Monday, August 12, 2013

Yoga Toys: Gaiam Audio Yoga Mat

Yes, even yogis enjoying playing with toys now and then. When I was browsing the sale section of the Gaiam website, I saw this interesting mat described as an "audio" yoga mat. Well, isn't that interesting, I thought. (Back when I was in high school and aspiring to be a writer or musician or whatever, I had always thought that books should come with a soundtrack that you could play while you were reading it. So I've always been conscious of the "soundtrack" for my life.)

The Gaiam audio yoga mat has a speaker built in to one corner with a little cord for hooking it up to your iPod or iPhone or MP3 player so that you can take your tunes anywhere you take your yoga. Sounds like a great idea, right?

Anyway, I tried to buy one from the Gaiam website (at $14.99, it seemed like a good deal for what might be a fun toy), but it turned out that there were no more available. Bummer. Still intrigued with the idea of an audio yoga mat, I checked over on Amazon and found one for around $12. Okay, now we were talking.

Overall, I think this is a fun mat to have in your collection, but be aware of the following pros and cons:

1. The speaker. Yep, this is a yoga mat that you can use to listen to your iPod, iPhone, or MP3 player anywhere, anytime. The speaker doesn't require batteries, so you just have to make sure your music player is all charged up and ready to go. The speaker quality isn't superb, but for the price, I'll take it.

2. The thickness. Now, this could be a pro or a con. The mat is made from your typical sticky-mat material, but a little thinner than my first 4mm thick mat. It's about the same thickness as my beloved Jade Harmony mat, but I slip around a little more on this one.

That said, this mat folds up very easily to tuck into a suitcase for travel. But I'd be careful about that speaker - you know how luggage gets thrown around during air travel, and I don't know how the speaker would hold up.

3. The price. I believe that this item is no longer available directing from Gaiam, but if you check on Amazon (or maybe eBay?), you'll find several options, ranging from about $12 - $23, + shipping. For around $20, it's not a bad deal for this fun yoga toy.

1. The speaker. If you were expecting Bose-quality sound from a yoga mat/speaker combination for less than $20, yeah, you're gonna be disappointed. On the other hand, I tossed this mat out on my back porch, in the living room, and out in the backyard under the box elder tree, and with a little adjustment of volume on my iPhone, I could hear my music perfectly while I practiced. Not bad!

2. The thickness. Again, this is a thinner mat than the usual sticky mat, and it only comes in one color - green with a koi fish design. However, I did chuck it on top of my Jade mat, and it made a nice, spongy surface for practicing. But...

3. The length. I like my yoga mats long. I know, I'm only 5' 3", so I shouldn't take up that much space, but I like my nice, 74" long yoga mats so that I can scootch back into Downward Dog or whatever without feeling like I'm gonna fall off the back edge. I like to be able to dance around, forward and back, during my Sun Salutations, but with this is a more typical 68" yoga mat. So, if you like 'em long, you might feel a little limited using this mat during practice.

The Last Word
If you love practicing yoga to music or even to an audio guide, this is a great mat to have handy. I can see myself using it in hotel rooms when there's no music available, or out in the backyard, or anywhere that there isn't a handy place to plug in my iPod. The Gaiam audio yoga mat is a fun way to motivate yourself to practice, and if it gets you on the mat, it can't be all bad.

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