Yoga with no mat: the professionals and cons

Have you ever been hit by your yoga mat? Perhaps you transitioned from a high lunge to a standing forward fold during class and your foot position wasn’t accurate, causing your sticky mat to clump under it. Or, worse, your mat smells funky from the hot class you attended a few days ago, and you get a smell every time you inhale in kid pose. A small but passionate group of yogis has exactly the solution. They say: “Not anymore!” to yoga mats and throw them aside.

Can you do yoga without a mat?

Yes, you definitely can! But before you try it, you should understand the pros and cons of not using any. Your choice also depends on the type of yoga you practice and Your needs for upholstery, space, hygiene and environmental friendliness.

“The ecstasy of yoga cannot be contained in a mat,” said Dana Flynn, director of Laughing Lotus, a studio in New York and San Francisco. Many yoga teachers in their studios encourage yoga students to practice without a mat, especially on a wooden floor. But there is more to it than that. It seems that there is a feeling behind it The mat is seen as a status symbol and a way to Mark your territory to these special yoga practitioners. It is also viewed as unsanitary and harmful to the environment.

Who can argue with that? Most mats are made from a synthetic plastic product and as more “green” mats become available, the cost of making and shipping the mats has some environmental impact. And using studio mats after others have used them always seems a little germinated, though every reputable yoga studio will let you know that the mats are cleaned between classes.

Practice without a yoga mat

But have you ever practiced without a mat? It’s a little strange. What if you show up without a mat and the floor is dirty? Yuck.

There is a level of comfort in being on your mat in your personal space. It is a rectangular space that is entirely yours. This is nice in an environment where space is minimal and class attendance is high. The mat is a boundary, a kind of marker for your neighbor that can be crossed, but there is an unspoken understanding that this is only by invitation or sometimes randomly when space is tight. So there’s a bit of a territorial feel to it, but I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that little piece of mat pillow is welcome, like when I’m in certain yoga poses like Downward Dog or when I’m aiming for forearm balance.

I can get involved with the “idea” without practicing a mat, especially when I hear Alex Schatzberg of Yoga Vida, a studio in Greenwich Village, put it. “The idea of ​​practicing without a mat is idyllic in that the nature of yoga practice does not require anything but your body.”

Yes, I agree … totally … at home, on my clean floor, alone, in my own practice.

I have to admit, though, that by teaching yoga outdoors and in classes in a park, I’ve found that this is common It’s easier to swap the mat for a large blanket or toss it aside entirely than it is to try to use it. There is a sense of freedom when doing yoga outside, and a synthetic mat with a little stickiness just won’t fit. If the floor is even a little uneven, the mat tends to curl up and stick out in weird places.

No mat advantages

  • More flexibility to practice anywhere
  • Don’t limit your movements to a rectangle
  • More environmentally conscious
  • Save money when you buy yoga mats
  • Connects you to nature when you practice on grass or sand
  • Frees up storage space
  • Less worry

No dull disadvantages

  • You will need to adjust or change the practice when you find yourself on a hard or slippery floor
  • May increase the risk of injury or pain
  • Less protection against germs
  • Lack of guidelines for foot and hand placement
  • Lack of defined personal space

Yoga styles that don’t require mats

There are several special styles that do not use mats. If you’re curious about a mat-free exercise, this is a great place to experiment and explore. Bed yoga, paddleboard yoga, acro yoga, and aerial yoga are all taught without a mat.

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