While your yoga mat serves as a magic carpet that helps your mind slip away from reality, it also prevents your feet from slipping out from under you, which is why using the mat properly is crucial.
Your mat becomes your personal space. This small piece of material provides protection from the hard floor, keeps you from slipping and is your signal that you have entered time for yourself. When you practice on carpet, the mat helps to ground your feet and improve your balance. (See Reference 1) If you have not used a yoga mat, you will enjoy the security your mat provides on whatever surface you are on.
Yoga mats are available in different levels of stickiness. A light sticky mat provides just enough tack to keep you from slipping during a traditional yoga class. Stickier mats are helpful if you perspire a lot or practice in a warm room. Some mats are made of rubber that provide a non-slip surface, which, if you have a latex allergy, you must use with caution. (See Reference 2)
If your mat has a design, you have an easier time placing the proper side down; simply keep the design face up. Your mat may be reversible; if so, place either side up. If both sides look the same, take a closer look to determine which side is smooth and which is bumpy. The smoother, flatter surface goes down and the bumpier up.
Over time, the stickiness of your mat may decrease. The oils from your body or any lotion from your skin gets onto the mat. Instead of rushing to replace your mat, wash it to revive the stickiness. Wet your mat in a bathtub. Use a gentle or dish soap on your hands or washcloth to scrub both sides; rinse off the soap. Place a large towel on the floor, then set your mat on the towel. Roll up the two together and squeeze the mat to remove the excess water. Unroll your mat and hang it over your shower rod or towel rack to dry. (See Reference 3)
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.