When people first get interested in practicing yoga, most people assume that they need to buy a mat. But is this really the case? It depends on the type of yoga you are practicing and how often you plan on practicing yoga per week. Below are arguments for both sides.
No, you don't need a mat to practice yoga
Yoga mats are a modern invention. Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years without the help of any attributes like yoga mats and yoga blocks. It is perfectly possible to practice yoga without a mat. If you plan on practicing a more gentle type of yoga rather than a hot yoga class like a yin class, then you can easily practice without a mat. Just make sure that you have a clean and stable (non-slip) floor. Make sure your practice area is level without uneven spots to cause injury.
Yes, you do need a mat to practice yoga
Using a yoga mat is more hygienic, especially when you are not practicing at home. On a wooden surface there could be bacteria lurking, and if you practice at a studio that has a carport, buy a mat. A mat will provide support and cushioning to ensure comfort when practicing on a hard floor. Non-slip mats help you to hold poses more easily, and there is less danger of hurting yourself.
If you do decide to buy a yoga mat, then avoid the cheap PVC mats. Even though they are inexpensive to buy and come in a wide range of flashy colors, they are made from harmful materials. One of these, a chemical substance called phthalates, is particularly bad for the environment and your health. Phthalates are not biodegradable, cannot be recycled, and can release noxious fumes throughout the lifespan of the mat. So if you do choose to use a yoga mat, choose a more environmentally friendly option like cotton, natural rubber, or Thermal Plastic Elastomer. Most yoga mat companies now make organic mats that are not only good for you but good for your wallet. It is becoming cheaper to make yoga mats out of recycled materials than it is to make them from harmful glues and fabrics.
By Sharon Page; All Rights Reserved @2013