It’s hard to imagine a yoga studio without colorful yoga mats lined up on the floor. But the helpful, sticky pads have only been around since the ’60s.
London-born yoga teacher Angela Farmer suffered from a rare disorder that didn’t let her hands and feet sweat. As a teenager, she was practicing with the famous yogi B.K.S. Iyengar on a wood floor in winter and it was so dry she kept slipping. He wouldn’t let her use anything under her to stop her sliding or put water on her hands to help her stick to the floor. Later, while practicing in Germany, she cut out a piece of carpet cushion and the yoga mat was born.
There’s always been backlash against the yoga mat, but it’s a challenge to practice without one. Being without a mat makes you work in a more concise way, and a less showboaty way, because you have to use your own body to support the base of the pose instead of the stickiness of the mat.
So if you decide to quit using your mat, what do you do with all the mats you’ve acquired through the years? Or maybe your mat is just plain worn out. It doesn’t seem right to just throw it away. How can you repurpose your yoga mat? Here are a few ideas.
Cut them into bright stair treads for the way down to the basement or up to the kids’ rooms.
Use them in the garden to block weeds as you cultivate and reclaim new beds.
Form and Fauna makes shoes out of used yoga mats and Sanuk makes sandals.
Cut them into squares and keep them on hand to open tough jars.
Use them under furniture to keep it from scratching the floor or sliding around.
Use them as drawer liners.
Use one as a doorstop.
Line kitchen shelves.
Or line the shelves in your workshop.
Cut off a corner, clean it well (you can put it in the dishwasher) and roll it up to use as a stopper for a wine bottle.
Put a cut piece under the dog bowl.
Use them under paper as puppy pads when training your new puppy.
Line the bottom of your trash can.
Put them under throw rugs or carpet runners so they don’t slip.
Cut out a foot bed and use it as an insole liner of your shoes for extra cushioning.
Put a piece under your drain tray.
Use to stop the drain in the bathtub or sink.
Cut out a large square to put on top of the fridge so that you can use that space for storage and then whisk it off for easy cleaning of hard-to-reach dust bunnies.
Put them under planters to absorb overflow water.
Line your bookshelves to keep the books from sliding off a half-filled row.
Put the whole mat down in the bathtub to keep you from slipping in the shower.
Use in your potting shed for easy cleanup and to keep potting soil from going to waste: Just scoop up the whole mat and dump the spilled soil back in the bag.
Use as a crop cover on frost warning nights.
Use as a portable baby-changing table.
Cut them into floor mats for the car.
Have an art day with the kids and cut the edges into fun patterns for placemats. They also make colorful pads for underneath art projects, and they clean up quick with a wet sponge.
Use as a ground cloth for camping — under your tent or under your sleeping bag
Use as a picnic blanket at outdoor yoga festivals.
Use as an impromptu umbrella in a rainstorm. (I’ll admit it: I’ve done this!)
However you choose to practice, whether on the mat or off, choose to do something practical with your old mat. Keep them out of the landfill, and keep them sparking yoga conversations in the strangest of places.