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Using a yoga mat, would, to most of us, be a matter of necessity. But is this really the case? The yoga mat has developed from the practice originally taking place on grass, then animal skins for cushioning and grip. However, yoga mats as we know them now were invented by Yoga Instructor Angela Farmer in 1967 when she used a piece of foam carpeting underlay to aid her whilst practicing and teaching. The idea was shared with the underlay manufacturer and sprung into life from there.
Great, but is a yoga mat really necessary?
There are arguments for both sides, however it is widely expressed that a yoga mat is by no means compulsory and whether you use one or not is totally your decision. Some people believe the mat’s sticky texture to aid grip could lead to jarred joints and over flexibility without sufficient muscle protection. Because of the grip the mat provides, the leg and arm muscles aren’t having to work so hard to keep you balanced which may feel easier initially, however if muscles supporting joints are not strengthened and maintained, this could leave you more susceptible to injury.
So I shouldn’t use a yoga mat?
It is totally your choice, there are definitely strong benefits of using a yoga mat. Aside from providing a sticky surface so you don’t face plant mid-downward dog, the foam texture cushions and insulates your body when practicing on solid, cold wooden floors, as many of us do. This alleviates any harmful and uncomfortable pressure on knees and spines as well as helps your body regulate it’s temperature to avoid illness and injury. Finally, to many of us yogis our yoga mat is our personal space, whether it be in a class or alone, our yoga mat gives us control over the space we inhabit and keeps others outside of that space for that session. A yoga mat makes us feel ready for the practice, its part of our subconscious ritual. Our choice of design, colour and material expresses us as individuals, much like our home interiors or clothing choices.
The choice is completely that of the individual, yoga mats are not mandatory but can make your yoga experience more comfortable than using the solid wooden floors you’d find most classes are held on. However if you’re not keen on a mat and a home yogi, a carpeted floor will provide cushioning with slightly less grip than a mat, or if you prefer to get back to nature, take a leaf out of our ancestors’ book and use a grassy area for a cushioned outdoor experience.
If you would rather opt in and give yourself an easier and more comfortable yoga experience, be mindful to keep the muscles strong that surround, support and protect your joints with exercise outside the studio to avoid injury. Many yoga mats aren’t up to standard in terms of quality, so do your research to ensure you don’t pay over the odds and you get the right mat for you. With the World’s increased environmental concern, manufacturers are striving to produce their products with eco-friendly materials. Disrupt Sports gives you the creative freedom to design your own eco-friendly yoga mat so you can truly express your individuality at your next class without harming the environment, win win. Even companies can brand their very own yoga mats with Disrupt, with no minimum order companies can jazz up promotional events and giveaways on their terms.
Check out our other yoga-related posts:The Best Yoga Positions for Beginners
The Unwritten Rules of Yoga
The History of Yoga