Yoga: Mats And All That
Do I need a yoga mat?
It is absolutely fine to practice yoga postures (asanas) without a yoga mat. But be sure that the surface you're practicing on is soft enough to protect your wrists, hands and knees. If you're practicing on a hard floor such as concrete or hard wood, then you'll certainly notice it later and your hands and knees may feel a little tender. On the other hand, if your surface is too soft, for example if you're practicing on the sand or in long grass, your wrists and ankles may be in danger of not being well-supported and may twist or turn in ways that won't feel great.
This is one reason a yoga mat is a good option, but a good carpet, rug or other kind of mat are totally fine options too. If you're outdoors, short grass, firm sand or earth are perfectly fine too. And it's so nice to feel natural surfaces beneath your hands and feet. Getting a lung full of earthy grassy smell is such a treat half way through a sun salutation!
OK, so maybe I'd still like one, but how do I pick one?
If you would like to purchase a yoga mat, then it certainly doesn't need to cost the earth! A lot of yoga brands charge a premium for their products (mats, leggings, and all sorts of weird and wonderful things) but these are often a distraction and the opposite of what practicing yoga, and connecting to body and breath is trying to achieve.
Yoga Matters do a lovely sticky yoga mat which is a pretty reasonable £20 and comes in a range of glorious colours. It's thick enough to use on the carpet or a wooden floor and is pretty non slip (if you don't wear socks!).
Yoga Mad Warrior Plus mats are a little dearer at about £25 but are a little thicker than the sticky mats which is great if your floor gets cold or is really quite hard. I love the colours and the tie dye effect and the blue one makes me think of the sky when I'm practicing.
You can also pick mats up for £5 at places like TK Maxx and these are great too.
What to consider when purchasing a yoga mat?
Too thin and it may ruffle up when you practice so pick a thickness that will stay flat, be comfy and keep your warm if you have a cold floor.
For me this is one of the main things! Pick a brightly coloured mat in your favourite colour to help cultivate feelings of energy or a more relaxed or natural earthy tone to help cultivate feelings of grounded-ness.
Weight and roll size
Be mindful of how heavy and how small the mat rolls if you are planning to travel with it or need to store it at home.
How do I take care of my yoga mat?
Washing a yoga mat is no easy feat! Good luck and if you discover an easy and successful way to do this, please let me know. If your mat gets dirty over time it can be really tough to clean. I've heard people suggest sprays, scrubbing them in the bath, hosing them down outside. I've never successfully cleaned a mat and they can take days to dry! I'd recommend letting it air out every time you use it and when you get a sunny day pop it outside for a sun bath!
Do I have to do yoga on the floor?
Can I do yoga on my bed?
Yes, you can absolutely do yoga on your bed. Obviously some poses (weight bearing on your wrists or standing poses) may be a little dangerous for joints and wobbles from high places, but some seated and restorative poses are wonderful on your bed. Especially if you do them just before sleep or when you wake up!
Top bed poses (incorporate pillows wherever you can an extra mmm effect):
Seated forward fold
Legs up the wall/headboard
So, there you have it. Yoga on mats, yoga not on mats, and yoga in bed. Enjoy.
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Carrie Froggett Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.