Discover How Your Yoga Mat Can Improve Your Strength
And you’re finally ready to nail that Wheel Pose. Your arms feel like jelly, but you’re ready to give it a go. On the teacher’s mark, you push and rise seamlessly into the sky. You can’t help but smile; man, this feels good! We work diligently to cultivate strength and grace in our yoga practice. And often, there’s an underutilized tool we can use to help build more strength - our yoga mat. If you’re looking for the best yoga mat to help you build strength, stay with us because we’re talking all about it.
How a yoga mat can help you build strength
As the most crucial piece of your practice, a good yoga mat can be more than just a soft surface. If you’re willing to invest in yourself and your mat, it can also be a powerful tool to help build strength and deepen your practice. The best yoga mat will encourage you to cultivate your own physical strength rather than using sticky plastic to hold you up with friction. Because of this, we have to look at the different types of mats to assess which is best for building strength.
Different types of yoga mats
If you want your mat to help you build strength, you may need to rethink what is actually in your yoga mat. Most yoga mats are made with some form of plastic, which may help your grip, but ultimately weakens your strength and alignment. With plastic mats, you’re able to rely on the friction between your hands and the plastic to hold you up. Because of this, you’re often not integrating the pivotal muscles that the pose requires.
If you want a mat that truly nourishes your innate strength, it may be best to opt for a cotton yoga rug instead. The natural grip level of loomed cotton yoga mats is much more effective for building strength than a plastic mat. When you use a cotton yoga mat, you engage your core and activate more of your muscles rather than relying on friction. If practiced with dedication, this can help lead to improved strength, balance, and alignment.
Telltale signs you need to switch to a cotton yoga mat
Maybe you’ve been practicing for years on a plastic mat and you’re ready to take your practice to the next level. Or maybe, you’re brand new to yoga and want to ensure you’re doing it correctly. Whatever your reasoning, a cotton yoga rug can be an exciting and nourishing switch for your yoga practice. Here are some telltale signs that you might be ready to switch to a cotton yoga mat.
You slip when you sweat on your mat.
You often feel shoulder or wrist pain in Downward Facing Dog. (This is a sign that you’re dumping too much weight into your arms.)
You suffer from hyperextension during your practice.
You’re looking to connect more with the traditional roots of the yoga practice. (Hint - ancient yogis' mats were made with cotton!)
You often feel pain when taking positions on your hands and knees in yoga, like the floor is too hard.
Sacroiliac pain or hyperextension in your arms. This is a sign that you’re developing hyper-mobility, which could be detrimental to your joints!
You like to live sustainably and know plastic mats are not.
Benefits of a cotton yoga mat
1. Increased strength
Instead of relying on a sticky, plastic surface to keep you up, a cotton yoga mat encourages your innate strength with its natural grip level. Because of this, when you do poses on a cotton yoga mat, you’re utilizing the core muscles you’re meant to in the posture, unlike plastic yoga mats that use unnatural friction to keep you up.
2. Less injury
A yoga rug can also lead to fewer injuries compared to plastic yoga mats. Because the grip level increases muscle engagement your core, arm and leg muscles will hold you in place vs your ligaments and tendons. This reduces the risk of hyperextension. Hyperextension is an injury that occurs when a joint is extended beyond its normal range of motion and can be common in yoga poses that involve balance and stability. A yoga rug's grip is also sweat activated so it never slips when wet. Slipping an be a huge problem and lead to injury on plastic mats if you sweat or do hot yoga.
3. Better alignment
The unique horizontal grip strips on the Öko Living yoga rug provides additional grip and stability, aligning the feet and hands making it easier to maintain proper alignment and reducing the risk of injury. This stability enables practitioners to engage their muscles more effectively, resulting in better alignment and more controlled practice.
4. Increased sense of well-being
If you’re like most yogis, you value natural wellness. A cotton yoga mat is 100% natural and doesn’t contain toxic PVC like most plastic mats. Even on a subconscious level, connecting and touching natural fibers like cotton is innately soothing to the nervous system, not like plastic. The medicinal herbal dye in the mat were formulated by an Ayurvedic Doctor to sooth the skin and relax the mind. Herbs like Turmeric, Neem and Holy Basil have potent healing powers. Instead of absorbing small amount of chemicals that add to our toxic load your skin will be exposed to small amounts of body boosting wellness properties.
4. Greater peace of mind
When you know your yoga mat is a safe space, you feel more at peace. Plus, knowing your mat is totally biodegradable and made from natural fibers gives you peace of mind knowing you’ve made the most sustainable choice as a yogi.
Not only are yoga rugs better for helping you build strength in your yoga practice, but they're also a more traditional, eco-friendly addition to your yoga practice!