Yoga mats only grew in popularity after the 1990’s, after the first purpose-made yoga mat was invented in Europe. For years before then, the ancient Indian practice took place on grass, firm earth and animal skins.
While it’s become a widely popular accessory in the West today, a yoga mat isn't necessary for gentle practices, such as restorative or hatha yoga. Some people prefer to practice without one – freeing up their practice to beyond the yoga mat.
If you don’t have a yoga mat to hand and want to dive into a quick practice – here are seven DIY yoga mat alternatives to help you do just that.
What to Use Instead of a Yoga Mat?
Towels are a great accessible household item that can double up as an effective substitute for a yoga mat. You can also use towels to create support aids, which are especially helpful in certain poses.
We suggest you choose a thicker towel to provide you with a decent amount of cushioning from the hard floor. This can also be used as a prop to keep provide extra support to your joints - simply roll it up and use it as a barrier beneath your lower back or under the knees. This is an ideal accessory for doing simple sitting up or lying down poses and for deep breathing exercises. Be careful, when attempting to certain poses as towels can be slippery and won't have the extra grip to support more difficult yoga positions.
2. Woven Blankets
Using a large woven blanket is also an excellent alternative to a regular yoga mat. Choose a woven blanket that has texture to it and provides just enough cushioning. Avoid comforters or slippery fabrics, as these can be dangerous to stand on.
While these woven blankets can be used to give you some support, they aren’t a complete replacement to yoga mats. As long as you’re not performing a complicated yoga move, a woven blanket should do the trick.
If you want a dedicated object similar to a yoga mat, then we highly suggest taking a trip to your nearest fabric store. This method is beyond the cheapest and will allow you to make a custom-sized yoga mat that you can carry with you.
For this, you can use either handspun or handwoven fabrics, which give traction and stick to the floor. It’s best to find one with some thickness or texture too. In this way, it has a better chance to stick to the floor.
4. Gloves and Socks
Other alternatives that can be used are gloves and socks. Aim to purchase work gloves that have a ribbed or studded texture, which can help enhance your grip. Next, find socks that have a similar style to the gloves. Look for either a sock with texture or a grip that can help prevent you from slipping on the hard surface.
Many companies design gloves and socks that are meant to be used with yoga mats or on their own. The upside to using these is that they’re easy to pack, lightweight, and allow you to do yoga anywhere, any time.
If you’re planning on conducting your daily yoga session at home, one of the easiest substitutes is rugs or carpets that you lay over your floor. The type of carpet you will need will change depending on the style of yoga you plan on performing.
Any yoga routines that require you to be in a standing position work well with low-pile carpeting. On the other hand, if you’re performing on-the-ground poses, then a long-pile carpet may be better.
However, if the carpet is not that big, you will need to keep in mind that it may slide around, especially on a hardwood floor. One fix to this problem is to stick a shower mat underneath the carpet. This will allow the carpet to stay in place.
6. Wood Flooring
The next alternative we can recommend is practicing on a wooden floor. While it may not be the most comfortable to do, it will help prevent any sliding and will allow you to use it as a stable surface for your standing positions.
However, the downside to doing this is that the hardwood floor is inconvenient for most modern yoga positions. Any pose that requires you to be on your elbows or knees will be extremely painful. That’s why we highly recommend getting a padded mat or using one of our methods mentioned above in combination with hardwood flooring.
An inexpensive alternative is using a bath mat on a hard floor surface. You would want to choose ones that have a rigid texture. In that way, you will be able to keep the mat in place.
Place it down on the floor and secure the suction cups down. Flatten the mat out if needed and be sure to purchase a bath mat that doesn’t have holes. This is because your fingers and toes can get stuck in them and cause you to trip.
There are so many different alternatives to using yoga mats, each with their pros and cons. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the type of poses you plan on doing.
Standing poses require you to have a non-slip surface and more traction whereas sitting poses require you to have a comfortable surface to lay on. These factors can help you choose which method will work best for you.