5 best yoga mat substitutes and why you don’t necessarily need one

No yoga mat? No problem!

Do you want to get into yoga? You might have heard it helps with stress and is great for your body.

But then you think – can I do this without a yoga mat? Is there an affordable alternative?

Especially when you aren’t 100% sure if this practice is something you want to stick with for the long run, you might not want to make that investment right away.

The good news? There are plenty of alternatives and I will tell you exactly why you don’t need a yoga mat to practice!

1) A thick blanket

If you have a thick blanket that is large enough to lay on the floor, you can use that instead.

You can even go for a thicker blanket, like a quilt.

This will be helpful for those who sweat a lot or live in a cold climate.

A thick blanket will help you avoid sliding around which is especially helpful for beginners who are just getting used to balancing poses.

It’s also a great idea to use a blanket if you’re practicing on a carpet or on the grass outside.

You can also use a blanket if you’re pregnant, have joint or back issues, or are just looking for a more gentle type of yoga.

The thing is, blankets can be slippery, but if the blanket is thick and big enough, you can use it for a long time.

The great thing about a thick blanket is how soft it is.

You see, when you do poses, even a yoga mat can be a little bit hard on your body.

So a blanket is much more comfortable on the floor, so you can practice longer without getting tired.

You can do poses without getting sore joints and can hold certain poses for longer.

Plus, it’s really nice to lay on a blanket and close your eyes in meditation.

That’s probably my personal favorite part of this yoga mat alternative.

But if you prefer something a bit thinner:

2) A sweat-absorbing exercise towel or a beach towel

In place of a synthetic yoga mat, you can use a sweat-absorbing exercise towel or a beach towel.

These are designed to be soft and gentle on the skin and are great for non-slip and moisture-wicking properties.

You can easily wash these towels, which makes them even more convenient.

Just be careful not to use towels that have a lot of loose threads or are made of a rough material because you might end up with rug burns on your knees or hands.

A beach towel might be a little thicker, which can be useful if you’re practicing yoga on hard surfaces like concrete or wood.

If you want something that is a little more compact and easy to travel with, an exercise towel might be the way to go.

The thing is, these are amazing alternatives because you can bring them anywhere with ease – especially exercise towels are hyper thin, so they take up little space in your bag!

The downside of them being thin is that you will probably feel whatever is underneath the towel a bit more.

Make sure when you choose one, that it is big enough for your entire body to go on, otherwise you might have issues with slipping around.

I love using towels because it’s such a convenient way to practice yoga and you can simply wash the towel after your practice!

But what if you are really into getting back to the roots?

3) Utilize the floor

The floor is your best friend when it comes to yoga.

You can use a yoga mat if you like, but it’s not necessary. Instead, you can use hardwood or carpeted floors in your apartment.

Carpeted floors are great for more challenging yoga because you won’t be sliding around like you would if you were on a hard surface.

However, even a hardwood floor can be amazing, it makes you feel especially athletic and connected to your roots.

If you do choose to use the floor, make sure it’s clean. You can easily clean the floor with a carpet cleaner or use a disinfectant spray on a hardwood floor.

The amazing thing about using your floor for this is that you literally don’t need anything to practice.

Even if you are just beginning yoga, it can be great fun just exploring with no mats or anything fancy.

When I first started out, I started on my hardwood floor, too, and it allowed me to really get a good feeling for my body and balance.

I’m not saying you have to go out of your way to use the floor – although it’s a big bonus when doing yoga, it’s not required at all.

But if you like it a bit softer:

4) A rug or carpet

Carpets are often more comfortable than yoga mats since they usually have a softer and thicker feel to them.

While you may slip on a hardwood floor, you’re less likely to slip on a carpet.

Rugs also come in different colors, patterns, and designs so you can choose one that fits your taste and aesthetic.

If you’re practicing on a rug, try to make sure it’s clean and free of any debris or dirt. You don’t want to end up with allergies or damage to your knees and hands.

The thing is, using a rug as a yoga mat can be amazing, as a lot of rugs are non-slip.

Make sure the rug is big enough for your hands and feet to go on, otherwise you might slip more easily.

Another benefit of using a rug is that they tend to be very soft and makes for more comfortable poses.

It’s also nice to use a rug in some yoga poses because it allows you to hold your body in certain positions that might otherwise be hard on your joints or just make things too tight.

Plus, almost everyone has some sort of rug at home!

The only downside to rugs is that, depending on which rug you use, it might be a bit difficult to clean.

But if you use one that can be washed in the washing machine, you’ll be fine.

5) A quilt

If you want a comfortable and soft surface on which to practice yoga and you don’t want to use a yoga mat, a quilt is a great alternative.

Quilts are usually made of cotton and can be very soft. They come in many different colors, patterns, and designs, so you can choose one that fits your taste and aesthetic.

If you choose to use a quilt, make sure it’s thick enough so that it doesn’t move around while you are practicing.

If the quilt is too thin, you could slip around a bit too much.

Here the fabric also comes into play- make sure it’s soft enough to be comfortable, but not too soft that it slides around the floor.

Yet another great benefit of using a quilt is that it can be laundered in your washing machine – no need to worry about getting it really clean!

You see, when you use something as beneficial as a quilt, you may never want to go back to a yoga mat.

But I have one more bonus tip for you:

6) Bonus tip: grass or sand outside

If you like outdoor yoga, the best alternative is to use grass or sand.

This is a great way to connect with nature and feel grounded.

Although it will be a little less comfortable than a mat, you can easily keep your balance by tightening your core muscles.

If you don’t want to stand, you can also sit or lie on the grass.

Grass and sand are amazing alternatives to a yoga mat because they allow you to really get in touch with nature and the energy of the earth.

If it’s hot outside, you can get some fresh air while you practice.

Also, if you don’t like getting grass or sand on your knees or hands, it’s quite simple to wash them off a little later.

Besides being great alternatives to a yoga mat, these natural surfaces are amazing for your body because they allow for a deeper stretch and also loosen up your muscles.

Grass and sand give you enough grip to do any pose you might think of, while still being soft enough that you won’t feel any pressure.

In short, it is the perfect alternative to a yoga mat and you get the added benefit of being outside and grounding yourself.

Grounding is when you connect to your roots and feel the energy, strength, and power of the earth.

This can really aid your yoga practice as it can make you more present and connected with your body.

No matter what surface you choose to practice yoga on, remember that the most important thing is finding one that works best for you and your needs!

The key is to find a surface that fits in with your style of yoga, as well as being comfortable.

Why you don’t need a yoga mat

A yoga mat is a tool that makes practice easier, but it is not a necessity.

This can be especially helpful for people who are new to yoga and are worried about falling or slipping during a yoga practice or investing in gear that they won’t use later on.

Now: Yoga mats make the practice safer by providing more traction and grip which can help make moves like balancing poses easier.

However, other surfaces can provide that same level of safety, if you simply know what to use!

Let’s take a look at the exact reasons why you don’t necessarily need a yoga mat:

You might have a better grip without a mat

Mats are great, don’t get me wrong, but if a yoga mat is not super high quality, or it’s already getting a bit old, it can easily lose its grip.

That’s when things get difficult – you’ll be slipping around on that mat.

The lacking grip provided by an old yoga mat can make it difficult to properly hold your pose because your fingers are gripping the mat too tightly.

You might even find that not having a mat is helpful for your pose because it gives you a better sense of how to properly engage your muscles.

This is especially helpful for people new to yoga who want to practice their adjustments.

If you are worried about your grip, try putting something underneath yourself, like a towel or a rug.

Sometimes, simply practicing on the floor or outside will give you a much better grip.

Plus, it takes you back to the yoga roots, which is my next point:

The original yogis practiced without mats

Yoga is an ancient practice that goes back thousands of years.

The original yogis practiced without mats, so there is no reason to feel as though you need one in your practice.

In the temples back in the day, yogis didn’t use mats for a long time.

They practiced on the floors or outside in nature and found a way to make it work for them.

You can do the same thing today – especially if you don’t have the money to spend on a mat!

If you feel as though you need more traction, like in balance poses, try something like a rug underneath or grass.

If you are worried about getting hot during your practice, maybe go outside or find a surface that is cool to the touch.

I don’t know about you, but for me, not using a mat makes me feel more connected to the roots of yoga, I feel as though I can really connect to the earth.

As long as you’re comfortable, nothing else matters

The purpose of yoga is to connect with your breath and the present moment.

If you are distracted by the fact that you have to keep adjusting your mat, then you are missing out.

The best yoga mat alternative is the one that makes you comfortable.

If you’re worried about falling or slipping during a yoga practice and can’t focus, a yoga mat is a good investment.

These are designed to provide traction and keep you on your mat while you practice.

The best yoga mat alternative is one that is comfortable for you, that fits your needs, and that doesn’t cause you any discomfort.

If you prefer a thicker or softer mat, or if you like the pattern on a certain mat, then go for it!

Don’t let yourself feel like you need to settle for something that you don’t like just because you don’t want to spend money on a yoga mat.

You see, yoga mats are a tool that you can choose to use, but in reality, as long as you are comfortable, nothing else matters.

During your practice, you won’t be focused on whether you have a mat or not. Once you feel good, that’s all that really matters.

Yoga mats can be gross

Another reason you don’t necessarily need a yoga mat is that yoga mats can be really gross.

You have to clean a yoga mat properly in order for it to keep its integrity and not get smelly and gross.

That said, most people don’t really do the best job of cleaning their mats, which means that after a while, they can smell pretty bad.

The thing is, with a towel or a rug, you can easily just throw it into the washing machine. For yoga mats, you have to get a specific spray meant for them.

If you are practicing on a yoga mat, make sure to never use a dirty mat.

Do not use a yoga mat that has been used by someone else, and do not use a mat that is dirty or has stains on it.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

Most importantly, you don’t know what bacteria and germs are on that mat and you’ll be touching that with your entire body.

There is also the smell factor to consider.

If you don’t wash your mat properly, it will start to get a bit funky and won’t smell good for a long time.

Final thoughts

Yoga mats can be an amazing tool, no doubt about it.

However, you don’t necessarily need a yoga mat in order to practice yoga.

If you are worried about slipping or falling, you might want to invest in a mat, but if that is not an issue for you, then maybe there is something else out there that will work better for your needs and improve your experience.

In fact, I recommend giving it a try without a mat to beginners who are still trying to get the hang of things.

If you feel like you love yoga but can’t deal with these alternatives, you can always still go and get a mat.

For the beginning, however, I feel like using a rug, towel, or floor is your best bet!

You’ll figure out if yoga is something for you and you’ll know if you want to invest in a mat.

And the best part?

You’ll learn that no matter where you are if you’re traveling or someplace new, you can always practice yoga regardless of what tools you have at your disposal!

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