What is a yoga mat towel used for?
A yoga mat towel is a towel specifically designed to be used on top of a yoga mat to:
- Absorb sweat
- Hygienic layer
- Provide a better grip - towel on mat and foot/hand on towel
- Provide some extra cushioning
Yoga mat towels can be made from a variety of materials, but most are made from microfiber or cotton. These are most common in bikram yoga or hot yoga style classes.
Yoga mat towels typically have a non-slip grip surface on one side to help keep the towel in place during yoga practice. Yoga mat towels can be useful to use while gripping your body for postures too. An example would be putting the towel over your feet for a hand on foot grip in rabbit pose.
The non-slip benefit typically comes in the form of multiple grippy rubber feet or silicone nubs connected to the towel's material. Some towels have pockets on each corner to fit around your yoga mat or use a waffle-weave design that's infused with a silicone material on the backside to grip the mat beneath it. Look for a hybrid product of a yoga mat combined with a yoga towel. This yoga mat and towel combination is washing machine and dryer safe and provides hygienic easy clean up.
Preparing your yoga towel for class
Yoga mat towels provide the best non-slip for your feet when slightly damp or wet. Before class, you might want to lightly mist your towel. Otherwise, showing up to class a few minutes early to get a light sweat going will be beneficial for when you get into the main practice.
If you are using a full-length towel center it directly on your mat. Most yoga towels come in a standard size of 72" by 24" or 183cm by 61cm. This will cover most studio mats or ones bought in-store or online.
How to choose the best yoga mat towel for your needs
A few factors you'll want to consider before purchasing a yoga mat towel are:
- The size of your yoga mat
- How often you practice yoga - amount of towels you need
- How much grip - towel on mat stability and foot/hand on towel grip you need
- The material the towel is made of
- Thickness of towel
Some people can get by using a beach towel. Others prefer to have a high-performance moisture-wicking or microfiber material for the towel. Consider renting a towel from the studio to get a feel for what works best for you.
Once you figure out the material you want, you will need to take into consideration how often you practice. If you're going to the studio every day, or even every other day for yoga, pilates, or any other workout where you're sweating heavily, one towel won't work. You'll need to purchase a couple.
Heavy sweaters may need a thick towel or use two during a hot class.
Most people who practice 2-3 times a week can get by with 2 towels, sometimes 3, depending on how often they wash the towels. Most yoga towels are inexpensive at less than $25, with others upwards of $40 to $60 or more depending on the construction, material, and brand.
The benefits of using a yoga mat towel
- Increased footing grip
- Reduced towel slippage on mat
- Hygienic layer - less mat cleaning and laying on sweat
- Extra cushioning
The towel will soak up all the sweat that would otherwise pool up on your mat. This is a major inconvenience since sweat can be uncomfortable to lie or sit on and makes the mat slick and difficult to hold poses that require significant balance.
With a towel over your mat, there's less dead skin and/or sweat getting into the folds and creases of your mat. While you should wash your mat regularly with soap, warm water, and a scrub brush, a towel will help to prevent the buildup of dead skin cells.
We always recommend a closed cell yoga mat that is non porous and does not absorb water to go with your yoga towel.
A good yoga mat towel will also provide some extra cushioning. Some towels are designed with a thick layer of padding to make up for what's lacking in many yoga mats. Even if your towel is thin, you can fold it over a time or two if needed.
Yoga mat towel care tips.
- Wash the towel before first use
- Wash the towel after each use on a cold cycle
- Allow the towel to air dry or put it in the dryer on low or no heat
- Do not use any fabric softener and use as little detergent as possible
Yoga mat towel materials vary, but here are some basic instructions for each material type.
Microfiber yoga mat towels: Microfiber towels can be washed on either cold or warm water cycles. A mild detergent free of dyes or perfumes is best; try to use as little as possible.
A microfiber towel can be put into the dryer set to low heat. Some shrinkage may occur. Do not wash or dry with other non-microfiber materials or lint and fuzz will stick to the microfiber.
Polyester/nylon blend yoga mat towels: Polyester and nylon material-based yoga mats can be washed on a warm cycle. Use a mild detergent, preferably free of any perfumes or dyes. Polyester is heat sensitive, so air dry or dry on low or no heat.
Can you use a regular towel for hot yoga?
Yes you can use a regular cotton towel for hot yoga. Cotton towels tend to move and bunch up on your mat which is hard to balance on and lie on comfortably. While you will not get the same level of grip of the towel on the mat as a yoga-specific towel, a regular beach or bath towel will provide a hygienic layer and absorb your sweat.
Should you use a towel on a yoga mat?
Yes, even if you are not practicing hot yoga, a towel can provide a hygienic layer for your mat, non slip towel on mat comfort, non slip extra grip for those who are heavy sweaters or have a slick, closed-cell mat.