Yoga Mat Alternatives: How to Practice Yoga Without a Mat

yoga mat alternatives - how to practice yoga without a mat
The best yoga mat alternatives include grass, sand, and a thick carpet or towel.

If you find yourself in situation where you have to practice yoga at home or while traveling, and you don’t have a mat, are there any yoga mat alternatives that can help you maintain your practice?

Certainly! From the grass in your backyard to a bath towel, you have a few options for replacing your mat. None of these are ideal long-term solutions, so you’ll want to seek out a real mat as soon as possible.

But in times like these, when many people are stuck at home and can’t afford to buy a new mat, these yoga mat substitutes will do in a pinch.

Yoga Mat Alternatives: The Best Options for Practicing Yoga Without a Mat


Pretend you’re back in 1920, and stuff like “PVC,” “TPE,” and “synthetic rubber” hasn’t been invented yet. In that case, your best option for a soft yoga mat substitute would be your own yard or a nearby grassy park.

This option can be good or bad, depending how cushiony your grass is. In the northern part of the U.S., the ground is usually harder, with shorter grass and more potential for mud on your backside when you sit down. In the south, the grass is a bit thicker, but it can also be more dry and prickly.

You can do poses in the grass just like you would on a mat, but the grass can be a bit more slippery, so use caution. Who knows, you may find that after a few sessions outdoors with the sun on your face, you actually prefer the grass!

Carpet / Rug

What if you don’t have a yard? The next option would be the carpet or rugs in your house or hotel room. Often, a nice bushy rug has as much thickness as some of the thin travel yoga mats on the market.

On thick carpet, you should be able to perform just about type of yoga routine without having to make too many modifications. Rugs are more likely to move around and may also have less grip. Hopefully you have some non-slip yoga socks around to prevent any slipping. Or pick up a pair of grippy yoga gloves – those are great for traction!

Other Options for Yoga Mat Substitutes

Okay, suppose you live in an apartment with hardwood floors, and therefore have no yard and no carpet. Now what?!? if you’re in this desperate situation, here are a few options.

Bath Towel / Blanket

Neither of these is ideal, especially if you’ve got hardwood floors. You can imagine sliding all over the place while trying to move your limbs into downward dog position. But a towel or blanket – especially a Mexican yoga blanket – is better than sitting on the hard floor without any kind of yoga mat substitute at all. Especially if you have knee pads to soften the blow on your joints.

So if you’re forced to use a bath towel, stick to hero pose, monkey pose, and other postures that don’t require a lot of lunging. Maybe focus more on breathing and meditation exercises. And then start planning to purchase a real yoga towel!

For additional support and comfort, you may also want to consider getting a pair of yoga shoes. While yoga has traditionally been a barefoot practice, more and more folks are finding that lightweight, form-fitting shoes can make a difference.

what to use instead of yoga mat - substitutes
What can you use instead of a yoga mat? A sandy beach is a great substitute!

The Beach

The beach is the most picturesque place you can possibly do yoga. Holding triangle pose while watching the crashing waves is as good as it gets!

The sand is soft, which means it’ll be easy on your joints. So you can pull off most poses, from tree poses to headstands. The downside of practicing yoga without a mat at the beach is that you’ll get sand on your hands and in just about every other orifice. But you can always shower after!

Your Bed

As a last resort, your bed can be an option. But obviously, standing and lunging poses are a no-go. Choose seated postures, and emphasize breathing and stretching. It won’t be the best yoga routine you’ve ever done, but you can still get some of the benefits of yoga practice.

Using a bed can be a reasonable choice for folks who are traveling and stuck in a hotel. Many hotel floors don’t have enough free space for a full-length yoga mat, so sitting on the bed might be your best option.

Consider Acro Yoga If You Have Partners

Here’s one more option to consider: Acro yoga poses for two or three people! These poses are often done outdoors on the grass, so they don’t require a mat. Acro yoga combines acrobatics and yoga, creating some really cool-looking poses.

3 person poses without mat

You’ll need a lot of strength and balance, but these poses are fun to try. For more, check out our guide to the best 3 person yoga poses.

Which Alternative Will You Choose?

If you choose one of these mat alternatives, or make up one of your own, remember to be careful. Safety is always the most important concern. If it becomes obvious that your surface is too slippery to provide proper balance and grip, don’t take the chance.

Still, doing yoga without a mat is totally possible if you’re committed to it! Remember, yoga mats didn’t exist at all until around 50 years ago, and they didn’t start to get comfortable until the past few decades.

They surely didn’t have mats in India when yoga was invented 5000 years ago, so don’t let your temporary lack of a mat interrupt your practice. Here are some tips if you’re looking to create an at home yoga routine. And here are some motivational quotes about life and self care to encourage you to make yoga a bigger part of your life.

Have you ever practiced yoga without a mat? Do you have suggestions for other yoga mat alternatives?

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