You can't beat having your very own yoga mat. It's more hygenic, more personal, and can become a trigger or gateway to wherever yoga takes you. Or maybe that's just me. It's my happy place.
However, if you're buying the standard, traditional mat then you can pretty much guarantee that it's going to be slippery to start with. And as soon as you start to warm up and the palms start to shine then that beautiful down-dog that you've worked so hard on will start to slide into an altogether different experience of slide - reposition - slide - reposition - wipe hands on t-shirt - slide - reposition - repeat.
Rather annoyingly, new mats seem to be born with a bit of a slippy slidey film on them. This definitely wears off after regular use, but can be pretty frustrating for a while.
As I have invested in some new mats for my classes I have been doing some investigations to find a way to fix it. There are lots of tricks, but this is what has worked for me...
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE - this does not apply to 'sticky mats' - special smooth mats which are oh-so-clever and have an amazing grip which seems to actually improve when you're a bit sweaty (such as Liforme or lululemon mats). Don’t do any of this to a sticky mat. Please. You will ruin it and be very annoyed. This is for the cheaper PVC mats with a stippled surface. Not very eco-friendly, but a cost-effective mat to start with.
If you have a printed design on your mat then these measures may cause some distress.
Step One: Take your slippery friend into the kitchen or bathroom - somewhere you dont mind the floor getting wet. Roll out your mat. Get on some shorts and a t-shirt. Acquire a firm scrubbing brush and some dishwashing liquid. Add water, get down onto your hands and knees and get scrubbing. Get it wet and soapy. Scrub hard all over. You may want to put some loud music on and enjoy your own private foam party. Or not. Up to you.
While you're doing this you also may choose to engage your core muscles, drawing the belly button gently in and use that to stablise yourself and see the different it makes. You're on your yoga mat after all!
Step Two: Take a stainless steel pan scourer - the kind one might use to remove yesterday's scrambled eggs from the saucepan - and gently brush this over the surface of the whole mat. Apply some pressure - but be careful - dont rip your mat to shreds. You will notice some tiny little bits of mat will be removed by the scourer. Don't panic. It may feel a bit aggressive but go easy on it and the mat will be fine.
Step Three: Put your mat in the washing machine with some non-biological detergent and give it a wash. Make sure it gets a proper rinse so the bubbles from the machine and from Step One have been removed. Then hang it to dry - over a door or banister for example (not a radiator). This will take at least 24 hours, so choose your timing carefully.
So yes, this is a bit of an event, but it worked. No more slipping. If you are short of time and want to try a speedier version, my guess is the most effective part of this process was Step Two - The Scourer.
An alternative solution is to put a small hand towel across the top of your mat where your hands are sliding. You can also try hand chalk or liquid chalk.
Personally, I'm a big fan of the sticky mats and am lucky enough to have lululemon and Liforme mats as two of my favourite posessions. If you sweat a lot then this may be a better option for you in the long run. But even these have their drawbacks. Maybe I'll get to that in another post...
Really hope this helps. Feel free to share any feedback or other tips... :D