There are many reasons people use yoga mats. They add comfort. They help keep you clean. They help one to find sacred space. Then why am I ditching my yoga mat? It has become a distraction. No matter what slip grip mat I try I haven't been able to gain stability. I enjoy a good long stretch in my lunge. Usually going out further than the length of the mat. Yoga mats I have seen only come in one shape (rectangle). I would prefer something a bit more circular when practicing different flows, like Shadow Yoga. Finally, I find more stability with the ground underneath my feet.
Doing yoga without a mat allows for direct touch with the earth. Which in a way makes me feel more grounded. I enjoy yoga for the connection to my surroundings. This includes the ground or grass underneath my feet. To be able to feel the grass in-between my toes. Lay on the cool floor on a warm summer day. Breathe in the scent of the flowers beside me. Without a yoga mat I feel a deeper connection.
There are many articles online that give the benefits of using a yoga mat. It allows for increased balance, protects from injury, and improves balance. I agree except when it comes to improving my balance. Maybe it's the arch in my feet or from fatigue. I find more comfort and stability in mountain, dancer, or tree pose with dirt underneath me instead of a mat my footing can stick to when I sweat.
Yoga is about movement, breathe, and flow. Doing yoga without a mat allows me to move freely, work on my strength and balance practicing on unlevel ground, and flow without constraints.
Do you prefer the comfort of a mat or going au naturel? Try yoga both ways and let us know.