A Bikram yoga mat is a yoga mat suitable for Bikram yoga. Also known as “hot yoga,” Bikram yoga involves moving smoothly through a series of yoga poses in a heated room. The heat is supposed to increase the depth of stretching while encouraging the body to sweat, which some people believes contributes to the release of toxins from the body. While it is not necessary to use a specialized mat for hot yoga, there are some considerations to keep in mind when buying a mat for the purpose of attending Bikram yoga classes.
The main concern with mat selection is that Bikram yoga makes people sweat a great deal. This is desirable and part of the point of Bikram yoga practice, but it can be a real problem on the mat, because sweat can make the mat slippery. A sweaty mat can make someone unstable during challenging poses. Some people solve this problem by laying out a towel on the mat, but this can interfere with traction. A Bikram yoga mat is designed to provide plenty of friction, even when it is damp with sweat.
A good Bikram yoga mat will not become slippery when someone is sweating, and it may also be slightly oversized so that it does not need to be adjusted during the yoga routine. Depending on the taste of the yogi or yogini, the mat may be thick, providing more support and cushioning, or thin, allowing a firmer connection with the ground. Mats also come in a range of colors and patterns.
Some people like synthetic mats made from materials which are designed to be breathable so that they do not become slippery. Foam yoga mats are very common. It is also possible to use mats made from natural materials like cotton and bamboo, or to use a Bikram yoga rug, a woven rug designed for yoga practice. In all cases, the mat should be washable, as it may become unpleasant with use otherwise.
People who want to practice Bikram yoga should bring along at least two towels in addition to their Bikram yoga mat. A small hand towel for wiping the hands is useful, as is a full sized towel to pat down the body or to lay out on the mat if it starts to get slippery. Many people also like to shower after Bikram sessions, in which case a third towel and a complete change of clothes are highly advisable.