A yoga mat is the most essential yoga equipment so it is best to have a yoga mat for your practice.
But if you are traveling or getting outside and still want to enjoy few poses without a yoga mat. Think outside of the box with available yoga mat alternatives around you that you can secure your feet.
In the place where yoga was born, people did not practice on a yoga mat before. They practice yoga on a cotton rug lay over the mud floor to feel more connected to the earth. That may no longer suitable for us when we don’t have a mud floor if we stay in the apartment, so a yoga mat is helpful to offer floor grip to hold the poses safety and padding support to release the stress for your join.
While most of the time you spend practicing on your mat. Sometimes why not go ahead and try to practice right on the floor to build strength and flexibility. Practice outside of the mat you feel more freedom and creativity.
So here is the list of 13 yoga mat alternatives to practice without stepping foot on a yoga mat.
#1. Yoga Mat Towel
Design to layover yoga mat but yoga towel can put on top of carpet, hardwood floor or any place you want to practice.
Yoga mat towel has a cotton top that absorbs moisture and grippy rubber nubs on the bottom which offers grip to keep you stay in place. It is foldable, you can put it in your suitcase or backpack and ready to travel.
Plus, you can throw it in the wash. Yoga Mat Towel is the number one alternative for a yoga mat.
#2. Yoga Cotton Rug
A yoga cotton rug is made of 100% cotton so it does not have a rubber smell like a yoga mat. It provides a decent amount of traction and gets grippier when it’s wet. You can fold it to make it a bolster and use it as a mat for a picnic.
However, it gets slippery on a smooth surface, it is better to place it on top of a rubber mat, carpet, or mud floor.
Traditional Ashtanga yogi prefers practicing on Mysore cotton yoga rug to build strength by engaging muscle to work on standing postures.
#3. Yoga Gloves and Socks
Yoga gloves and socks are great alternatives to a yoga mat. With anti-slip bottom that provides grip for your palm and feet, you can do yoga right on the floor with a standing and arm balancing sequence. (Especially it keeps you warm when the weather gets cold.) Find a cushion for more comfortable seated and kneeling postures.
#4. Beach Towel
How about doing yoga before you jump into the pool? That’s where I find the beach towel is a nice subtitle for a yoga mat.
The rectangular size of a beach towel is pretty close to an actual mat, the top layer of the towel is smooth enough for flowing. You can lay the towel on the floor to create a comfortable base for your practice or rolled it to use as extra padding to your knee. Beach towels can absorb sweat, and dry fast.
#5. Woven Blanket
Woven Blanket is thicker than a towel so you get a better cushion. It is a sufficient choice if you practice on a not super slippery surface. You can fold it in a rectangle and you get a yoga mat. However, it is not a perfect alternative for a yoga mat if you do a vinyasa sequence because it can get in your way when you transition between poses.
The blanket is more ideal as a prop for restorative or yin yoga. Or a cushion for meditation practice.
#6. Bed and Mattress
You don’t need to get out of your bed to do yoga. Why not start your day with a wake-up seated yoga sequence or try a short relax Yin session to soften your muscle before sleep. (Comfort and cushy, what can be a better subtitle of a yoga mat than your bed.)
Do yoga on a bed can challenge your ability to keep balance by engaging your core. I do try to play with inversion on the bed. It’s fun but I do not recommend you to do the same because the bed does not give you the stability for standing or inversion poses so it is best to avoid.
#7. Desk chair
Do you experience lower back or neck pain after sitting on your desk in front of a computer for a long time? Why not try short stretching at your desk.
Try poses that focus on your neck and shoulder and lower back such as Cat and cow, Neck side stretch, seated spinal twists, seated side bend.
#8. Wooden Floor
A wooden floor has a stable surface which is good enough for balancing poses. I try a lot of arm balance, plank, and handstand practice on the wood floor. Flowing on the floor requires engaging the entire body to prevent slipping and slide. The floor has no cushion so keep a blanket handy to pad your knees when necessary.
The carpet provides a bit more padding than the floor and warmer during the winter months. However, the carpet has no grip and does not provide enough stability so it is difficult to try warrior or balancing poses. Go with Seated and Lying postures (can feel itchy to some people.)
#10. Sandy beach
Image you do sun salutation on the sandy beach on your swimsuit with soothing waves, smiling sun. And end up your practice swimming. Sound perfect! Sand is soft so you can sink, you need to use muscle to stay balance.
#11. Grassy lawn
Practicing yoga outdoor on grass can be an excellent way to connect with nature. Whether it is your grassy backyard or in the park, it can be a good alternative for a yoga mat. I would rather focus on the standing pose because grass can be mud and itchy to some.
#12. Picnic Blanket
A picnic blanket is another good idea to practice yoga outdoor. It has a waterproof layer underneath make a nice area to lie down on.
I would love to use a big rock to do hamstring stretch and backbend when I go hiking. Rock is perfect for taking yoga photos outdoor.
The bottom line
Have not find the right mat yet, here is a guide on how to choose a yoga mat. And in the meantime, you can find anything that secure your feet to use as a subtitle for your mat.
If you have a yoga mat it is great. But feel free to do yoga outside of the yoga mat sometimes because it brings creativity and makes you feel and think differently.