Many people across the globe do not use a mat when they practice yoga. Yoga mats were created in the west to make us westerners more comfortable. Yoga mats also created an 11.56 billion dollar industry in 2018, and it continues to grow. When I began practicing yoga, I never had a mat and used the hardwood floor in my bedroom. I had a space in front of a window that seemed nice and overlooked my garden.
Here are a few tips for practicing without a mat.
1. If it hurts, don’t do the pose.
Now I would say this in general. For example, if it hurts your knees to be on the floor, don’t put your knee down. Instead of a low lunge, do a high lunge. There is always a variation to a pose. Figure out the pose’s goal and the muscles involved and just engage them in a different position. For example,- you can do cat/cow seated, and you do not have to be on your hands and knees.
2. Use a blanket or towel to pad to create a cushion if needed.
Knee pads used for gardening can also be used. Hardwood can be rough on your knees. If you are practicing on a carpet, I would bet there is some kind of cushion underneath. For relaxation, I just lay on a blanket and listened to a recording. See number 4 if the floor is not accessible to you.
3. If you find that your hands or feet are slipping, try using a non-slip surface such as the pads that help you open jars.
If you are prone to sweating, use a towel, or have a washcloth nearby. There are fancy yoga socks for this as well. The point here is to find a non-slip surface, so you do not get hurt and stay safe.
4. If you can’t get up and down off the floor, practice yoga in a chair.
This is always an option. Just make sure that the chair is on something that won’t slide. This has gained popularity among seniors, but using a chair is always an option regardless of age, especially when recovering from an illness or injury.
5. There are 8 different limbs of yoga. You don’t have to practice the postures.
I have been taught to have 5 different components to the yoga class. We begin with singing, eye exercises, physical postures, breathing exercises, and guided relaxation. If postures are not accessible to you, you can still do a yoga practice. The goal of yoga postures is to prepare the body for meditation. Just because you don’t do the postures does not mean you are not doing yoga.
You don’t need anything to practice yoga, including a mat, blocks, straps, etc. It is with you no matter where you are. “If you have a mind and a body, you can practice yoga”- Jivana Haymen, Founder of Accessible Yoga.