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What is a Bikram Yoga Mat?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2016
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A Bikram yoga mat is a yoga mat suitable for Bikram yoga. Also known as “hot yoga,” Bikram yoga involves moving smoothly through a series of yoga poses in a heated room. The heat is supposed to increase the depth of stretching while encouraging the body to sweat, which some people believes contributes to the release of toxins from the body. While it is not necessary to use a specialized mat for hot yoga, there are some considerations to keep in mind when buying a mat for the purpose of attending Bikram yoga classes.

The main concern with mat selection is that Bikram yoga makes people sweat a great deal. This is desirable and part of the point of Bikram yoga practice, but it can be a real problem on the mat, because sweat can make the mat slippery. A sweaty mat can make someone unstable during challenging poses. Some people solve this problem by laying out a towel on the mat, but this can interfere with traction. A Bikram yoga mat is designed to provide plenty of friction, even when it is damp with sweat.

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A good Bikram yoga mat will not become slippery when someone is sweating, and it may also be slightly oversized so that it does not need to be adjusted during the yoga routine. Depending on the taste of the yogi or yogini, the mat may be thick, providing more support and cushioning, or thin, allowing a firmer connection with the ground. Mats also come in a range of colors and patterns.

Some people like synthetic mats made from materials which are designed to be breathable so that they do not become slippery. Foam yoga mats are very common. It is also possible to use mats made from natural materials like cotton and bamboo, or to use a Bikram yoga rug, a woven rug designed for yoga practice. In all cases, the mat should be washable, as it may become unpleasant with use otherwise.

People who want to practice Bikram yoga should bring along at least two towels in addition to their Bikram yoga mat. A small hand towel for wiping the hands is useful, as is a full sized towel to pat down the body or to lay out on the mat if it starts to get slippery. Many people also like to shower after Bikram sessions, in which case a third towel and a complete change of clothes are highly advisable.

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gimbell
Post 6

@malmal - This makes me wonder if the machine washable Bikram yoga mats are only the thin ones. Bamboo doesn't sound like the right material to make an extra thick yoga mat, which happens to be my favorite kind.

I've read that foam mats are not uncommon for use in Bikram yoga. I already use a regular extra thick, soft foam mat in my other yoga class, and since I'm getting geared up to try Bikram yoga I was wondering if I could just use the mat that I have already.

I've read that you can use a yoga towel, like Malka was talking about, to put over a regular yoga mat instead of buying a new mat entirely

. The towel apparently absorbs the sweat so that your mat doesn't get all sweaty.

Does that work well, though, I wonder? I mean, is the towel just really absorbent, or does it actually have some rubber or plastic layer to prevent sweat from getting down to the mat layer?

I hope it works well enough to let me use my regular mat with a yoga towel over it. Bikram mats are pretty expensive -- the cheapest I could find when looking it up was $80.

malmal
Post 5

@Malka - It sounds like there is an awful lot of sweating going on during Bikram yoga -- I wouldn't want to use anybody else's mat for hygienic reasons.

I'll bet there is a place online somewhere where you can buy Bikram yoga mats for cheap.

Since I'm a person who gets squeamish about other people's sweat and stuff like that, I've done some reading on which Bikram yoga mats are the easiest to clean and disinfect, and I figured I would share the information here for anybody else who could use it.

Mats made of bamboo are best for non-slip purposes. Ones made of natural rubber are also very good, but can be a bit more slippery.

As you said before, Malka, a yoga towel is great to prevent slip and help absorb the sweat.

Finally, they make machine-washable Bikram yoga mats -- my favorite part of what I found out from this reading!

Malka
Post 4

@SkittisH - Hi, SkittisH. I read your comment here and wanted to let you know that, while it sounds like a good idea now, a bath mat probably wouldn't be very comfortable for those laying down forms in yoga.

If you're looking for a skidless yoga mat that can handle the high temperatures of Bikram yoga (the room is typically 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit), yoga towels are a better option than you might think.

Bikram yoga towels are designed to absorb sweat, keep you from slipping, and to keep from sliding around on the mat that they cover. The towels have a textured underside that grips the mat -- they're not like a regular bath towel, although the word

"towel" probably brings that image to mind.

Of course, if you're only attending one class and you dislike the heat, you might not want to invest the $50 or more that a Bikram yoga towel costs. I recommend seeing if the instructor of the class has any spare mats for you to use.

Hope this helps you out!

SkittisH
Post 3

@Monika - I'm one of those people who gets sleepy when I get too warm, so I'm not sure if Bikram yoga is for me. However, my two friends who do this style of yoga keep swearing it's great and makes them feel great, and so I'm going to give it a try.

If the room used for Bikram yoga is anything like a sauna, the hot air will probably make me feel smothered (like it did when I went into an actual sauna once.)

Anyway, about the yoga mats. My friends told me I would need one if I wanted to try their yoga with them, so I came here to read up on them a bit. It

sounds like the most important traits for this kind of yoga mat are that it's got traction for you to not slip, and it doesn't slide around. Right?

So, what if I used a bathtub mat of some kind? I mean, it's designed to get wet, and to keep you from slipping, and they usually have little suction cups on the bottom to keep the mat from sliding around. Do you think a bath mat would work for Bikram yoga? I would ask my friends, but I'm afraid they'll laugh.

Monika
Post 2

@starrynight - Bikram yoga does sound a little scary but I recommend getting that Bikram yoga mat and giving it a try! I do hot yoga about once and week, and while I do get sweaty the results are totally worth it.

I've definitely gotten leaner and lost a few pounds since I started Bikram. I also feel like its really taken my yoga practice to a new level. There's something about the heat that just makes it easier to quiet your thoughts and just focus on the breathing and postures.

That said, some people find the heat to be just too much. But you never know unless you try!

starrynight
Post 1

I didn't know you needed a different type of yoga mat to practice Bikram yoga! I've been doing regular yoga for awhile and I've been considering Bikram. I'm a little put off by the heat and sweatiness but I have a friend who does Bikram and swears by it.

I guess I better find some way to check and see if my yoga mat is suitable. Either that or I may just go shopping for a specific Bikram yoga mat. That is if I ever do get around to actually trying it!

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