When we hear or read something about yoga, the next thing that comes to mind is yoga mats. There are many yoga mats in the market, but do we really need them when we practice yoga? Will there be any difference? Let’s find out.
A yoga mat will surely make your yoga practice more straightforward, but it actually is not essential. A mat gives you the ability to press your palms and feet down into a great stretch without worrying about slipping. It gives support and safety for certain positions, can soften the surface, and gives you the necessary grip. On the other hand, not using a yoga mat while practicing can give you great flexibility and help you stick to your regular practice wherever and whenever you are.
Not convinced yet? Let’s talk about this more.
How to Practice Yoga Without Yoga Mats?
Traveling with a yoga mat could be a hassle, but you sure don’t want to miss your yoga practice. Or you keep postponing your chances of learning yoga because, as many common yoga mats come with a heavy price tag, you don’t think you can invest in the right equipment.
Well, you can always opt to practice yoga without using mat in these ways:
Practice your standing poses.
Much of the discomfort you might feel in practice without a yoga mat is caused by touching a cold, dirty, or slippery surface. So, instead of using the unpleasant floor or surface as an excuse not to practice yoga, you can try to stick to asanas on your feet. By doing so, you’ll be able to still practice yoga even in a short period of time.
Avoid rigorous practice.
Developing an ability to change your usual yoga routine according to situations and the immediate environment is very beneficial. So, if your practice needs to be changed and you can’t do those asanas that you normally do, just let it be. As we said above, you can only do some simple poses first that can be done without a yoga mat.
Wear protective gears.
Due to the body’s interaction with unpleasant surfaces, the greatest difficulties of practice without a mat comes. To a certain degree, wearing long leggings and a sleeved top will shield your elbows and knees from hitting the rough and cold ground.
You can also use yoga gloves and socks (especially while traveling because they are much simpler to pack). They are rubberized gloves or socks that give you traction, so you don’t slip and fall flat on your face.
Practice on a good surface.
The type of surface on which you practice matters. You can practice on smooth wooden surfaces and grass. You’re certainly not going to find it slippery, and you’re definitely going to love the touch of natural materials.
There are many other ways to practice yoga without a mat, but you might be wondering, are there any perks with not using yoga?
Perks of Not Using Yoga Mat
Yogis in the past didn’t have yoga mats to practice on. Yet, they practiced yoga and perfected it. But are there any great perks you can get if you do not use a yoga mat in your practice? Well, you might be surprised by the answer.
Yes, there are definitely some perks you can get from not using yoga mats, and we listed 2 of them for you.
Better slide and glide movement.
If you do not practice using yoga mats but instead used a wool rug, you can eventually do some lush glide and slide. By using a rag as a placement to your mat, you will surely be able to glide your foot from the front to the back gently.
Instead of picking up and firmly planting your foot in a lunge or a step-through, you can also effortlessly shift into a lunge or standing position and then reverse the motion as you return to a forward bend or mountain pose.
Your muscle will be stronger.
You will notice how the core works much harder when you are not on a mat when you try transitioning between Downward Facing Dog Pose to Upward-Facing Dog position. You will be amazed how your muscles work harder and become stronger as you opt to practice matless.
These are just two out of other perks you can get when you do yoga without a mat.
Yoga Mat Alternatives
Now, this is the big question, what yoga mat alternative can we use if the mat is not available?
Here are some yoga mat alternative suggestions that ensure your palm, feet, joints’ safety and offer you a good grip.
Roll-Up Yoga Towel
The yoga towel is one of the easiest and most comfortable options for a yoga mat. It is effortless to roll up, carry, and give sufficient cushion, especially when the floor is hard. It’s made of a material that absorbs moisture-wicking water and sweat, so they remain sticky even when you’re sweating in a hot class.
Blankets work the same as yoga towels and quite thicker than a towel. Offer great cushion and support to your joints on hard floors using a blanket as an alternative to yoga mats. It is also simple to use, fold, and take anywhere you want (very convenient when traveling).
But the thing is, you must avoid slippery comforters or fabrics as it increases the risk of injury, especially on polished floors.
Outdoor yoga session encourages you to reconnect with nature, mind, and body. The grassy lawn will give you soft-landing during sun salutations and earthy massage on your bare feet. Just make sure it is not wet so it won’t be slippery.
Carpet has a sufficient cushioning effect, you just need to adapt the style of the rug or carpet to the type of yoga you do.
During the winter season, you definitely don’t want to go out, but you may not want to stop practicing yoga as well, so the carpet is one of the best alternatives to a yoga mat. It also offers great heat control, perfect for cold weather.
The Bottom Line
You can definitely practice yoga without a mat, although it is also ideal to have one for yourself. It is true; a yoga mat allows you to practice tough, complex poses without fear of slipping. It helps to hold the pose for longer periods of time. If you sweat a lot, then the yoga mat works well with sweat and gives you the right grip. If you have a delicate knee, then the yoga mat offers enough cushion to support your joints. But you can still do yoga and become good at it without yoga mats.
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