How to Fix a Slippery Yoga Mat

woman stretching on yoga mat

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When buying a yoga mat, it can be more than a little disappointing to discover that your so-called sticky mat has no traction. It can also be frustrating if you've had your mat for some time and it slides around more than you'd like.

If you have a slippery yoga mat, you could hurt yourself. This makes it important to identify why it isn't sticky enough, which can also help you find the best solution. It's also helpful to know what not to do so you don't accidentally make the issue worse.

Why Your Yoga Mat Is Slippery

It's tough to solve a problem when you don't know the cause. Plus, any solution you try is likely to only be temporary because you haven't fixed the root issue. So, what are some potential reasons for a slippery yoga mat?

  • It's a new mat and needs to be broken in. Most slippery-when-new yoga mats are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), like a Gaiam mat from Target. Even premium PVC mats like the Manduka PRO can be slippery at first. Over time, they do tend to get stickier. But at first, they can be quite slick.
  • Some mat materials are more slippery than others. Rubber, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), and polyurethane mats tend not to have the same initial slipperiness as PVC ones. In fact, great grip from the get-go is a big plus for these types of mats.
  • Your skin oil or lotion is making you slip on the mat. If you typically do yoga right after moisturizing your skin, it's possible that your product of choice is the cause of the slipperiness.
  • You're sweating enough to make the yoga mat slick. Some people naturally sweat more than others. Or maybe you're doing Bikram yoga and the room is 105 degrees F with 40% humidity. A wet mat can easily become a slippery mat.
  • Certain poses feel difficult, causing you to slip out of them. Some poses can be quite challenging. Taking time off and returning to yoga may also make it harder to get into proper alignment. Either way, the mat may slip if you slip out of a pose.

Rubber mats include the Jade Harmony and Manduka eKO, TPE mats are made by Kulae and others, and rubber/polyurethane hybrids are offered by Lululemon and Liforme. These types of mats have the added advantage of being biodegradable, unlike PVC. If you're feeling confused about the options, this yoga mat comparison can help.

Slippery Mat Solutions

Once you identify the cause of your slippery mat, you can implement an effective solution.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If you have a PVC mat, do not despair. The main difference between your new shiny mat and the well-worn version provided by your yoga studio is obvious: your mat needs to be worn down a bit. Keep using it and it will soon acquire a slip-free surface.

Wash Your Mat

You can accelerate the aging process by washing your mat with water. Thin PVC mats (ones you can easily fold up, i.e. not the Manduka PRO) can even benefit from a run through your washing machine's gentle cycle.

No soap is necessary and be sure you allow plenty of time for your mat to air dry. Because yoga mats are absorbent, getting them completely dry can take up to several days.

It can also be helpful to wash your hands and feet prior to your yoga session to remove any oils or lotions that could potentially make your yoga mat more slippery.

Try a Towel

If you have sweaty palms or feet that are causing you to slip, you may need to use a towel with your mat. Placing a standard hand towel across the front of your mat could be all it takes. You can use it to dry your hands or place your palms on the towel when doing poses like Downward Facing Dog.

If you continue slipping, look into an anti-slip product like the Yogitoes Skidless towel. This type of washable, absorbent towel is designed to be used over your yoga mat for extra traction and is particularly popular for hot yoga practices.

What Not to Do

Do not use apple cider vinegar, which is a strong acid, to treat or wash your mat. And avoid exposing it to excessive sunlight and salt. Both will break down rubber, TPE, and polyurethane, and will probably not do much good, even for a PVC mat.

It's also helpful to check with the mat's manufacturer for care advice and cleaning tips. The company knows how to best use and treat its mat, so reach out for guidance on how to make and keep your mat sticky during your yoga practice.

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.