It wasn’t until I joined a yoga class that I realised yoga towels were a thing.
Up until that point my practice was based at home. I love doing the classes on Adriene Mishler’s yoga channel and I didn’t notice her using a towel in her videos apart from as extra support during poses.
What are yoga towels?
When placed over a mat, the primary use of a yoga towel is to stop slippage and absorb moisture during your practice.
Yoga towels usually have a grippy underside that gets grippier when wet. Some have corner pockets to allow you to hook your towel over your mat.
Is a yoga towel necessary?
You might think that yoga towels are all about comfort, but in reality, they can make your practice much safer by preventing you from slipping around on your mat.
Yoga towels can also protect you from catching bugs from a dirty yoga mat, and lastly, they can save you money by helping your mat last longer.
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Why do you need a yoga towel on your mat? – 10 reasons
1. Absorbs sweat
Yoga towels are made to absorb moisture. If you are new to yoga, know that yoga practice isn’t just about relaxing stretches.
Yes, you will feel relaxed and your body will feel calm and more balanced. But, during the class, you might well find your heart rate going up along with your body temperature, which leads to sweat and ultimately slippage on the mat.
If you are doing a hot yoga class then there will be a lot of moisture involved both from you and the general humidity of the room. As the class goes on the more slippery your yoga mat will become. Poses will be difficult to hold and the whole experience will be a bit messy!
2. Stops slippage
Yoga towels will stop you from slipping around on your mat. As I said, they are designed to absorb water. But that is not the only purpose. Once they become damp they will grip your mat even more due to the stippled underside.
3. Stops the spread of bacteria
Yoga mats can be a breeding ground for all sorts of nasties that could cause warts, ringworm, athlete’s foot, viruses and more horrible things. This is made worse if you use a shared mat in a public class. You can protect yourself by using your own clean yoga towel over the top of the mat.
4. Protects your yoga mat
Yoga mats are generally more expensive than yoga towels. With a yoga towel over your mat, you will protect it from wear and tear.
5. Cleaner – much easier to wash than a mat
Usually, yoga towels can be washed along with your normal laundry. Mats are considerably more difficult to clean properly and they take a while to dry.
6. Allows you to use a public mat in a studio
Using a shared yoga mat without a towel can be a potential health risk through catching bugs living on it. Some studios stipulate that you must use a towel over the top of their mats.
7. Provides extra padding/cushioning
A good yoga mat will provide you with good cushioning, but if you need more, a yoga towel is a perfect addition.
8. Can be used on its own
If you don’t have the space to carry a yoga mat, you could use your towel on its own. If you think you might regularly do this choose a thicker yoga towel.
9. Can be used as a beach towel
If you give up yoga practice or want to make the most of your investment yoga towels make very good beach towels too.
10. Convenient for travel
If you don’t have space for a yoga mat in your luggage or you need to travel light to your yoga class, yoga towels are your answer.
Why do you lose grip on a yoga mat?
A combination of factors can make your mat slip around and cause you discomfort in your yoga practice. Your level of fitness, the type of practice, the weather and your general health can all play their part in how much you slip around on your yoga mat.
Adding a yoga towel can make all the difference to your quality of practice because the underside of the mat is ‘sweat activated’ which means that as soon as it becomes damp it grips to your mat.
How to use a yoga towel
- Spray with water. Yoga towels grip better when wet. To get a head start lightly spray your mat with water.
- Lay over your mat. Place your clean yoga towel flat over the top of the mat so that it covers it completely.
Can you use a regular towel instead?
A regular towel can be used instead of a yoga towel but you will probably find that it will slip around the mat and bunch up making your practice uncomfortable.
Yoga towels tend to come in sizes to suit standard yoga mats so that they can cover the whole mat. Your regular cotton towel will be most likely be of the wrong size.
Is a yoga towel absolutely necessary?
There are a few conditions where a yoga mat on its own is perfectly fine.
- You don’t need to share your mat with anyone else.
- You don’t sweat much during your practice.
- You can keep your yoga mat clean.
Can you use a yoga towel without a mat?
Yoga towels work best paired with a yoga mat, but if you are stuck without a mat or don’t have the space to take a yoga mat to a class then you can certainly get away with using just a yoga towel for your practice.
If you think you might want to use your yoga towel on its own regularly consider buying a thicker one with a little more cushioning.
Towels can actually be a better option than a mat when the surface is uneven. Mats don’t tend to work too well on bumpy ground like grass or sand.