For years, I practiced yoga without a mat. I usually did my poses on a carpet in the living room or my bedroom and I would spread out a towel for the face down poses such as the child pose you see here. Like DVDs and videos and podcasts, "yoga" mats were not readily available then. Other mats yes, but not the kind that abound in yoga marketplace now. The back cover of my first yoga book, Yoga for Beauty and Health, by Eugene Rawls and Eve Diskin, shows a yoga class of women doing the cobra. Most are stretched out on beach towels. Only a handful are using some rather funky looking mats!
In my opinion, a yoga mat serves three key purposes: 1) to avoid slipping as you stretch; 2) to cushion your body parts (especially neck, back, knees, ankles, and wrists) as you hold certain poses; and 3) to provide a clean barrier between your face and the rest of your body when you are holding a pose face down. Outfitting your home yoga studio or spot with a yoga mat can definitely enhance your practice. The next posting will provide some pointers on what to consider when you invest in a yoga mat.
Wisdom of the Day: The yoga mat is a good place to turn when talk therapy and antidepressants aren't enough. ~Amy Weintraub