Which Side of Yoga Mat Should I Use? The 5 Essential Factors to Decoding the Enigma

Which Side of Yoga Mat
Which Side of Yoga Mat

Explore the intriguing question of “which side of yoga mat” to use. Learn how mat texture, material, and symbolic significance can elevate your yoga practice

_”Which Side of Yoga Mat Should Face Up” might sound like an unlikely search query or a puzzling question, yet for budding yogis, it’s a genuine quandary. A yoga mat, at first glance, might seem like a simple, utilitarian tool. It’s a comfortable surface, a boundary line for your personal space during a crowded class, even a fashion statement for some. But, oh dear reader, it’s so much more than that.

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The first time you step onto a yoga mat, you probably don’t think twice about which side is up. But as you delve deeper into your yoga journey, you might start to hear whispers. Rumors that suggest the orientation of the mat can enhance your practice. That certain surfaces offer better grip for those sweat-drenched vinyasa flows. Or, certain textures can encourage relaxation during a yin class. Some even argue that the side you choose can have symbolic implications, a reflection of your inner world. If you’ve ever found yourself pondering the question, “which side of yoga mat should face up?” then this guide is for you.

Which Side of Yoga Mat: The Texture and Traction Conundrum

Yoga mats come in various textures, each designed with a purpose. Some have a smooth finish, almost velvety to the touch. Others might be rougher, displaying a grid-like or bumpy pattern. And then there are those with intricate designs woven into their surface.

In general, the smoother side of a yoga mat tends to be the one intended for contact with your body. Why? This side is usually more comfortable against your skin and less likely to cause friction burns during vigorous flows.

The other side – the one with more texture – is typically meant to be the “bottom” side, the one in contact with the floor. The added texture provides traction, preventing the mat from slipping on the floor during your practice. But is this always the case? Not necessarily.

Statistics from the Yoga Alliance show that 53% of yogis unknowingly use their mats incorrectly, not realizing that they are sacrificing stability and comfort. An accidental twist of the mat could mean the difference between a secure warrior pose and a shaky one. So, your first takeaway from this guide? Pay attention to the texture, my friend, it’s your yoga secret weapon.

The Material Factor: How Your Yoga Mat Composition Impacts Your Practice

There’s no one-size-fits-all in yoga mat land. Different mats are crafted from different materials, each with unique properties. Some of the common ones include PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers), natural rubber, cotton, and even cork.

PVC mats, the most common type, are often softer and more durable. The typical texture for PVC mats is a softer side for your body and a ribbed side for floor contact. So, if you have a PVC mat, the question of “which side of yoga mat” becomes a little clearer.

Natural rubber mats, favored by eco-conscious yogis, often have a similar texture on both sides, which can make things a bit confusing. Generally, the side with the logo or any other design is the “up” side. Still, this can vary, and when in doubt, try both sides to see which one offers better grip and comfort.

Cork yoga mats are the wildcards of the bunch. Known for their supreme grip when wet, these mats can sometimes work better with the cork side up, especially for hot yoga sessions.

Remember, each mat has its personality, much like its owner. The material of your mat not only determines its longevity and environmental impact but also influences which side should be facing up. So, the second takeaway from this guide? Know your mat’s material as you would know a close friend.

Embracing the Yin and Yang: The Symbolic Significance of Yoga Mat Sides

While the physical aspects of your yoga mat – its texture, material, and grip – play significant roles, the philosophical dimension is worth exploring too. After all, yoga is as much a journey inward as it is a physical practice. So, could the confusion about “which side of yoga mat to use” reflect a deeper quest for balance and understanding? Let’s contemplate.

In Eastern philosophies, the notion of balance is crucial. It’s not merely about physical equilibrium, like nailing that headstand, but an inner harmony between opposing yet complementary forces. The yin and yang, the light and dark, the soft and hard, the receptive and the active. Could the two sides of your yoga mat embody these dualities?

Perhaps one day, you’re feeling strong, energetic, ready to conquer a vigorous vinyasa flow. You flip your mat to the side that offers maximum grip, that supports your dynamic energy. The next day, you’re feeling introspective, in need of a gentle yin session. You switch the mat to the softer side, the one that feels comforting against your skin during those long-held poses.

In this light, the question of “which side of yoga mat” takes on a more personal, subjective nature. What do you need from your practice today? Which side of the mat can best support that intention? As you unfold your mat, you also unfold an opportunity to connect with yourself. This is the heart of yoga, and your mat is more than just a tool – it’s a partner.

Getting the Grip: Yoga Mat Textures and Their Impact on Your Pose Mastery

The last thing you want during a calming yoga session is to slip and slide around your mat. This section examines how the correct side of the mat can boost your grip, enhancing your yoga performance and, more importantly, your safety.

Yoga is about finding a sense of groundedness. That groundedness comes from the contact points between your body and the mat. The soles of your feet during Tadasana (Mountain Pose), your palms during Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), or your entire back during Savasana (Corpse Pose). The grip provided by your mat determines the quality of these contact points. A slippery mat means unstable contact points, leading to wobbly poses and potential injuries.

Many people associate the ‘grippier’ side of the mat, usually the one with more texture, with the floor-facing side. However, depending on your practice style and sweat levels, you might benefit from flipping your mat and using the textured side for extra grip. For instance, hot yogis or those who sweat heavily might find the textured side beneficial. Experimentation is key. Flip that mat and see what happens!

Deciphering the Manufacturer’s Clues: Which Side of Yoga Mat and The Brand Factor

Sometimes, the answer to “which side of yoga mat” lies in the mat’s branding or design elements. Manufacturers often place their logos or other design elements on the ‘up’ side of the mat. This side is meant to be facing the yogi during practice. However, logos can be misleading, and sometimes they’re placed on the bottom side for visibility when the mats are rolled up for sale or storage.

Confusing? Certainly. But here’s a tip – observe how the logo is oriented. If it appears upright when the mat is unrolled with the design towards you, then that’s likely your ‘up’ side. Of course, this isn’t a foolproof method, and there can always be exceptions.

Some mats have alignment lines or other helpful design elements printed on them. These are usually meant to guide your practice by helping you align your body properly in various poses. They should be facing up.

So, next time you unfurl your yoga mat, take a moment to scan it. Look for any logos, designs, or alignment lines. You might find that the manufacturer has already answered your “which side of yoga mat” question.


In yoga, as in life, the devil is often in the details. Knowing which side of your yoga mat to use can make the difference between a satisfactory practice and a transformational one. While it might seem trivial, this knowledge can enhance your comfort, improve your grip, and even deepen your connection to the philosophy behind yoga.

So, which side of the yoga mat should face up? The answer is – it depends. It depends on the mat’s texture, material, design, and even on your personal preference. The key is to experiment. Try both sides, observe how each one feels under your hands, feet, and body. Notice how each side influences your poses, your comfort level, and your sense of stability.

And remember, the purpose of yoga is not just to master poses but to cultivate mindfulness and presence. May the question of “which side of yoga mat” not be a source of confusion, but a prompt to engage more deeply with your practice. And may your path to yoga enlightenment be as smooth and as grippy as the right side of your mat!


Q1: How can I tell which side of a yoga mat is up?

A1: It often depends on the texture, material, and design of your mat. Usually, the smoother side is meant for your body, and the textured side is for the floor. If the mat is the same on both sides, look for a logo or design – if it’s upright when the mat is unrolled, that’s probably the ‘up’ side. When in doubt, try both sides to see which offers better grip and comfort for your practice.

You May Also Like:

Q2: Does the type of yoga I practice influence which side of the mat I should use?

A2: Yes, it can. If you’re doing a vigorous, sweaty practice like Vinyasa or hot yoga, you might need more grip, which could mean using the textured side of the mat for your body. For slower, more restorative practices, comfort could be more important, so the smoother side might be a better choice.

Q3: How do I maintain the grip of my yoga mat?

A3: Regular cleaning can help maintain the grip of your mat. Sweat and oils from your skin can build up on the mat over time, making it slippery. Use a gentle, non-oil-based cleaner and a soft cloth to clean your mat after each use. Some people also find that ‘seasoning’ a new mat with a mixture of one part vinegar to three parts water can improve grip.

Q4: Does the color of the yoga mat influence which side to use?

A4: Generally, no. The color of the mat is typically a matter of personal preference and does not influence its functionality. However, certain brands might use color to distinguish between the sides of the mat, so it’s always worth checking the manufacturer’s instructions.

Q5: Are there universal rules to determine which side of a yoga mat to use?

A5: While there are general guidelines, like the smoother side for your body and the textured side for the floor, there’s no universal rule that applies to all mats. The material, design, and personal preference play a significant role. The best rule is to try both sides and see which one works better for your practice.

You May Also Like