By Alexis Wolfer

This week, the New York Times wrote about a new trend in yoga: practicing without a mat. For some, the article states, practicing yoga au naturel is ideal since yoga, at its core, is about a practice that requires nothing but your own body – and mats are more a reflection of the commercialization of the practice than the practice itself. But what about the germ factor? Or the slippage situation?

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For some of us, yoga mats not only provide traction for those of us with slippery (or sweaty) soles but also mark our personal space. Sure, attending a yoga class may fundamentally be about coming together to practice in unison, but there is nevertheless something about marking our turf and maintaining responsibility for our turf’s cleanliness that makes us feel a bit better about being in such close quarters with sweaty (and sometimes smelly) neighbors (who are, sometimes, merely inches away). But in reading this article we couldn’t help but wonder: were we being irrational?

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Depending on your studio, the fact is that practicing on a hardwood floor may be considerably more sanitary than practicing on a sweated-on yoga mat – and a quick chat with your instructor should help you gauge the cleanliness factor. And, well, a few sanitizing sprays on the floor (and or on your hands) can pretty much take care of that.

And the slippage factor?

Tara Stiles, author of Slim Calm Sexy, yoga expert for Women’s Health magazine, personal yoga instructor to Deepak Chopra and founder of Strala Yoga in NYC (we know, she really does it all!), told us “I think a lot of people slip on cheap and plastic type mats so that is the reason for the rebellion. You can do yoga on a mat or no mat… it’s up to the person… it’s individual.” We agree!

So, if you’re a confident yogi and secure in your footing, feel free to go for it. Us? Well… we’re not quite there yet so we’ll stick with our trusted Jade Yoga Mat ($49.95 and up at jadeyoga.com). It’s PVC-free, environmentally friendly (they even plant a tree for every mat sold!), made in the USA and, well, confidence boosting since we don’t need to fear a fall.

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To see the entire New York Times article, click here.