Yoga Towel vs. Regular Towel

Yoga has become an increasingly popular form of exercise and stress relief in recent years.

Yoga Towel vs. Regular Towel

With its focus on breathwork, flexibility, and mindfulness, yoga provides numerous benefits for both the body and mind. If you’re new to yoga or looking to deepen your practice, having the proper gear is essential.

Two yoga accessories you may be deciding between are a yoga towel and a regular towel.

While both towels absorb sweat, their materials and intended uses differ. So how do you know which one to choose?

What is a Yoga Towel?

A yoga towel is a specialized towel designed specifically for yoga practice. It is typically narrower and longer than a regular bath or beach towel to fit standard yoga mat dimensions. Yoga towels are usually made from microfiber, cotton, bamboo, or other highly absorbent materials that quickly soak up sweat.

The bottom of a yoga towel has a non-slip surface with silicone grips or small nubs. This prevents the towel from sliding around on the yoga mat during practice. The top surface provides traction for hands and feet while remaining smooth against the skin.

Yoga towels serve several purposes:

  • Absorb sweat during hot yoga and other sweat-inducing practices
  • Prevent hands and feet from slipping on the mat
  • Add a layer of cushioning for sensitive joints
  • Provide a hygienic layer over shared studio mats

Key Takeaway: Yoga towels have a non-slip bottom and absorbent top to keep you steady and sweat-free during practice.

What is a Regular Towel?

Regular towels refer to basic bath, beach, and hand towels made from cotton or cotton-blend materials. They come in a variety of sizes, but most are too short and wide to cover a standard yoga mat.

Regular towels absorb moisture through the cotton material. However, they lack the non-slip surface of specialized yoga towels. While regular towels can soak up sweat, they don’t provide stability for hands and feet during yoga.

People commonly use regular towels for:

  • Drying off after a shower or swim
  • Wiping hands and face
  • Lounging on the beach or grass
  • Covering gym equipment
  • Washing cars and windows

Key Takeaway: Regular towels are everyday cotton towels used for drying, wiping, and cleaning. They lack a non-slip surface for yoga.

Yoga Towel vs Regular Towel: Key Differences


  • Yoga towels are often made from polyester, nylon, microfiber, or absorbent cotton blends. Materials like microfiber soak up large amounts of moisture.
  • Regular towels are typically 100% cotton or cotton-polyester blends. They absorb moisture but not as efficiently as specialized yoga towel materials.


  • Yoga towels range from 24″-27″ wide and 68″-72″ long to fit standard yoga mat dimensions. Their narrow shape prevents bunching.
  • Regular towels come in varying sizes like hand towels (16″x30″), bath towels (27″x52″), and beach towels (35″x60″). Most are too wide and short to cover a yoga mat.


  • Yoga towels have silicone dots or rubber grips on the bottom to prevent slipping on a yoga mat. The top layer also provides traction.
  • Regular towels lack any sort of grip technology. They easily move around on slippery surfaces.


  • Yoga towels are fairly thin to stick securely to the mat, but still provide subtle cushioning for sensitive joints.
  • Regular towels are thinner with no cushioning ability. Placing one over a mat takes away padding.


  • Yoga towels can usually be machine washed and dried for easy care. Microfiber dries quickly.
  • Regular cotton towels may require air drying to prevent shrinking. They take longer to fully dry.

Key Takeaway: Yoga towels differ from regular towels in specialized materials, size, grip, and care. They are designed specifically for yoga needs.

When Should You Use a Yoga Towel?

Yoga towels serve important purposes for certain types of yoga practices and situations:

Hot Yoga Classes

Hot yoga is done in heated rooms from 80-105°F to induce sweating. The vigorous Vinyasa flows also build heat. Yoga towels are essential for gripping the mat and absorbing sweat drips during hot yoga classes.

Sweaty Practices

If you sweat heavily in general or from certain poses, a yoga towel helps keep moisture from pooling on your mat. The microfiber materials draw sweat away from the skin and mat surface.

Slippery Mats

Brand new yoga mats tend to be quite slippery until broken in. Older, worn mats can also lose their grip over time. Using a yoga towel provides stable traction on slippery mat surfaces.

Sensitive Joints

For those with tender knees, wrists, or other joints, a yoga towel provides subtle padding without too much bulk. The extra cushioning aids in protecting sensitive areas.

Unsanitary Mats

Shared studio mats or hotel yoga mats may harbor germs from many users. Placing a yoga towel over them acts as a hygienic barrier for your body.

Key Takeaway: Use yoga towels for sweaty practices, slippery mats, padding needs, or sanitary protection in studios.

When are Regular Towels Suitable for Yoga?

While yoga towels are specially designed for yoga, regular towels can also work in certain low-sweat situations:

Gentle, Low-Intensity Yoga

For very gentle, low-exertion yoga like restorative and Yin, you likely won’t build up much sweat. A regular towel placed over the mat may suffice for mild moisture absorption.

Temporary Substitute

If you forget your yoga towel, a regular bath or hand towel can act as a temporary stand-in. It’s better than no towel at all, but may bunch up or slide.

Outdoor Yoga

Practicing outdoors on grass or sand, a regular beach or bath towel will provide enough cushioning and absorbency under your body.

Budget Option

For those on a very tight budget, large regular towels can be cheaper substitutes. Get the largest, thinnest cotton towels possible for makeshift yoga towel alternatives.

Key Takeaway: Only use regular towels for gentle yoga where sweat is minimal or as a temporary substitute. Yoga-specific towels work best.

Tips for Choosing the Best Yoga Towel

Follow these tips when selecting a quality yoga towel for optimal grip, absorption, and comfort:

  • Pick microfiber or absorbent cotton: Materials like microfiber or cotton/bamboo blends soak up the most sweat.
  • Get the right size: Choose narrow, long towels that will cover your entire mat without hanging over the edges.
  • Consider cushioning needs: Thicker towels provide more padding if you need joint support.
  • Check bottom grip: Make sure the towel has a non-slip silicone or latex dot grip surface to prevent sliding.
  • Read online reviews: Look at customer reviews and ratings to determine real-world quality and absorbency.
  • Compare pricing: While more expensive doesn’t always mean better, very cheap towels may be lower quality. Find the best value.
  • Try before buying: If possible, test out the towel grip and feel during an in-store yoga class before purchasing.

Key Takeaway: Select an appropriately sized microfiber or absorbent yoga towel with non-slip bottom technology and positive reviews.


Are yoga towels necessary?

Yoga towels are not 100% essential but provide helpful grip, traction, absorption, sanitation, and padding benefits. They make practice safer and more hygienic. Many yogis prefer using them.

Can I use a yoga towel without a mat?

You can practice directly on a yoga towel, but they are quite thin without much cushioning. A yoga mat provides more padding for bony areas. Using both is better for joint protection.

How often should you wash yoga towels?

It’s ideal to wash yoga towels after every use to remove built-up sweat, bacteria, and odors. Microfiber yoga towels are machine washable and dry quickly. Follow fabric care instructions.

Can you put yoga towels in the dryer?

Most microfiber and cotton yoga towels can safely be dried on low heat in the dryer. Some natural materials like bamboo may require air drying instead. Always check towel fabric care instructions.

Why is my yoga towel slippery?

If a yoga towel isn’t sticking to your mat, moisture may be needed to activate the adhesive grips, especially when new. Lightly mist the towel and mat surface before use. Over time, the grips break in too.


Yoga towels are specially designed accessories engineered to provide grip, absorb sweat, and cushion joints during yoga sequences. Their materials, sizing, and non-slip properties make yoga towels ideal for sweaty practices and unstable mats.

Regular towels lack specialized features to stay in place or securely grip the mat. While they can absorb some moisture, regular bath and hand towels work best as temporary substitutes or for very gentle yoga with minimal sweat.

Towels Edition
Towels Edition