Ever get the feeling you don't have enough room on your 2-foot-wide rectangular yoga mat — and that maybe you'd like to stretch your arms and legs more freely out to the side?
The solution could be a circular, 6-foot-wide Mandala yoga mat. They're the inspiration of Desiree Kleemann, who has a yoga studio in Washington state, and they're made in the Rogue Valley by her brother, Joe Kleemann.
They definitely take up more space on a studio floor and cost more money — $69 — but "they're worth it," says Desiree. "Instead of being restricted to a small mat, you have total freedom. You can face in any direction, instead of having just front, back and side. You can twist side-to-side."
Anything you can do on a circular mat, you can also do on a narrow, rectangular mat, but you don't come off the mat or have to spread an extra mat, and you don't have to come in contact with a dirty floor or carpet, she says.
In addition, you're automatically 6 feet from the next person, so there's no worrying about bumping into classmates, she notes. The mats can also be used for dance or movement classes.
To get an idea of what a studio full of circular mats looks like, see the videos on Desiree's Web site, www.mandalayogamat.com. You can also order them there, with $12 for shipping.
Desiree sells the polyurethane mats — all blue — in bulk to yoga studios in North America and Europe. She says the round mats are her own idea and are already being copied by other firms.
Joe Kleemann says the business launched last year and is doing quite well. If it keeps growing, they may open a manufacturing space and consider franchises (he's cutting them with a compass in his garage now.)
"My initial thought was that they would be used at home," says Desiree, but instructors are embracing them because they allow for more creativity and freedom of movement.