Ask Bennd: "Why is Your Mat Grip So Important and How Can It Improve Your Yoga Technique?"
Each yoga practice should be rooted in safe techniques that allow you to enjoy yoga without hurting yourself. Grip is one of the most important elements of yoga technique, the foundation where your body interacts with the mat and the earth beneath it. Mat grip can make or break your practice based on a few simple factors—how you distribute your body weight onto your hands and feet has a profound effect on the rest of your body. Whether you’re just starting your yoga journey or looking to improve your technique, working on proper grip and balance can help protect you from injury and enhance the benefits in strength, fitness, and overall wellness that yoga provides.
Why is mat grip so important in yoga?
In many poses, your hands and feet are the primary points of contact between your body and your yoga mat. That means that the rest of your body weight is being distributed across your extremities. Directing some or all of your weight onto your hands will naturally apply some force on your wrists and shoulders; the same is true of your knees and hips for poses that place weight on your feet. How you distribute your weight onto your limbs and the mat also affects other areas of the body: throw off one point of contact, and another muscle group might respond to compensate, potentially causing injury. Likewise, poor grip over time can put undue stress on your joints even without an acute injury, which can undo some of the improvements you seek from yoga.
How can I improve my grip with my Bennd natural Ayurvedic yoga mat?
If you’re accustomed to a standard yoga mat made from rubber or PVC (polyvinyl chloride), you may notice your hands or feet slipping in certain poses after you switch to a Bennd yoga mat, which are made with 100% ethically sourced raw cotton. While rubber mats may feel like they provide a more secure grip and more traction for your hands and feet, in many cases the higher friction of the mat may be hiding flaws in your technique. Though raw cotton lacks the natural stickiness of rubber or PVC, learning to adjust your grip to the softer surface can actually help you improve your practice.
If you’re experiencing trouble with your grip on a Bennd yoga mat or otherwise, we recommend using this as an opportunity to review your fundamental techniques and become more mindful of how you distribute your weight on the mat. Work on being conscious of your grip and how the mat feels under your hands and feet, and slow down your practice to improve your balance on your extremities. On your hands, check how much weight you put on the heels of your hands (nearest the wrist) as compared to the metacarpal heads (the bones at base of your fingers where they meet your palm). If you’re leaning on the heels, try shifting some of your weight closer to the middle of your hands. Too much pressure on the heels of your hands can put stress on your wrists. More even distribution across your hand will also improve your arm balances.
On your feet, instructors recommend distributing your weight as evenly as possible on the “four corners” of the foot: the ball of your big toe, the ball of your pinky toe, and both corners of your heel. To check your balance, stand with your feet hip distance apart, lift your toes off the ground, and rock back and forth and side to side. When you’ve found your balance, drop your toes. Be mindful of how that distribution feels under your feet.
Maintaining balance and grip is an ongoing challenge for all yoga practitioners. With a Bennd cotton yoga mat, you’ll find that increasing your awareness of your body and where it meets the ground can improve body alignment and posture, help prevent injuries, and deepen your practice overall. Since cotton absorbs moisture, you’ll find that you have more traction as you get farther into each practice as your body creates heat and sweats. If you’re looking for a bit of extra grip at the start of a session, just gently spray your hands with a small amount of water before you begin. Use the Bennd yoga mat’s raised hand grip lines for even better stability and alignment.