A tractionless yoga mat is an accident waiting to happen. On some surfaces, it’s only a matter of time before the mat skates out from underneath you, giving you a fast track to a hard knock on the ground. So, buying a yoga mat that offers the best traction for the surface you’re working on is essential.
Otherwise, you might end up with a new crop of bruises after each session. Since that’s not ideal, let’s take a look at the reasons behind your migrating yoga mat and how to fix it.
What Are Yoga Mats Made Of?
Most standard yoga mats available on the market today are composed of polyvinyl chloride, aka PVC (also called vinyl). You can also find rubber mats, polymer environmental resin (PER), and thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) mats, but they’re usually made of PVC.
Some manufacturers offer more environmentally-friendly options composed of things like natural and recycled rubber, organic cotton, natural cotton, or jute.
Why Are New Yoga Mats Slippery?
Perhaps you just bought a brand new yoga mat and are excited to try it out. The packaging might boast excellent traction or a non-slip surface, so you feel optimistic. However, once you start your yoga session, you notice the mat moves around quite a bit.
The non-slip surface is more slippery than you’d like, and it might feel like you’re going to fall when you use it. So, why is this brand new, supposedly non-slip mat slippery?
The reasoning behind the slippery coating usually falls on the manufacturing process. Many manufacturers coat the mold used to make the mat with a thin surface film. This helps the mat release from the mold after production and prevents it from sticking to itself when it’s rolled up for transit and storage.
The issue is less common with rubber and TPE mats, but it can happen. If you have a PVC mat, you might notice this issue.
Think of it like a new pair of running shoes: they’re usually uncomfortable until you break them in. The same general concept applies to yoga mats – they often require some breaking in before they work perfectly.
How Do You Break In A Yoga Mat?
Breaking in a yoga mat to achieve the desired result isn’t a tricky task, but it might take a little while. Let’s build on the same analogy we used above – you have to wear your new shoes a few times for a while before they’re comfortable. This is true for yoga mats as well.
One of the best ways to break in your mat is to use it. This method takes a while, especially if you don’t practice yoga regularly. Try to use the mat every time you practice yoga, even if you’re just doing a quick stretch.
Using it will help wear off the coating from the manufacturing process, allowing it to grip the floor better. Eventually, the mat should offer solid traction, although it depends on the mat in question.
Leave It Rolled Out
In some scenarios, practicing on the mat might not cut it, especially if you do yoga every once in a while. You can speed up the breaking-in process by leaving it out for a day or two. Keep it rolled out on the floor in a busy place in your home.
Of course, you need to be careful not to slip on it, so don’t place it on a slippery surface where it skates around. As you and your family move around in the space, the extra foot traffic will help break in the mat for use.
After a full day or two, wipe down the mat before putting it away (especially if you have kids who frequently run around inside and out without shoes).
Clean The Mat
Another way to speed up the process is by cleaning the mat. Mild cleaners can help break down the thin film coating, giving the mat a stickier surface. Use a mild organic detergent or a mat cleaner with warm water and a non-abrasive sponge to wipe down the mat.
Ensure you wait until the mat is completely dry before rolling it back up.
Some yoga mats, such as thin travel mats and sticky mats, can be machine washed. Double-check with the brand before you pop it in the washing machine, but you might be able to speed up the break-in process. Avoid using regular soap. Instead, run a quick cycle without soap, then air dry the mat before putting it away.
Use A Salt Scrub
A salt scrub can be an excellent method to achieve a less-slippery mat, but it isn’t suitable for all mats. Before you use a salt scrub, check with the manufacturer. Salt can break down certain mat materials, so be sure to check with the brand. If you get a green light, sprinkle sea salt on your mat and give it a good scrub with a saturated cloth.
Massage the salt into the surface to remove the thin coating left behind from the manufacturing process. The salt scrub can mimic the progress you’d see after a few days of practicing on the mat.
After you scrub the salt into the mat, wipe away the residue with a clean, damp cloth. Allow the mat to dry completely before putting away your yoga mat.
While it isn’t recommended for all mat materials, you might be able to use vinegar to get rid of the thin coating. Before you try this, make sure to check with the manufacturer. Since you’re using an acid, diluting the vinegar before applying it to the mat is best.
Dilute vinegar with water, then wipe the surface of the mat with the solution. Use a clean cloth to clean up the residue, then let it dry completely.
Use A Towel
In some scenarios, the mat might not be the problem. If you find yourself slipping on the mat after trying the above methods, consider trying chalk or a towel. Apply chalk to your hands before you practice, or lay out a towel where you place your hands/feet.
Some folks sweat more than others (especially in hot yoga), which can make the mat slippery. Or, if you apply moisturizer before practicing, it could be the oils from the moisturizer causing you to slip. If that’s the case, try to avoid using a moisturizer before yoga to see if that helps.
If your feet slip when you try yoga, try practicing with bare feet (if you don’t already). Alternatively, consider investing in a unique pair of non-slip yoga socks. These socks have a non-slip surface on the sole of the sock that gives you the added traction you need.
Invest In A New Mat
Sometimes, the mat itself might be the problem. If you just bought the mat, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’ve had it for a while, this could be the culprit. Consider investing in a new yoga mat, like one with performance dry-grip features.
What Should I Avoid Doing To Correct A Slippery Yoga Mat?
While there are plenty of methods out there to correct a slippery yoga mat, there are a few methods you should avoid. Some of these shortcuts can damage your mat, sometimes even breaking down the materials in the mat.
Here’s what to avoid:
- Using harsh chemicals: While you might be tempted to reach for a harsh chemical cocktail to blaze through the thin film, it’s usually a bad idea. Although the chemical will probably break down the film, it might also break down the mat underneath. This can lead to significant damage and discoloration. If you want to use a chemical, make sure the manufacturer approves it for use on the mat.
Using sandpaper or wire brushes: Again, you might be tempted to take the fast track to a broken-in mat, but doing it this way can damage the mat. The film on most yoga mats is thin and will wear away after lighter methods, so using sandpaper and wire brushes to scrape it away could cut into the actual mat, not just the filmy surface.