“I can’t do yoga, because I don’t have a yoga mat.”

Few yoga students will admit it, but this thought has crossed every practitioner’s mind, regardless their experience and type of yoga that they practice. Sadly, I even personally know people who indefinitely postponed learning yoga because they did not feel they could invest in the right equipment, as many popular yoga mats come with a heavy price tag.

I am, myself, no exception. I gave in to this popular excuse many times when I travelled, until I fully understood, that the only “thing” that I really need for my asana yoga practice is my own body and a strong desire to do it. And I mean really just that, as I truly believe that to start practicing, you don’t necessarily need neither a yoga teacher (especially with so many amazing online yoga classes available), nor a yoga mat and, forgive me Instagrammers, not even dedicated yoga pants. You just need yourself.

Having the right yoga mat is, without a doubt, very important, and can make your practice much easier. It gives stability and safety for certain positions, softens the surface and gives a necessary grip. It also creates a dedicated yoga space, that belongs just to you when your practice. It can become your personal mini ashram, even if your house is just five sqm big.

The ancient yogis did not have the luxury of fancy yoga mats and it didn’t stop them from practicing. While this should not be used as an argument against the use of yoga mats alltogether (not all modern comforts are evil!), you can try to use it as a motivation to continue or to start your practice, even if a yoga mat is not available.

(check out this wonderful short class without a yoga mat by Bad Yogi for your inspiration):

Because of the nature of my work and my family life I happen to move around a lot, and I normally spend a few months in different houses throughout a year. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to carry my yoga mat, even though I have a special lightweight travel yoga mat, too ( this is an affiliate link to my travel mat, but at home I practice on a simple cotton rug).

Since I’ve become a mother last year, my practice has changed altogether and if I had to practice only when I could roll out my mat, Iikely I wouldn’t be able to practice at all.

Due to my current lifestyle, I had to discover ways to practice without a mat, using all the time and space I can. Unintentionally, I mastered this art: no mat yoga.

Here is the sum of my experience, and what helped me the most to stick to my regular practice, regardless if I have a mat or not.

1. Stick to standing poses

Most discomfort in practice without a yoga mat is caused because of touching a cold/dirty/slippery/simply unpleasant surface. The easiest way to fix it is to stick to asanas on your feet. It includes poses like trikonasana (triangle pose), virabhadrasana (warrior pose), etc. Even if your practice might feel incomplete this way, try not to think about it that way: a shorter practice is better than no practice.

2. Don’t be too rigid with your practice

Most yoga practitioners at the beginning of their journey follow a pre-defined yoga routine, the same sequence each day (and it’s highly advised to do so, that’s exactly why I started my practice with Ashtanga yoga). It is, however, very useful to create an ability to adjust your routine according to circumstances and immediate environment. It is, in fact, the key to sticking to your practice daily. In other words, if you have to modify your practice and can’t do certain asanas that you usually do, just let it be. Accept your environment and do what you can.

3. Create your own sequence in advance

If changing your practice routine on the go is not easy, you can put together your own sequence in advance. Just spend some time understanding which asanas you feel comfortable doing without a mat, put them in order that works for you and keep it – in written or in your head – for the days when the mat is hot available. In this case you will not need to spend energy on thinking what should be done next, and it will be much easier to follow through.

4. Find a good surface

The type of surface on which you practice matters. Some sources suggest that ancient yogis used to practice on the grass, and later on animal skins, to improve the grip. I find stone surfaces to be some of the worst for my practice because they are usually either too cold or too hot, and tiles or marble/granite floors are very slippery. Putting a blanket on top rarely solves the problem, because it slips even more. I enjoy, however, to practice on smooth wooden surfaces and on grass. I don’t find It slippery and enjoy the touch of natural materials. The only downside is that your hands and clothes might become a little dirty, but thankfully there is water and soap available to solve this issue!

5. Take help of the wall

In many asanas floor is playing a function of support to align you body. When you do a downward dog, for example, pushing your body up with the force of your palms helps to stretch and lengthen the spine. A similar effect can be achieved with the use of the wall, like in Uttana Shishisana (puppy pose): check out these two variations of the same post, demonstrated by yoga practitioners:



View this post on Instagram









A post shared by Elis_liu (@elisabethlaurens) on



View this post on Instagram









A post shared by Anetka Šámalová (@anetka_zdrava_krasna) on

6. Protect the sensitive parts of your body

The biggest challenges of practice without a mat come because of your body contact with unpleasant surfaces. Wearing long leggings and a sleeved shirt can protect your body to a certain extent, at least your elbows and knees, from touching hard and cold floors.

7. Try sitting savasana

One of the crucial asanas that require a mat for its comfortable execution is Savasana. Surely, if you have to lie down on a cold and dirty floor, it will be difficult to relax all parts of your body and keep your mind away from the worldly worries. Yet, full relaxation at the end of each practice is absolutely crucial. Luckily, there is a way around it: try to do “sitting” savasana – use a chair or a folded blanket, or a pillow. It might feel strange at first, but the end result will be all the same.

8. Keep your focus longer than usual

You can also turn a temporary absence of yoga mat to your advantage. Mostly, you will not be able to practice all asanas that you normally do. You might think that this will create a problem and will shorten your usual practice, but this part is entirely up to you. When for some reason I’m not able to do my regular asanas, but I have the same amount of time, I will hold the asanas that I CAN do longer than normally. In other words, I use it as an opportunity to make fewer asanas, but to go deeper in them and create a deeper focus. Some variations of the same pose, that can help you go deeper and improve the alignment, are also a great idea.

9. Get inspiration from other practitioners

Pictures are better than thousand words, stake a look of how these inspiring yoga practitioners practice without a mat, and do it successfully:

Practicing yoga without a mat is rather a temporary solution, but it can give you a great flexibility and help you stick to your regular practice wherever, and whenever you are. Absence of mat should not prevent you from doing yoga if you travel, or waiting for your perfect mat delivery. Eventually, of course, you will need to find your perfect yoga mat, that will make your practice comfortable and enjoyable. But if you are not there yet, just keep practicing, and with a mat or without, you’ll be able to rip the benefits of having yoga in your daily life.