GAIAM has been a trusted lifestyle brand specializing in yoga, fitness and wellness products for 28 years. The company is based in the USA and offers an extensive assortment of quality products at reasonable price points.
I was recently sent several products for review:
– On-the-Go Yoga Mat Carrier (Fuchsia Sky)
– Reversible Premium 5mm Yoga Mat (Kiku)
– Deep Tissue Foam Roller (Grey)
I was under no obligation to give a positive review, but was ultimately impressed and happy with the excellent quality and performance of all three items.
On-the-Go Yoga Mat Carrier
This carrier is sleek and stylish — the perfect fusion for anyone who finds a sling too bare but a bag too bulky. Made of 100% cotton, the surface can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth. I like the exterior pocket roomy enough for essentials such as a cell phone, keys and a couple of credit cards.
The stretchy interior strap snuggly hugs mats of all sizes, including the larger one that I was sent. There’s space to tuck a towel but this carrier will not accommodate two mats.
The long straps can be simply hung over the shoulder or worn sling- or cross-body styles. I found it comfortable and convenient for toting my mat around town. $23
Reversible Premium 5mm Yoga Mat
I attend unheated yoga and pilates classes three to four times weekly. This extra thick 5mm mat provides exceptional comfort on the hardwood surfaces at my studio. Some practitioners worry that a thicker mat will be unstable for standing poses but I find the Kiku provides both terrific traction and cushioning support.
Weighing in at only three pounds, it’s lighter than mats of similar thickness. GAIAM uses a latex-free, soft, gummy PVC material that is devoid of the top six harmful phthalates (DEHP, DBP, DNHP, BBP, DIDP, DINP).
This aspect is important to me because I prefer the grip of PVC mats but would rather avoid the toxins. Also, brand new mats, especially printed ones, tend to be malodorous. However, I found the Kiku’s smell not as strong as some other mats I’ve tried (the smell should dissipate after a few uses).
Functionality aside, the mat is reversible! This means there are two stunning and vibrant sides to keep you zen throughout your practice. It’s like getting two mats for the price of one. GAIAM’s website offers four other reversible patterns in their premium lineup, all made with the same long-lasting quality. The first time I brought this mat to class, my fellow yogis exclaimed how they all had “mat-envy”. I think the product sold itself even before this review came out! $40
Deep Tissue Foam Roller
I didn’t know anything about self-myofascial release until after paying megabucks to my physiotherapist. Essentially, this is a fancy term for self-massage using foam rollers to release tightness and encourage muscle recovery. Rollers can be used to break up muscle knots and relieve tension better than stretching alone.
With my history of sports injuries I had long intended to acquire a foam roller. The GAIAM Deep Tissue Roller has an intense wave pattern that stimulates blood flow and deep tissue relief. The extra firm surface takes some acclimation but the included exercise guide will help get you started.
Be forewarned that foam rolling can be painful because you’re massaging deeply into muscles. The ability to control and promote your own healing and recovery is well worth the effort though. The smaller size of this roller (13” x 5”) makes it convenient for travel and allows me to focus on specific pressure points to get the most benefit.
This roller has become my best new recovery pal: I’ve used it on my calves, thighs, ITB, hips, glutes, shoulder blades, feet and upper back – with varying degrees of success. Since every body is different, experiment with your own myofascial release exercises for what works best for you. Several other varieties of foam rollers are available as part of the GAIAM Restore line. $45
All products are available on both GAIAM.com and GAIAM.ca, though the Canadian site is somewhat limited in product variety. You can also find GAIAM goods at online retailers such as Well.ca, Walmart, Amazon, Staples and Sears.
Photos by Rob Plenert.