Yoga Towel vs. Yoga Mat

Yoga is an amazing practice for improving your physical and mental health.

Yoga Towel vs. Yoga Mat

Having the right equipment can enhance your yoga experience and allow you to get the most out of your practice.

Two yoga essentials are the yoga mat and the yoga towel. But what is the difference between the two? Which one should you use?

What is a Yoga Mat?

A yoga mat is a specially designed mat made for yoga practice. It provides a cushioned, non-slip surface to practice poses on. The mat creates a buffer between you and the hard floor, protecting joints and preventing injury. It also keeps you from sliding around on slippery floors when holding poses.

Yoga mats are typically made from materials like PVC, rubber, cork, or cotton. They come in different thicknesses, lengths and textures. Standard sizes are 24 x 68 inches and 26 x 72 inches. Thickness ranges from 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch.

Key benefits of yoga mats:

  • Cushioning for joints
  • Non-slip grippy surface
  • Portability – easy to roll up and carry
  • Provides a clean workout space

What is a Yoga Towel?

A yoga towel is a specialized towel made to put on top of your yoga mat. It is usually made from absorbent, wicking fabrics like microfiber, cotton, or bamboo rayon. Yoga towels have silicone nubs or grips on the bottom to prevent sliding on the mat.

Yoga towels serve several purposes:

  • Absorb sweat during hot yoga classes
  • Add grip to a slick mat
  • Provide a hygienic barrier between you and the mat
  • Protect and prolong the life of your mat

Key benefits of yoga towels:

  • Sweat absorption
  • Traction for hands and feet
  • Machine washable and reusable
  • Lightweight and portable

Yoga Mat Materials

Yoga mats are made from different materials, each with their own characteristics:

  • PVC – Most common, affordable and durable but not eco-friendly. Can release toxins when produced.
  • Rubber – Provides excellent grip and cushioning but has a strong odor. Made from natural rubber latex.
  • TPE – Eco-friendly, lightweight and soft but less durable than PVC.
  • Cork – Sustainable, antimicrobial, provides good grip. Expensive.
  • Cotton – Absorbent and soft but lacks grip.

Consider your needs – grip, cushioning, eco-friendliness – when choosing a mat material. PVC and TPE provide the best traction for active practices. Cotton and cork offer softness for gentle styles like Restorative yoga.

Yoga Towel Materials

Yoga towels are commonly made from:

  • Cotton – Soft, breathable and absorbent. Prone to shrinking.
  • Microfiber – Synthetic material, very absorbent and quick-drying.
  • Bamboo rayon – Sustainable, moisture-wicking and soft.
  • Hemp – Natural, antimicrobial and absorbent fiber. Excellent eco choice.
  • Blends – Combine properties of different fibers. Balance cost and performance.

Absorbency is the key factor for hot yoga. Natural fibers like cotton and hemp are more eco-friendly. Microfiber excels at drying quickly.

The Difference Between Yoga Mats and Towels

While both yoga mats and towels involve yoga, they serve different primary purposes:

  • Yoga mats provide cushioning and a non-slip surface for the practice. They create a barrier between you and the hard floor.
  • Yoga towels mainly absorb sweat and moisture. They add grip on slippery mats. Towels create a layer of hygiene.

Other differences:

  • Yoga mats are made of durable materials while towels use softer, more absorbent fabrics.
  • Mat materials like PVC and rubber provide more traction. Towels can slide around more easily.
  • Yoga mats are heavier and bulkier. Towels are lightweight and portable.
  • Mats withstand frequent washing less. Towels are machine washable.

When to Use a Yoga Mat

A yoga mat is essential for supporting safe yoga practice. Use a mat for:

  • Any style of yoga – Provides cushioning and grip for poses
  • Home practice – Protects floors, creates a clean surface
  • Yoga studios – Essential item to bring to classes
  • Outdoor yoga – Buffers against rough outdoor terrain
  • Other floor exercises – Provides support for Pilates, stretching, etc.

You can practice yoga without a mat, but it’s much more comfortable and safer with one. A mat helps align the body properly in poses by providing a flat, even surface. It also absorbs impact on joints like knees and wrists when moving in and out of poses.

When to Use a Yoga Towel

Yoga towels serve as a beneficial add-on accessory for many types of practice:

  • Hot yoga – Absorbs pools of sweat in heated classes
  • Ashtanga, Vinyasa – Wicks away sweat during flowing sequences
  • Slippery mats – Adds grip when mat is slick from sweat
  • Shared studio mats – Creates barrier for sanitary purposes
  • Outdoor yoga – Prevents hands and feet from slipping in nature
  • Sensitive joints – Provides extra cushioning on hard floors

If you only sweat minimally, a basic yoga mat will suffice. But for heavy sweaters, towels provide superior traction and hygiene. Use both a mat and towel for ultimate cushioning, grip and absorption.

Key Takeaway: Yoga mats provide cushioning and grip. Yoga towels excel at absorbing sweat and moisture. Use both together for the ideal yoga setup.

Yoga Mat vs Yoga Towel: The Pros and Cons

Yoga Mat Pros:

  • Cushions and supports body in poses
  • Stays in place without sliding
  • Easy to transport and store
  • Provides a hygienic personal space
  • Protects floor from wear and tear

Yoga Mat Cons:

  • Can absorb sweat and odor over time
  • Harder to clean thoroughly
  • Some materials lack eco-friendliness
  • Can be bulky to carry around

Yoga Towel Pros:

  • Absorbs sweat to keep mat and hands dry
  • Machine washable and reusable
  • Lightweight and easy to transport
  • Provides extra traction on slippery mats
  • Hygienic layer between body and mat

Yoga Towel Cons:

  • Can slide around on mat if not grippy underneath
  • Needs frequent washing
  • Some materials like microfiber are not biodegradable
  • Extra cost in addition to mat


How often should you wash a yoga mat?

Ideally, wash yoga mats every week or two if using frequently. Use a gentle, plant-based cleaner. Let air dry completely.

How do you clean a yoga mat?

Use mild, plant-based soap and warm water. Scrub gently with a soft sponge or washcloth. Rinse away soap then let air dry. Avoid harsh cleaners.

Can you put a yoga mat in the washing machine?

Only put rubber or cotton mats on gentle cycle in washing machine. Most other materials must hand wash.

How do you wash a yoga towel?

Check fabric care instructions. Most yoga towels can machine wash warm and tumble dry low. Use mild detergent.

How often should you wash a yoga towel?

Wash yoga towels after every 1-2 uses. The high absorption and moisture make them prone to bacteria buildup.

What is the best yoga towel?

Top yoga towel picks are:

  • YogaRat Hot Yoga Towel – excellent traction and absorption
  • MantraStyle Yoga Towel – soft microfiber, grips well
  • Yogitoes Skidless – most durable, good for slippery hands
  • Gaiam Yoga Towel – budget friendly, good starter towel

What is the best yoga mat?

Top rated yoga mats are:

  • Manduka Pro Yoga Mat – extremely durable, grippy when broken in
  • Jade Harmony Yoga Mat – excellent traction, made of natural rubber
  • Liforme Original Yoga Mat – dense cushioning, personalized grip
  • Yogi Bare Paws Extreme – antimicrobial cork material, sustainable
  • Gaiam Classic Yoga Mat – affordable basic mat, good for beginners


Yoga mats and towels are both useful accessories for an effective yoga practice. Yoga mats provide cushioning and prevent slipping on hard floors. They create a personal workout space for comfort and hygiene. Yoga towels excel at absorbing sweat to keep hands and mats dry during hot yoga or vigorous flows. They add traction on slippery mats and supply an extra layer of cleanliness.

The optimal yoga setup includes both a high quality mat and a towel to get the combined benefits. Yoga mats supply the supportive base and stability. Yoga towels wick away moisture and sweat for grip. Using them together caters to both cushioning and absorption needs.

When choosing a mat, consider materials that provide your preferred mix of eco-friendliness, grip, and softness. For towels, look for super absorbent and fast-drying fabrics. With the right yoga mat and towel combo, you can optimize your practice for comfort, hygiene, and performance.

Towels Edition
Towels Edition