While the Yoga Mat is probably the most famous piece of Yoga gear in the world, it is far from the only piece of equipment that Yogis have used to help them practice. Today, we will be comparing the traditional Yoga Mat with one of its main competitors, the Yoga Rug.
While there are many similarities between these two pieces of equipment, there are also several differences. By the end of this article yoga mat vs. yoga rug, we hope you will be more informed about these differences and be able to choose the one that suits your needs best.
What is a Yoga Mat?
First, we will start by discussing the more popular option for Yogis around the world, the Yoga Mat.
While Yoga itself is an incredibly ancient art, stretching as far back as 2,700 B.C., the Yoga Mat is actually an incredibly new invention. The Yoga Mat as we know it today has its roots in the 1960s with Angela Farmer. Farmer, who practiced and taught in Germany during the late 1960s, started practicing Yoga on a piece of material to increase grip and absorb pressure during longer classes.
Her father, who lived in England at the time, worked with his daughter to create the first modern Yoga Mat for sale internationally. Since then, Yoga Mats have exploded in popularity, becoming inseparable from Yoga practice in the Western world.
Yoga Mats are actually a relatively simple piece of equipment. Each mat is around an eighth of an inch thick to provide sufficient padding while remaining light enough to carry.
However, what really sets mats apart is the material used to create the mat. A mat can be made of cork, PVC, natural and synthetic rubber, jute, hemp, and many other durable materials. There are hundreds of different kinds of Yoga Mats, so you can be sure that you will find a mat that suits your needs.
What is a Yoga Rug?
While Yoga Mats are more popular today, they are, as mentioned previously, quite a recent invention. In the past, Yoga Rugs were far more popular, and, even today, many Yogis prefer rugs to mats.
Ancient Yogis used rugs, usually made of sheepskin or other animal hides, to practice Yoga. In India, this tradition continued up until the modern-day.
However, in many cases, Yogis did not use any equipment to practice. Many performed Yoga on the bare ground.
Watch this video if you want to find out more about the history of both Yoga Mats and Yoga Rugs.
While Rugs remain popular in many parts of the world, the Western world is only now rediscovering the usefulness of Yoga Rugs compared to Yoga Mats.
Yoga Mat VS Yoga Rug
There are many differences between Yoga Mats and Rugs. You should consider a few of these differences before deciding whether to get a Yoga mat or a rug. Just some of these differences include:
If you find that you are rough with your equipment or practice an intense form of Yoga, durability may be important to you. If so, purchasing a Yoga Rug may be the right decision.
Rugs are traditionally made of materials like sheepskin and cotton, which can take much more punishment than PVC or even rubber. However, certain kinds of mats, such as Cork Mats, can match this durability, so it is not always an obvious choice.
Many Yogis are very concerned about the environment and want their practice to be as sustainable as possible. For Yogis interested in sustainability, Yoga Rugs may be a better option than many mats.
Rugs are usually made from organic materials such as cotton, meaning they are less harmful to the environment and eventually break down. This breakdown does not happen with many mats; usually made from plastics, such as PVC, these mats can take decades to decompose.
This is another advantage of Yoga Rugs. Unlike mats, which need to be washed by hand to avoid damage, you can throw your rug in the washing machine without much issue. This washability makes rugs significantly easier to manage.
Companies design Yoga Mats to stay dry and not absorb sweat. This is not the case with Yoga Rugs, which absorb sweat and other liquids to provide a natural grip. The amount of absorption you want is a matter of preference; if you prefer a dry surface, purchase a mat. However, if you are okay with sweat getting into your rug, get one.
The amount of padding a piece of equipment has is important to many Yogis, especially those recovering from an injury. While this does depend on material and brand, in most cases, you will get more padding from a Yoga Mat than from a rug.
Thicker mats are also more readily available than thicker rugs, making mats with extra padding much easier to find.
One of the key differences that many Yogis notice when they start practicing on a rug is the grip. Or rather, the lack thereof. Yoga mats were designed to provide excellent grip to prevent slips and falls. However, this is not the case with rugs. As such, many Yogis may struggle to adapt to using a rug if they have previously used a mat.
Many Yogis want to avoid coming to contact with potentially harmful materials for extended periods. If you want your practice to be as natural as possible, you should invest in a Yoga Rug made from natural materials like cotton. There are Yoga Mats made from similar fabrics, but they are less common.
If you are interested in preserving the most ancient traditions of Yoga, then you should try to practice on a rug. Yoga mats, as mentioned previously, are a modern invention and, while they have their place, are nowhere near as traditional as rugs.
Yoga Mat VS Yoga Rug. Which Is Better?
Yoga Mats and Yoga Rugs both have their place. Asking ‘which is better?’ is the wrong question. Instead, you need to find which suits your needs better using some of the factors we discussed above.
When might a Yoga Mat be a better option? If you are new to Yoga, struggle with lingering injuries, or need more grip, you should get a Yoga Mat. Mats provide more grip, and cushioning, and are overall more beginner-friendly.
However, if you are looking for a new challenge, or worry about your environmental impact, you should look into getting a Yoga Rug. If you are also interested in preserving the most ancient traditions of Yoga, purchasing a Rug is also a great option.
How to Use Yoga Mats and Yoga Rugs Together?
While we have been comparing Yoga Mats and Yoga Rugs in this article, there is no reason you cannot use both in your Yoga practice.
For example, you can practice on one for a specific day or set of poses. Perhaps you struggle with inverted poses and need to develop the muscles used in these poses. In this scenario, you should use a Yoga Mat. However, if you find standing poses, like Warrior 1, to be too easy, you can challenge yourself by trying to do these poses on a Rug.
Finally, if you go to a Hot or Bikram Yoga class, bringing both a Mat and Rug might be a good idea. The mat will help you stay stable at the start of the session, while the rug will absorb your sweat.
There are many differences between Yoga Mats and Yoga Rugs. Even so, both of them have their place in Yoga and make an excellent addition to anyone’s practice. While Rugs are older, they still have many benefits, especially for Yogis that want to challenge themselves. Mats are, of course, better for beginners, which is one of the many reasons they have become associated with Yoga as it grows in popularity.
If you have any questions or other pieces of equipment you love, let us know in the comments below.