Have you ever been slapped by your yoga mat before? You may have slipped when you changed from a high forward fold to a standing lunge, and the carpet clumped up. You may have a rug that smells bad from a hot class you attended, affecting your ability to breathe in a Child pose. One small group of passionate yogis has the perfect solution. They say, “No more!” and throw away their yoga mats.
Can you practice yoga without a mat or a towel
You can use one. But you need to know the pros and cons of using it. You will need to consider the type and style of yoga you do and what is best for your comfort, hygiene, and eco-friendliness.
Dana Flynn is the director of Laughing Lotus in New York and San Francisco. In her studios, many yoga teachers encourage students to practice yoga without mats, especially if the floor is wood. There’s more. There’s a feeling among some yoga practitioners that mats are seen as status symbols and a way to mark your territory. It is also considered unclean and evil for the planet.
Who could argue with this? The majority of mats contain synthetic material. While more “green” carpets become available, the costs of production and shipping have an impact on the environment. Studio mats that others have used can be a bit germy. However, any reputable studio will tell you the mats are thoroughly cleaned between classes.
Yoga mats are not necessary for practice
Have you ever gotten on the mat without one? It’s strange. What if the floor is dirty and you need a mat? Yuck.
Being on your mat, in your personal space, is very comfortable. It is adorable when space is limited, and attendance is high. It’s a boundary your neighbor can cross, but only by invitation or accident if there isn’t enough space. There is a little bit of a “territory” feeling, but that’s not necessarily bad. If you’re like me, sometimes a little mat cushion can be very helpful, especially when doing certain yoga poses, such as the Downward Dog, or trying to achieve a forearm balance.
The “idea” that you can practice without a yoga mat is appealing, mainly when Alex Schatzberg, the owner of Yoga Vida in Greenwich Village, explains it. “Practicing without a yoga mat is idealistic because practice requires nothing but your body.”
You can practice your own medicine at home on a clean floor.
It’s easier to throw the mat away or trade it for a large blanket when I teach outdoor yoga classes and at parks. A synthetic carpet that is sticky will not fit the outdoor yoga experience. The mat will bunch up if you have uneven ground.
No mat benefits
You do not have to confine yourself to a rectangular area
Yoga mats: Save money
You will feel more connected to nature if you practice on grass, sand, or other natural surfaces.
Storage space can be freed up
No mat downsides
You may need to change your practice on a hard or slippery surface.
Increases the risk of injury or pain
Germ protection is less effective
There are no guidelines to guide foot and hand placement
Personal space is not clearly defined
Many yoga styles do not require mats
Several specialized styles do not require mats. These are great places to explore and experiment with a matless practice. Bed Yoga, Paddleboard Yoga, Acro Yoga, and Aerial yoga can all be taught without mats.