Yoga class is supposed to be the place to unload stress and stay in the moment, right? One of the most common roadblocks to yoga bliss is sweaty hands and feet that can’t grip the yoga mat. If you are one of those frustrated yogis who slip and slide on your mat, making it nearly impossible to hold down dog, know that you’re not alone!
Let me offer a few suggestions that might help eliminate this problem. Remember, just as yoga honors the unique abilities and bodies of every practitioner, these suggestions are not a “one size fits all” solution. Hopefully, though, one of these might do the trick.
1. Try any number of no-slip gripper yoga socks or gloves. ToeSox is a popular brand but there are many more to choose from and you can find them anywhere from Kohl’s to Walmart or online.
2. Don’t put lotion on hands or feet for several hours before your class or consider trying a different brand. Lotions react differently on each of us; some absorb differently or “reconstitute” once your soles or palms warm up again. At the very least, the oils may re-activate and create a slippery surface. Usually the gentle or “for sensitive skin” lotions work best for me. I use Cetaphil which has made a big difference. My husband and I can’t use the same lotion. His hands get too slippery for his tennis racket so he uses another brand. It’s an individual thing so try a few different ones.
3. Wash your mat regularly. It’s easy to resort to just the spray provided by the studio--which is great--but you should give the mat a good scrub to break down the oils that may linger even after using a disinfectant cleaning spray. Here is my cleaning method that will keep it clean, fresh, and won't break down the fibers of the mat.
Fill the bottom of the bathtub with warm water. Use a squirt of Dawn dish soap to help break up the oils that might be on the mat, a tablespoon of vinegar which can freshen it up and kill some germs, and a tablespoon or two of baking soda which is a great cleaner. I like to use a drop or two of tea tree oil, too. This can kill viruses. Soak and scrub gently. Another product I’ve used is Dr. Bronner’s Soap with tea tree oil in it. Hang it to dry away from direct sunlight. It may take longer than you think to dry because some mats really hold the water! You don’t want to roll out your mat in class and step on a sponge.
4. Sometimes a microfiber cleaning towel at the top and bottom of your yoga mat is helpful and provides grip and stability for hands and feet. You can use a regular hand towel, sometimes pre-moistened, but make sure it’s not too thick. There are many yoga towels available made especially for hot yoga and many yoga blankets to choose from. Again, these aren’t for everybody but worth a try if other efforts fail. These tend to be somewhat expensive so try other towels before you buy the yoga towel. Occasionally the towel doesn’t work with your mat depending on the type you use. Yoga blankets are an option with or without your mat but again they aren’t for everybody.
5. Change your mat. But try flipping it over on the other side before you buy a new one. Some rubber mats are naturally more slippery so try a mat made specifically for hot yoga, even if you don’t do hot yoga. They are designed to maintain grip in hot and humid conditions. (I have many extra mats for you to try in the studio before you invest in a new mat). Mats are a personal thing. I’ve had many but I always go back to my 25-year-old mat! It’s been with me and stays in great shape-with care-after all these years. It wasn’t anything special, just a basic yoga mat with no brand name. More expensive or exotic brands do not guarantee a mat you’ll love. If you buy a new mat and it doesn’t grip like you’d hoped, try washing it using the recipe above.
6. I have used my yoga strap across my mat to hold my hands in place when I used a slippery rubber mat. This is a good emergency rescue strategy when you find yourself in a slippery situation on a borrowed mat.
7. Use kitchen cupboard non-adhesive rubber liners. You can cut two 12” thick strips and place them on either end of the mat for your hands and feet.
8. I’ve used pieces of an old mat cut in 12” strips across the mat. You can use it for extra padding for the knees as well. When a mat gets worn out in the middle, rather than throw it away, cut it several 12” strips to double up for extra padding and better grip.
These are a few suggestions. Hopefully one of these might be the perfect solution to keep you in your poses longer without sliding around on your mat. If you have any suggestions that have worked for you post in the comments.
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Yoga and meditation teacher since 2003, I love discovering and sharing information about natural health and the mind-body-spirit connection through yoga and mindfulness. Join me and be changed for good!