Can You Do Yoga Without A Mat?

Can You Do Yoga Without A Mat?
Because the cost for quality yoga mats is often high, many people ask, “Can you do yoga without a mat?” The short answer is yes, but there are several factors to consider when trying to decide whether or not a mat is right for you.

Benefits of Having a Yoga Mat

If practicing yoga in a place with a hard floor, it is not suggested to do yoga without standing on something. Yoga mats are best suited for this, but you can also use a towel, rug or blanket. This will help prevent you from slipping, but there should also be some cushion between your feet and the floor (meaning one layer of towel probably isn’t going to do the trick). Proper practice of yoga involves clearing the mind, and having your feet firmly planted on a cold, hard surface will draw your attention to them throughout your session. Sitting and standing positions can become very uncomfortable if there is nothing separating your body from a hard surface, and you may experience soreness unrelated to muscle building. Many people use a mat because of the comfort and safety factor.

Using a mat can also help protect you from germs if practicing in a studio, gym or school. If you don’t want your bare feet touching the ground that countless other pairs of feet have stepped on, using a yoga mat is probably a good idea. However, if you don’t keep your yoga mat clean and sanitized there’s a good chance it’s even less clean than the floor.

Reasons to Do Yoga Without a Mat

Some people prefer not to use mats because they feel that they are hazardous to the environment, and many companies are trying to cash in on the popularity of yoga by making cheap, poorly made mats. If you feel strongly about these subjects, consider taking yoga outdoors — performing yoga on uneven but comfortable terrain, like sand, grass or even a large, smooth rock can help strengthen your feet and balance. As mentioned before, you can save money while making your practice comfortable indoors by using folded blankets or towels.

Mats can make some people feel restricted in their movements, while others feel it gives them great guidelines for foot placement. The only way to find out what’s best for you is to practice with and without a mat, and make a decision based on your experience and priorities.

*Photo courtesy of Anna Gannon.

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