No, we don’t. And sometimes I even prefer to practice without. So is it just good Marketing that we’re purchasing them and even need more than one? Nope, a mat has a lot of benefits (please do yourself a favor an get a proper one – yes they are expensive but worth it, depending on your requirements).
The most important reason is to protect us from injury. Wow, a mat ca do this? Absolutely, let me give you an example: I’ve got slightly sweaty hands and those who share this with me know what I’m talking about. Slipping on a mat can be quite dangerous, plus it keeps my mind busy to take care about a proper and safe stand instead of releasing in a posture.
Of course it’s also a welcome support for the knees and all those parts touching the ground. Honestly I also don’t want to know what’s going on there on the floor, such things as when it has been cleaned last time…. Just get my mat down and everything is fine. Well, don’t forget to clean your mat regularly!
There’s another aspect not to be underestimated: ‘my mat is my home’. A symbolical representation of the place, which makes your mind, body, heart and soul healthy and also in union. Where ever you place your mat, you’re home. It’s your safe place. A synonym for your practice. Untouchable for others, disrespectful to walk on a mat that is not yours. Even when I teach, I try to not touch the mats of my students, which is unfortunately not always possible when doing adjustments, however, I respect this as a very personal place.
Regardless of all the pros using a mat, go without from time to time. We should not be attached to it, as attachment is rather about holding and clinging, while we try to practice the art of letting go in yoga. It’s all a matter of a healthy balance – appreciate your mat, without becoming hooked on it.