Yoga mats come in all colors, sizes, textures. Although they seem to be the most essential prop, many practiced without them until they came on the scene in the 80’s. The first ones were nonstick mats to put under carpets protecting and enhancing the life of the carpet.
Now, a yoga mat is one of the most adaptable of all the props routinely used . The mat’s wonderful stickiness keeps you from sliding when you jump into a pose. Folded, it supports your head, wrists, forearms and elbows in Headstand, Sirsasana, and many other asanas.
Travel tool and at home
When traveling, a folded mat easily fits in the bottom of a suitcase. Rolled, it slides into a hang-up bag.
At your destination or at home, if you have carpeting you can adapt your standing poses to practice at the wall. With the anchor of the wall the pose will go deep to the bone, and give added stability. Spongy carpet is no more an obstacle. Just place the end of the mat perpendicular and flush to a wall. Then practice standing poses with your back foot against the wall. Come into Triangle Pose and other poses with the wall as your guru. Press the outer edge of your foot as if you are filling up the space between the floor and the wall.
Before closing your practice with Savasana, add one more chest opener with your mat. Roll the mat tightly and place it perpendicular to your spine. Lie down on top of the roll with the mat touching the bottom tips of your shoulder blades. Press the tops of your shoulders to the floor. Keep your legs in supta tadasana, straight legs with tailbone in or you can bend or cross your legs.
Breathe, and feel the transformation.
Mats Go Green
Over the last few years at IYNC in Encinitas we only purchase plant-based and eco-friendly mats. They are the green colored ones and are imported from Europe. Most on the market today are petrol-based, some are rubber.
So it is important not to throw away old mats. Most older mats, and many still on the market today, were made using PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. While the vinyl helps give the mats their famed “stick”, the oil-based material almost never disintegrates. So, we recommend turning that old mat into something else useful. Cut it up and glue pieces together to make flip flops. Tie small mat strips together to become play toys for your kitties. Use the mat as packing material when you need to store things or move. Turn the mat into a door mat to catch dirt, dust and leaves. Use it under your carpets!
Several of you have asked about how often to wash your mat. Personal preferences vary, but a good rule of thumb is to wash your mat at each season. And, of course, wash it whenever it’s dirty!
It’s easy to wash a mat. Just put it into your washing machine with a mild detergent. Use a cold water setting and spin. Hang it to dry. It may take 2 days to dry.
More To Come
Over the next several months we’ll be profiling other props used in our practice at the Center. In the meantime, if you have questions about how to take full advantage of your own mat, just ask. And if you have ideas for ways to recycle and reuse an old mat, please post them on our Facebook page.
See you on the mat!