mats change once they’re fully broken in.
So, how did the Yoga Lab’s mat program come to be?
We decided to make a major investment of more than $2500 to buy all the top yoga mats on the market. And as anyone who has trained at the Lab knows, we covered the gamut from Manduka to Jade to Lululemon to Kulae. We bought them at their retail price because we didn’t want to feel obligated to push any mat onto our community. In other words, we wanted you to arrive at your own conclusions without introducing any bias.
The initial goal was to run the program for about 3-4 months, but then something interesting happened. Some of the most expensive mats changed substantially over that time. So, we extended the program because we like to experiment, and a key goal of any good experiment is to consider whatever results pop up.
The point is that instead of the program lasting 3-4 months, it has now lasted 1.5 years.
And during that time, our members have not only had daily access to the best mats on the market but also the ability to see how they feel after they’ve been completely broken-in.
We’ve recorded your observations and the results are definitely interesting. Not only did some of the most popular mats in the very beginning become the most hated mats later, but also vice versa. The point is that breaking in a mat is different than a mat breaking down. Some mats have degraded, and others have been like the proverbial fine wine that gets better with age. It’s all about making informed decisions.
So, for the past 1.5 years, our members have had the luxury not just of trying all these top-tier yoga mats in their final forms but also of not having to bring a mat to class. And all of it has been for free. We have never asked for a cent from anyone to try these mats, nor will we.
There are some important reasons why we are winding down our mat program.
First and foremost, it was never intended to be a permanent part of the Lab’s operating procedures. From the perspective of a student, who wouldn’t want to go to a yoga studio where you don’t have to bring a yoga mat because they have a top-end mat all laid out for you the moment you walk into the studio? And for the taller students, we spared no expense and paid the extra cost to not just get regular-sized yoga mats but also the extra long versions. These are things that no other yoga studio does because it’s a lot of extra work and expense.
The second reason for ending the program is because to put the mats out is an expenditure of time and to store 30+ mats is unwieldy.
So, here are the main points you need to know about where we go from here:
- Anyone who wants to buy a mat through us must place their order by February 5, 2023.
- If you do not wish to buy a mat, that’s fine. Just let Shira know. There is zero pressure on our members to buy a mat because we are not going to make a profit from this mat program. Creating optimal performance conditions and not profit have been the driving motive for this program.
- Once all purchased mats have been distributed, we will announce the final day of the mat program, and then from that point all students will have to bring their own mats to class. There is one exception to this rule which we will announce later.
- When we do end the mat program, one thing that won’t change is the cleaning. We will still provide each student with their own clean towel and disinfectant for cleaning their mats each class.
One final note is about gratitude.
During the past 1.5 years, Shira and Jonah have laid out your mats, made sure that people were placed in spots which they liked, and did all the additional maintenance work for the mats that our members don’t see. During that time, they’ve never complained about it. So, we should all be grateful to them.
It’s important to remind people that you have gained from this program. You’ve learned how different various yoga mats can feel. You’ve also learned that you can’t simply go by the cost of a yoga mat as the primary indicator for buying a mat. One of the most popular mats is also one of the least expensive mats we bought.
Some people have complained that they don’t understand why we just can’t keep the mat program going. I understand how people become habituated to perks. And for those of you who don’t want to carry a mat around, we will offer a solution on that front.
In the future, the Lab will continue to experiment with all sorts of things that might enhance your yoga practice and experience at the Lab. We are committed to our community.