So, you’ve decided to give yoga a try. You look up the class schedule at your local fitness center, choose a time, and you’re all set, right? Well, maybe – but maybe not. Two integral parts of any yoga session may be missing: the yoga mat and towel. So which do you invest in first and which is more important? Let’s take a look at the purpose of each of these yoga accessories so you can be prepared for your first class.
What is the purpose of a yoga mat?
While yoga is often performed in a studio or fitness centre, it’s true that it can be practiced anywhere – from your back porch to the sands of a desert or beach. With that said, why do you need a yoga mat to begin with? People have been practicing yoga for thousands of years and never had a mat, right? While it is true that yoga has been around long before modern day mats accompanied it, today classes are generally held indoors in a studio with hard flooring. Simply put, a mat serves as protection between you and the studio floor.
In a typical yoga class, you’re sometimes balancing on your head, back, forearms or other hard parts of your body. Making bone-to-floor contact can be downright painful, and the cushioning of a yoga mat prevents this. Even worse, you’re going to sweat during your class. And when you mix sweat with a hard floor, a slippery surface is the result. The yoga mat ensures that you’re not slipping and sliding all over the place and potentially tumbling over and getting injured.
Why do you need a yoga towel?
15 minutes into your first session, you’ll quickly discover the purpose of the yoga towel. You’re going to sweat a lot, and the towel helps mop it up. Additionally, a towel can serve as a sanitary barrier between you and the mat – which you might appreciate most if you’re not its sole user.
While there are towels specifically designed for yoga mats – that are sized to fit the mat and are more absorbent of liquids (like your sweat) – a beach towel will do just as well.
So do you buy the towel or mat first?
If you’re taking a class at a fitness center or studio, a mat is an absolute necessity. You likely won’t be allowed to join the class without one. Towels on the other hand can wait. Not everyone uses them, but they can be handy – especially if you’re participating in a hot yoga class where you’ll be sweating buckets.
As a final note, many yoga studios will also rent out/provide yoga mats for new practitioners. If you’re not ready to invest in one yet, then this is an option. However, if you’re going to be using a community mat, be sure to bring a towel. There have likely been dozens of people sweating on it already.
New to yoga and have questions? Give us a call today, and our experienced teachers will be happy to give you the answers you’re looking for.