There I am. My yoga class has just begun. The instructor has guided our class into a round of sun salutations, and as I'm rearing back into my third or fourth downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), I notice my hands beginning to slide forward on the mat.

Slippery mat moments can destabilize even the most centered and strong of yoga practitioners. You can try to breathe through it or find some hidden reservoir of calm and balance deep inside of you. But sometimes you just have to make some adjustments - unless you want your downward dog to look and feel more like downward-dog-on-its-belly.

Slippery mats happen for a few different reasons:

  • You may be too sweaty. Certain types of yoga can really make you perspire, and all the sweat can reduce the traction of your sticky mat. Keep a towel nearby to dry off your hands and your mat. Or you can place the towel beneath your hands when you move through forward-leaning poses, like downward dog, in which gravity really works against you. In a pinch, you can roll the end of your yoga mat over to give you a fresh, dry surface to use.

  • Your mat may be too new. Some mats have a thin film on them that needs to be worn down. You could also rub the new mat down with a damp cloth.

  • Your mat may be too old. Older sticky mats can erode and lose their traction. It may be time for an upgrade! Lots of options exist in a range of designs, colours, and prices. Ask your yoga instructor for recommended brands - they're bound to have used at least a few types in their practice.

  • Your mat may be too dirty. Special yoga mat sprays aren't necessary, and washing a yoga mat is actually pretty simple. Yoga Journal advises that lightly soiled mats can be sprayed or rubbed down with a damp sponge or rag with diluted dish soap. Heavily soiled mats can be submerged in mild detergent and handwashed. Either way, make sure to squeeze out all the water and dry your mat well. Hang drying works for lighter washes. If you've totally submerged your mat, you may need to roll it up in a towel and then hang it to dry. Some yoga practitioners recommend toting your mat in a bag to keep it clean.

If none of these ideas work, you could try out skid-less towels or yoga gloves with gripping traction pads on the palms.

Amy Toffelmire