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Looking for a Substitute for a Yoga Mat? Try These 7 Options

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a woman in sportswear is holding a yoga mat on her shoulder_substitute for yoga mat
Elyce Neuhauser post Reviewer Elyce Neuhauser post Reviewer
Verified by Elyce Neuhauser
Yoga Expert, E-RYT 500, Certified Meditation Coach

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If you are looking for a substitute for a yoga mat, you have come to the right place. 

The modern yoga mat was invented less than fifty years ago and dramatically changed the course of yoga practice. Nowadays, it seems you need a lot of specific things to do yoga, including special mats designed just for yoga. However, is it still possible to do yoga without a mat? 

What’s So Special About a Yoga Mat?

 The most effective yoga mats offer the following qualities:

  • Friction. A yoga mat, sometimes called a sticky mat, provides stability by preventing slippage. This is especially important for those who practice more dynamic types of yoga, which tend to create sweaty palms and feet. 
  • Cushioning. Hard surfaces can be harsh on the joints, especially the knees and wrists. Cushioning is a must for kneeling asanas and some arm balances
  • Dedicated practice space. Rolling out your mat is a ritual that creates a safe practice space and defines your boundaries.
  • Good hygiene. For many people, their yoga mat is a barrier between themselves and the floor. Doing yoga on your own mat allows you to stay clean no matter where you practice. 

What Can You Use Instead of a Yoga Mat? 7 Alternatives

There are no hard and fast rules on how to structure your personal yoga practice, so why not practice yoga without a mat?

These seven options will show you that even without a traditional mat you can still have a quality practice. Use YogaGo, a comprehensive yoga app, for guidance, so you can customize your practice in the comfort of your own home.

substitute for yoga mat_7 options, beach towel, mexican blanket, grass, floors, rugs, carpeting, and chairs

Beach Towels

An ordinary beach towel is one of the most accessible yoga mat alternatives. Beach towels are larger than regular bath towels and ample enough for a yoga practice. 

They are lightweight, easy to clean, and portable – perfect as a makeshift yoga mat. Take a beach towel with you when you travel, so that you can keep up with your practice anywhere you go. Simply toss it in the laundry when it needs to be cleaned.

Beach towels have moisture-wicking properties. Although they absorb sweat, be sure to place your towel on a non-slip surface, like sand or vinyl tiles, to avoid slipping. 

Mexican Blankets

Mexican blankets are colorful woven blankets that are also known as sarapes or falsa blankets.

In addition to their vibrant designs, Mexican blankets are incredibly versatile – throw one on as a shawl or makeshift poncho, or use one as an alternative to a yoga mat.

These blankets are typically woven out of natural materials, such as wool, cotton, hemp, or agave fibers. Thanks to their texture and absorbency, they can be used in a variety of ways to supplement a yoga practice. 

Use a Mexican blanket as a yoga mat replacement or a prop. A rolled-up blanket can function as a yoga block or bolster; place one under the knees to cushion the joints. 

It will also keep you warm in restorative postures like Corpse Pose (Savasana) or Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani).


Centuries before sticky mats came into existence, yogis would practice on grasses or animal skins. These yoga mat alternatives can be found in early illustrations of yoga and are mentioned in ancient yogic texts.

These days, Kundalini practitioners are not the only ones who choose sheepskin rugs as alternatives for their yoga mats. A cozy rug can simultaneously act as a non-slip surface for your yoga practice while creating a cushy decorative accent in your home.

Alternatively, a woven rug made of natural fibers, such as hemp or hessian (a dense, woven fabric), is another great option for a yoga mat. Not only is this alternative accessible and affordable, it is durable and eco-friendly as well.


Wall-to-wall carpet is another great yoga mat substitute as it provides sufficient friction and cushioning for any style of yoga. Plush carpeting also offers the perfect soft landing in case you lose your balance.


Can you do yoga without a mat substitute? Before yoga mats were invented, practicing on bare ground was fairly standard. 

When practicing on bare floors, the key is to adapt the practice to that specific surface to keep yourself safe. Many seated poses and lower body stretches, or simple standing postures such as Mountain Pose (Tadasana) or Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana), can be safely performed on a bare floor. 


The outdoor alternative substitute for a yoga mat is grass. Ancient yogis often practiced on firm ground or kusha grass. [1]

If you want to enjoy yoga in the great outdoors, choose a grassy outdoor spot with flat, even ground, such as your own backyard or a local park. Grass is a great surface for backbends and heart openers


Chairs are used in adaptive yoga practices that modify poses for those with chronic pain, injuries, or conditions that hinder them from getting up and down on the ground.

Using a chair instead of a yoga mat can not only make your practice more accessible, but it can also maximize a small space. Any standard kitchen or desk chair will work, and there are even variations designed especially for chair yoga practices. 


Different styles of yoga require different types of surfaces to practice on, and a mat is not the only option. Some yogis might not need the “stickiness” that modern-day mats have to offer, while others need extra cushioning as padding for tender joints. If you are wondering what to use if you don’t have a yoga mat, look around wherever you are, as there are plenty of options right at your feet.

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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