I was lucky enough to have been invited to the exclusive Press Launch of Cuca Eco-Care Mats here in Manila. It was held last October 29 at Fitness First, SM Aura. There, I got to know not just the brand of yoga mats but also the very inspiring woman behind it.
THE LADY BOSS
Priscilla Aliwarga used to have a day job at an insurance company in Indonesia until she decided to change things and pursue her love for yoga. She signed up for a yoga teacher training program and began teaching full-time. That’s when she realized the need for yoga mats that don’t cost an arm and a leg but won’t cause you to break your arm or your leg either. Cuca, then came to life.
I heard the story directly from Priscilla herself as we all waited for the event to officially start. A charming young woman who wasn’t afraid to go out and meet new people, I was very surprised she spent years as an actuary. It was the personal conversation I had with her that actually sparked my interest and left me feeling so inspired. She now travels around Asia and Australia with her family expanding the business and telling more and more people about the lifestyle she wishes to share with others.
BLESSINGS FROM AN INCAN GODDESS
The name Cuca comes from Kuka, the Incan Goddess of happiness and well-being. And with the happiness and well-being of yoga practitioners in mind, Priscilla set out to construct her ideal yoga mat.
Here are the specifications of the Cuca Yoga Mat in comparison with the Manduka Pro and the local Go Steady Yoga Mat (the mats I currently own that are close to Cuca).
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT
- The double layer of TPE makes the mat dual sided and reversible. I love how I’m able to switch between the two colors, Magenta and Violet.
- No slippery film on the mat. Great traction and grip even on my first use.
- The fact that it’s softer than most premium mats makes it great for Savasana and other restorative poses. Also perfect for practicing Yin.
- THEY DECOMPOSE NATURALLY. This, for me, is a HUGE plus. I don’t need my mat to last me a lifetime, but I’d sure want my planet to.
WHAT I PROBABLY HAVE TO GET USED TO
- The mat is just as thick as my Manduka Pro but feels a bit porous and much softer. Although not to the point that it hurts the wrists during arm balancing poses.
- The texture. Getting your feet (and hands) on the Cuca feels extremely different from getting them on any Manduka model or any other mat I’ve used before. This is probably a good thing but, again, it needs some getting used to.
- The weight! I am used to lugging my 7-lb mat to teacher trainings. My Manduka Eko Lite weighs just around 4 pounds and is probably just 1/3 the thickness of the Manduka Pro and the Cuca. When it comes to the heavy-duty yoga mats, I’ve developed the mindset “thick mats are heavy mats are good mats”. One of the biggest brands of sports apparel came out with their own yoga mats and my experience with them could not be any worse. They were thick but barely did the job so I would need to spend more time with the Cuca to change the way I see thick but lightweight mats.
I have yet to take the Cuca to a hotbox where things could get really messy. But a friend who has used the mat for quite some time says that the mat can keep you from slipping without a towel for about an hour of regular yang yoga.
I still can’t get over the fact that the texture of the mat can help keep you from slipping even on your first use and that it provides great cushion for those who have sensitive knees (most especially in low lunges). My experience with it so far has been good and I am really liking the grip. I’d have to wait a while to judge the mat’s durability. I honestly have no idea how the difference in material is going to affect the mat’s lifespan.
Price point is somewhere between Php2,500-Php3,000. Not as expensive as the more popular brands but not inexpensive either. Among my three “heavy duty” mats, this one is middle-priced.
I’d say it all comes down to your personal preference and how much you are willing to invest. Yoga, for me, is a life-changing journey and your mat is the vehicle that’ll take you to all the wonderful places in your practice. So choose well. 😉
Cuca Yoga Mats will be available at Royal Sporting House outlets and Equanimity Manila.