Yoga mats are used by practitioners of Hatha yoga to prevent their hands and feet from slipping while stretching and posing. Yoga mats are generally found in a single color, and while prepainted mats can be bought from yoga retailers, these mats are often very expensive with limited artistic options. Painting is a cheap and effective way to personalize your own yoga mat.
While hundreds of years ago yogis practiced on tiger and deer skins, today you can use a small rug, blanket, large towel or commercially made dedicated yoga mat. Modern mats are generally made of a closed-cell foam material blend of PVC and rubber called ensolite. Ensolite is a composite material used in everything from camping pads to car stereo soundproofing, and is particularly advantageous for yoga mats as it provides excellent padding while also sticking to one spot on the floor.
Purchase a mat in the base color you like to both lesson the amount of painting you will need to do and make the paint job last longer.
Wash the yoga mat using warm water, then dry as much as you can with paper towels. Air dry the yoga mat for several hours or overnight to remove any dampness that would interfere with the paint. When the mat is perfectly dry, use a fine-point permanent marker to draw designs, hand and foot placements or Sanskrit symbols on your mat as a guide for your paint job.
Painting the Mat
Acrylic craft paints can be mixed to create any color you desire. With a clean, dry paintbrush, lightly dab the brush into the paint and begin painting your desired design, starting on one side or corner and working your way down the mat. Once your chosen design is finished, allow the mat dry completely overnight before painting the opposite side, if desired. If you painted both sides of the mat, hang it by its corners from a clothesline or other suspended device to make sure both sides dry evenly. While no paint will permanently stick to a foam pad, acrylic artist's paint can last for months or years, depending on how often you use your mat and the resulting wear and tear.
If you'd like to change the base color of your mat, use a roller to spread paint evenly. With regard to your design, possible painting options include nature scenes, meditative imagery, geometric designs, inspirational quotations, fractals, yogic symbols, or helpful hand-and-foot placement instructions.
Todd Maternowski began writing in 1996 as one of the co-founders of "The Chicago Criterion." He joined the local online news revolutionaries at Pegasus News in 2006, where he continues to work to this day. He studied religion at the University of Chicago.