The Best Travel Yoga Mat is Not a Mat – Yoga Paws Review
I think it’s common for a person’s yoga practice to suffer when he or she travels. We travel full-time, so my practice is in a pretty constant state of distress. When we are in San Diego or Oakland I practice very regularly at CorePower Yoga. Outside of California, aka the other 75% of the year, I occasionally find a studio I like as I did in Kampot, Cambodia and Koh Lanta, Thailand.
Since finding a studio I can get to and I like is the exception rather than the rule of our nomadic lifestyle I have come to realize that I need to develop a stronger personal practice. There is one major stumbling block to this goal; I am fussy and don’t like to practice without a yoga mat. When we were in Bocas del Toro, Panama I practiced daily because I had a yoga mat there I could use, it wasn’t my special grippy Jade mat, but I persevered.
I’ll try anything at least once, paddleboard yoga, aerial yoga, you name it, but when it comes down to it I just can’t bring myself to practice daily without a mat. This past autumn while we were in San Diego I became an RYT with Corepower’s 200-hour Teacher Training to encourage myself towards my goal of a stronger personal practice.
But I knew that training was not enough, if I was serious about this commitment I would need to bite the bullet and start traveling with a mat. Tom and I only travel with one carry-on bag each so I did not know how I was going to make it happen, just that I needed to.
I started to do some research and found Yoga Paws, basically little yoga mats for your hands and feet that retail for $39.95 on their site, or on amazon. Truthfully I expected them to be a mediocre solution, but the only one that would fit in my bag so I went ahead and got a set to try out.
The 4 piece set comes in different sizes and there is a sizing guide available online. I ordered a size 2 and when the box came I used the sizing guide on the back to confirm my choice.
The website is full of people doing beautiful yoga poses in wonderfully exotic places, such as in a tree or on a rock in a river. I was tempted to take similar pictures for this yoga paws review, but at the end of the day it usually looks like me on the floor of whatever apartment or hotel room we are currently staying in with my laptop nearby for music and a towel or carpet for my knees or back when I need it.
I quickly realized there are other benefits to Yoga Paws besides just being really small (which they are).
Benefit #1 They are super grippy. There is not a centimeter of slippage in my down dogs.
Benefit #2 The half foot design. At first I thought that this would be a con, It seemed strange that the “mats” only covered the ball of my foot and not the heel, but it’s actually my favorite feature! I can still ground down with my heel when my whole foot is down and there is no slippage. The unexpected benefit is how much it improves the afore-dreaded transition from Warrior I to Warrior II. I always found this transition to be super awkward as I had to move my back foot significantly farther back and closer to the midline, dragging it along a super sticky mat. With the “paws” on I lift the ball of my foot and quickly and easily slide on my heel until my foot is aligned correctly and then I press the ball of my foot back down, and BAM my foot is cemented to the earth. I love how I can lift the ball of my toe and slide my heel along whatever surfaces I am using until it is where I want it to be.
Benefit #3 They are incredibly supportive on my wrists. I have some wrist pain after my 20th or so chaturanga in a class. They especially begin to ache after holding side plank, crow or other arm balances. I know, I know, this means my alignment is off or my fingers aren’t spread wide enough, or something. I have tried every finger grip trick I’ve been shown, but I still have pain, maybe I just have weak wrists. No matter what the issue is, using yoga paws solves it and I no longer have wrist pain!
They are actually so grippy and supportive that something funny happened when I had a yoga mat to use, I didn’t want to take them off! I went ahead and used them with the mat anyway since I felt like they actually added to my practice. No longer do I feel like I need my special super grippy, thick mat to have a satisfying yoga sesh. Any ‘ol cheap mat will work so I don’t need to carry a heavy mat to a class if I am in Oakland or San Diego and am walking or riding a bike to a studio. Pieces of carpet, rugs or towels also now double as yoga mats.
Like Sam I Am discovering he does indeed like green eggs and ham, I have discovered a love of practicing on my own wherever we are. Of bringing that grounding and stability to our very unpredictable lives. No longer is yoga something that only happens in one place, or with one mat; I can do it here or there, I can do it anywhere!
All in All
- The grippiness.
- The extra support for my wrists.
- The half foot design that eases transitions.
- The small, easily packable, size.
- They are a little tight on my hands and feet, as I get warmer and sweatier they feel even tighter. That said, I don’t think they would work as well if they were looser.
- They are not super comfortable between the toes either, not painful but a little irritating like a new pair of flip flops.
I like them much more than I expected I would and so far they have helped me keep my goal of maintaining a committed personal yoga practice. The minor feelings of discomfort are forgotten quickly into a practice and it is more than made up for by all of the “pros.”
Yoga Paws provided me with a complimentary set to try out, but this review represents my unbiased opinion. Thank you Yoga Paws, I honostly love them!