✅ Fact Checked
🧘 If you only got 30 seconds:
While a yoga mat will offer you cushion and traction during your practice, you can absolutely do yoga without a yoga mat. In fact, practicing yoga without a mat can be a liberating experience that allows you to dive into your flow whenever and wherever you want. Plus, you’ll likely notice your muscles work harder without the help of a sticky mat.
1/3 Is a yoga mat necessary for yoga?
A yoga mat is a piece of yoga equipment that will provide you with a stable, non-slip surface and lower your risk of falling out of the pose and injuring yourself as a result.
But is a yoga mat really necessary for yoga? Definitely no! The only thing necessary to start practicing yoga is your body.
However, practicing on a yoga mat is still recommended for yoga beginners or those who practice intense and fast yoga styles.
Wondering why you need a yoga mat for yoga? My top reasons for using a yoga mat are padding and traction. A sticky surface of a yoga mat offers you the safety that you won’t find your hands slipping in Downward Dog the moment you break a sweat. Plus, if you have sensitive or sore knees and wrists, it’s more comfortable to practice on a cushioned yet stable surface of a yoga mat.
Even so, not using a yoga mat also has a lot of advantages. Whether you’re trying to live more sustainably or the funky smell of modern yoga mats gives you a headache, doing yoga without a mat is a truly liberating experience.
Check out the summary of all pros and cons of doing yoga without a mat in the table below.
|Yoga without a mat – PROS
|Yoga without a mat – CONS
|good for your budget
|no traction that can cause slipping
|less distractions – no mat stretching or bunching during yoga poses
|hard on joints
|no funky smells
|no defined space, especially if you’re practicing in a crowded space
|helps improve core engagements and build grip strength
|no insulation if you practice during the colder months or on a cold surface
|liberating – you can do yoga anywhere and anytime
|lack of alignment cues
My Favorite Yoga Gear Essentials
I’m picky about my yoga gear
I’m ready to blow some cash on high-quality ethically-made items that are eco-friendly and built to last 🌱 It supports my efforts for sustainable yoga practice and lifestyle.
2/3 Is it bad to do yoga without a mat?
No, it’s not bad to do yoga without a mat. If not having a yoga mat makes you postpone starting your yoga practice or makes you skip a class, you should definitely forget about all the conventional rules about yoga and “go matless”! I’d even dare to say that “going matless” can be as safe as using a mat for yoga if you take extra precautions.
Doing yoga without a mat gives you the flexibility to practice yoga on the go: while traveling or when you’re taking a lunch break at work. Besides, there’s nothing better than skipping a yoga mat when practicing outside. Doing yoga poses barefoot on grass or sand is a great way to ground and connect with nature. Plus, nature offers the best padding for your knees and elbows.
On top of that, doing yoga without a sticky yoga mat will make your muscles work much harder:
- Your core will have to work double to keep you stable in Downward Dog and transitions from Down Dog
- Your grip strength will improve as you flow between poses without the help of a sticky surface
- Your legs will activate more in standing poses to keep you supported.
Nonetheless, take notice of how you feel during your yoga practice without a mat. If an occasional slip of the hand in Downward Dog makes you feel unsafe in a yoga pose or causes irritation or if your knees and ribs ache after the yoga practice, you should consider investing in a good yoga mat for your regular yoga classes.
3/3 What can you use as a yoga mat if you don’t have one?
If you don’t have a yoga mat, no worries. There are plenty of household items you can use as an alternative to a yoga mat – I’ve listed 7. Naturally, these yoga mat alternatives will have certain limitations, which I will mention in the Pros and Cons tables below.
Use a carpet as an alternative to your yoga mat
You can do yoga on a carpet in your living room or a bedroom. A carpet will be a great yoga mat substitute for slow, grounding practices that don’t involve fast transitions and balancing postures.
|Yoga on a carpet – PROS
|Yoga on a carpet – CONS
|Living room carpets are often super heavy or lined with rubber on the bottom so they don’t slide on the floor, offering you a stable surface to practice
|Poor grip, which increases the risk of slipping
|Good insulation for winter yoga practice
|Can cause skin irritation due to constant fraction during yoga transitions
|Sufficient cushion for sensitive joints
|Not very hygienic especially if you constantly walk on it; can be dusty and cause irritation
|Activates your muscles better than a sticky yoga mat
|Too squishy for balancing postures
|You’re not limited by a small rectangular yoga mat so you have more space for exploration
Practice yoga on a bed
Starting or finishing your day with calming yoga in bed can be a great way to build a habit and create a self-care ritual. However, using a bed as an alternative to a yoga mat might not be the best long-term solution if you want to explore the full spectrum of physical benefits of yoga.
|Yoga on a bed – PROS
|Yoga on a bed – CONS
|Easy on sensitive joints
|The bed surface is simply unstable enough for most yoga poses
|A great way to start and end your day
|Might be easy to fall asleep in relaxing yoga poses such as Savasana
|Good for people who have absolutely no floor space
|Not a good long-term solution for your yoga practice
Beach towel or yoga microfiber towel as an alternative to a yoga mat
Beach towels or special yoga towels made of microfiber can be a great occasional alternative to a yoga mat, especially if you’re traveling and need something lightweight and portable. While originally intended to be used on a yoga mat, they can also offer a clean and grippy surface even when used without a yoga mat.
|Yoga on a beach towel – PROS
|Yoga on a beach towel – CONS
|Offers a clean, hygienic surface to practice on
|Too light to stay in place, will slide on smooth surfaces
|A good solution for hot yoga since they absorb sweat and increase grip
|Wrinkles and bunches up during transitions, causing distractions
|Easy to clean after every class
|Offer almost no cushion for sensitive joints and spine
|Not great for an outdoor windy practice
Use a woven blanket for your yoga practice
Yoga blankets are one of the best props for relaxing and restorative yoga flows that focus on seated stretching and very gentle movement. Plus, a yoga blanket will keep your joints happy and your body warm when you transition from yoga to meditation.
|Yoga on a woven blanket – PROS
|Yoga on a woven blanket – CONS
|adequate cushion for spine and joints
|unstable surface – blankets will slide and bunch during movement
|good insulation for winter yoga practice and hygienic surface to practice on
|poor grip and traction, which increase the risk of injury
|blankets allow for a smooth transition from yoga to meditation
|a folded blanket can be too squishy for balancing poses
Do yoga on a cotton rug
Yoga rugs made of cotton or organic cotton are also sometimes called Mysore rugs. Cotton rugs have been used for yoga for ages. Even Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga who taught the famous Sri K Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar has used yoga rugs in his own yoga practice.
|Yoga on a cotton rug – PROS
|Yoga on a cotton rug – CONS
|No funky yoga mat smell
|Average grip, which makes the practice more challenging, especially for beginners
|Easy to transition between poses, especially when your feet have to slide
|Can wrinkle and bundle up during transitions
|Builds grip strength and activates muscles in poses
|Expensive – while yoga rugs are an upfront investment and will last you for years, they can be really pricey
|Good for insulation and sweat absorption
|Might not provide enough cushion for very sensitive joints
|Better for the environment than an average microfiber yoga towel or a plastic yoga mat
Grippy socks and gloves to replace a yoga mat
Grippy yoga socks can be a great alternative to a traditional yoga mat. Pair them with grippy gloves and you will be able to do yoga anywhere without compromising your safety in yoga poses.
|Yoga in grippy socks – PROS
|Yoga in grippy socks – CONS
|grippy socks and gloves offer stability and confidence in yoga poses; they won’t slip on smooth surfaces such as tile or wood, which means you also have a lower risk of injury
|no cushion for joints
|portable and lightweight – you can take them to practice anywhere and anytime
|lack of insulation for your body during cold months
|easy to clean
|might feel too hot during summer or in a tropical climate
Practice yoga outside on a grass/sand
If the weather allows, I strongly suggest taking your yoga practice outside: park, beach, your backyard – anything will do. Not only grass and sand will provide a good cushion for your joints, but also you’ll likely feel more grounded and relaxed after your practice.
|Yoga outdoors – PROS
|Yoga outdoors – CONS
|adequate cushion for sensitive joints
|not very hygienic and can result in bug bites
|plenty of space for yoga fun
|lack of grip and traction in some yoga poses
|build grip strength and improve core activation
|on sunny days, you need to wear sunscreen and yoga wear that will protect your legs from UV
|a lovely way to connect with nature and ground yourself in times of stress
|unless you do yoga in your backyard, you won’t get much privacy when practicing on a beach or in a park
|nature sounds can be very calming and soothing for the nervous system
|subject to seasons and weather conditions
Yoga Deals & Discount Codes
Brands I use and love
Here’s a collection of companies and brands I’ve tried and loved ❤️ I’ve grouped them into 4 categories. The brands in each category are sorted alphabetically and include a: short about/best for info, link to my full review, and a discount code (if available).
Can you do yoga without getting on the floor?
If none of the yoga mat alternatives really work for you, you can still practice yoga and reap the benefits.
Enter – standing yoga. Standing yoga is a great way to build strength and improve balance without getting on a floor. You need almost no space for it and you don’t need a mat or any other yoga props to practice it. Standing yoga flows are also wrist-free most of the time and will challenge your flexibility and endurance while keeping you safe.
Go ahead and check out this short standing yoga sequence for strength and balance that you can practice anytime, anywhere. No mat is required!