Do you need a mat to practise yoga?
Can you practise yoga without a mat?
Way back when, at the dawn of Yoga, a yogi’s practice mainly consisted of pranayama (breathwork) and meditation. They might sit on animal skins, cotton cloths, or a nice bed of forest leaves, but they certainly didn’t whip out their Liforme minis to go within.
Nowadays, with the arrival of more dynamic yoga practices, practising on animal hide doesn’t quite cut it anymore. Working on carpet or cushiony gym mats can actually lead to injury. Nobody likes carpet burn or having their wrists consumed by hungry, gummy floor mats. It's like trying to do tree pose on sinking sand. No thanks.
Are yoga mats worth it?
So, are yoga mats worth it? We are somewhat biased in saying yes, but it does largely depend on what you’re practising.
Yoga isn’t just a physical practice, despite all the wildly inaccessible fancy poses portrayed on social media. Yoga is an ancient wisdom tradition combining physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines that enable practitioners to still the mind, discover a deep connection with the universe, recognise that they are more than their external form, and work towards both individual and collective healing. You don’t need a mat to carry out any of the above, just the will to slow down the breath, listen, and learn.
Nevertheless, yoga mats can still be pretty handy. Whether you’re using them to create a defined meditation space at home, practice handstands, or a picnic blanket, they can serve a purpose.
What should I look for in a yoga mat?
So, what actually makes a quality yoga mat, well, quality? Here’s our top-quality yoga mat criteria:
You don’t want to feel like you’re sliding around on your mat, nor do you want your mat to move around when you’re practising. This can be dangerous! So, the grip is essential to keep you rooted and grounded. That way, you can spend more time learning how to be kinder, stronger, and more conscious of your actions, and less distracted by feeling like you’re on a broken magic carpet trying to take off.
Comfort & stability
Whether you’re practising mandala yoga or settling in to read up on yoga philosophy, you want a mat that is comfortable and stable. Now, we all love a facial, but unsolicited chin, hand, or foot exfoliation is not the one. Nobody like's feeling like they're walking on sandpaper.
Over the last decade, yoga mat manufacturers have been trying to move away from PVC, a plastic-based material that is highly durable - so durable, in fact, that it doesn’t biodegrade. Thumbs down. Mats made with PVC are not as environmentally friendly as organic mats, such as cork, bamboo, or cotton-based ones. These are planet-loving and, in many cases, just as grippy as your standard plastic mats.
At Third Eye Yoga, our sacred geometric products are designed by yogis and artists. We root our design approach in conservation. In other words, creating responsibly sourced yoga products while minimising environmental waste is at the heart of what we do. Our goal is to produce high-performance yoga products with an even greater purpose. So, you can focus on yourself and your practice and leave us to do the rest.
Sophie Heatley (she/her) is a Content Writer and Yoga Instructor based in London. She has been teaching at various studios, on retreat, and online since 2018. On the side, she creates online and editorial content for a variety of clients within diverse industries, from the arts, to wellness, to financial law. Discover where she's teaching and what she's writing by following her on social media @sophieheatley_