The mat: Yogastra

Whether you’ve been a practicing yogi for decades or are still thinking about doing that free trial class, there’s one thing you’re definitely going to need: a yoga mat. I’m currently on a Goldilocks-esque quest to find just the right one. This as-yet unrealized mat will be not too heavy, but not so light that I feel like I’m practicing on the ground. Also on the wishlist: enough grip to ensure that downward dog’s not slippy, but enough slip to flow between postures.

I have, as yet, to try the Manduka ProLite, which, with its nontoxic PVC cushioning, has been touted as a top pick by multiple online polls, but those high-performance mats aren’t for everyone. At the other end of the spectrum is another point of view, that at the core of yoga is breath, and practicing yoga (and all that deep breathwork) on polyurethane, chemically-treated yoga mats, cannot be a good thing. Enter Yogastra, organic cotton mats that are handwoven by artisans in south India and infused with specifically blended herbs and dyes found in the Agasthya forests to facilitate cleaner, better-for-you breath during practice.

The mats are intended to “cleanse your internal system and calm you down as you do your practice,” and are priced between Rs 4,490–5,490. There are three options, each laced with one ‘internal cleanser’ like neem, pomegranate shells, or triphala, one calming herb like tulsi or vetiver, and one herb like neem, turmeric, or sandalwood that’s just for your skin (always in close contact with the mat throughout your practice). No chemicals (obvs) and the cotton’s organic.

This might not be the mat for you if you have a super-sweaty practice and need the extreme anti-slip that some of the performance mats provide, but Yogastra’s mats do have a little anti-slip action thanks to a natural rubber mesh woven onto the underside of its mats. Great for most hatha and vinyasa yogis, but probably best given wide berth for more vigorous styles and more-sweaty streams (ha) like Bikram.

If Yogastra’s vibe appeals, they also make meditation mats (Rs 2,000), little flax-filled silk eye pillows (2,000) and cotton herb-powered eye masks (Rs 750) for general Zen time, cotton microfibre yoga towels (Rs 2,000), and Goldilocks virgin coconut oil (Rs 500 for 200ml) for your hair.

For more information and to order online, visit the website. They ship worldwide.