The Yoga Towel Guide – Do You Need A Yoga Towel?

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Yoga towels are not essential equipment to practice yoga but having a yoga towel is a nice add-on piece of yoga gear. Yoga towels help provide additional stability, grip, and cushioning during yoga practice. 

Yoga mats, especially new ones, tend to be slippery unless they are already properly broken in. It takes time to break in a new yoga mat, but there are ways to speed up the process.

Here’s a link to an article about breaking in a new yoga mat.

Yoga towels are also helpful especially during sweaty practices as it prevents sweat from dripping all over your mat hence keeping your mat clean and preventing you from slipping and getting injured. 

A lot of people use a yoga towel to give them more traction, at least when breaking in a new yoga mat or when doing a particularly sweaty practice.

In this article, we will be focusing on yoga towels and everything you need to know about this piece of yoga equipment. By the end of the article, I hope to give you a perspective on why yogis invest in them and why it is recommended that even beginners do so as well. 

Image of a Yoga Towel
Pink Yoga Towel – Photo Credit – Canva Pro

What Is A Yoga Towel? 

A yoga towel is made specifically for yoga practice. It is made of cloth, much like a regular towel, but it has sticky grips on the underside that allows it to stick to your mat during practice. Yoga towels are made specifically to help increase grip and add extra cushioning.

It is important to note that yoga towels are different from your usual bath towels. You may think that you don’t need to buy a yoga towel because you have tons of bath towels in your home cabinet but normal towels do not grip yoga mats the way yoga towels do. 

With yoga towels in hand, you don’t have to worry about stumbling or slipping even when you tend to really work up a sweat during yoga practice.

If you’re still not sure what a yoga towel is, this link will take you to Amazon where you can see a number of yoga towels.

What Is A Yoga Towel Used For? 

Yoga towels are primarily used to add stability and balance to a yoga practice by increasing grip and traction. Putting a yoga towel on top of a yoga mat prevents slipping as it absorbs sweat during practice.

Yoga towels also provide a cover on top of new mats to keep them cleaner and last longer. 

There are various advantages to using a yoga towel. In the next section, we will be going through the most important of these advantages. And to add even more perspective, we will also list the common disadvantages that are associated with using a yoga towel. 

11 Advantages of  Using a Yoga Towel

1. Adds Additional Grip 

Yoga mats are specially designed to have a nonslip surface on their top surface and to have grips on the underside that sticks to your mat. 

Also, as Bikram and Hot Yoga practitioners know, some sessions can be pretty sweaty. So yoga towels absorb a lot of this sweat during practice, unlike yoga mats. 

If you are the type of person that tends to really sweat during your yoga practice then you might find yourself increasingly frustrated by all the stumbling, slipping, and wobbling you do during asanas. 

Yoga towels absorb that sweat and keep you relatively dry during practice. Therefore, you only need to focus on your practice and be distracted by the pools of sweat at your feet. 

2. Increased Stability 

Yoga is a practice that keeps us grounded in the present. It helps to eliminate the phenomenon of the “noisy brain” by practicing keeping our focus on our bodies. It helps us be more aware of the here-and-now rather than succumbing to the anxiety that thinking of the future brings. 

”Your body exists in the past and your mind exists in the future. In yoga, they come together in the present.”


During yoga, we practice poses that help us focus on the way our body works to keep us stable. When your feet are secure and your foundation stable, it becomes much easier to focus on the breath and experience your practice wholely.

Without traction and grip, our bodies are at the mercy of friction. Without good traction, we will instead find ourselves tumbling and slipping through the entire session, and instead of coming out of the practice relaxed and rejuvenated, well you might just come out more frustrated. 

Yoga towels go a long way towards providing stability, especially for beginners. With the more stable foundation provided by a yoga towel, you will have a more enjoyable practice as you are beginning your yoga journey.

3. Increases Balance 

Aside from stability, yoga also requires balance. It encourages us to live a more holistic life by finding the balance within ourselves to meet our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

At the same time, it develops our body’s ability to retain and hold different poses for a period of time (to balance, in the most literal sense of the word) 

Without stability, we lose balance. These two go hand in hand when it comes to yoga. Therefore, yoga towels are important because a more stable practice improves balance as well. 

4. Adds Cushioning

Yoga might be a low-impact exercise but it can still put pressure on the joints. Some poses like the bird dog pose, for example, require you to support your weight on your knees. Therefore, those who have knee problems might find this uncomfortable without proper cushioning. 

Yoga mats provide additional cushioning. They also come in various thicknesses that suit the different needs of each person. 

It never hurts to add another layer of protection especially if you have a history of joint problems. For this purpose, the yoga towel is the perfect addition to your yoga gear.

5. Keep Mats Clean 

Yoga towels keep your mats clean longer because they literally cover your mat.

The sweat that drips all over the mat makes it dirty and stinky while also causing any dust in the area to soil your mat.

No one enjoys the smell of dried human sweat. Hence, the use of yoga towels helps absorb sweat and keeps your yoga mats fresh. 

While it is possible to wash a yoga mat, it’s also possible and much easier to wash a yoga towel.

6. Reduces Sweat Deterioration

Sweat tends to break down the surface of the mat. In fact, human sweat helps to break in brand new mats. In the long run, however, dripping sweat all over yoga mats will destroy their surface material and reduce their usable life. 

Adding a yoga towel on top of your mat gives it a protective cover that is effective in absorbing sweat before it reaches the surfaces of your mat. Therefore, slowing down your mat’s wear and tear. 

7. Reduces Friction Deterioration

The friction between your hands/feet and your yoga mat will, in time, wear a hole right through your yoga mat. We’re not exaggerating here, one of our more frugal Charmed Yoga Team Members has finally replaced old yoga mats when she could actually see through them.

A yoga towel on top of your mat will all but eliminate this type of yoga mat damage.

P.S. In a funny aside, one of our team members is bald and does a lot of inversions in his practice. If his head is not freshly shaven, that stuble can really tear up his mat. He places a towel under his head when doing head stands.

8. A More Sanitary Practice 

Do you know what else comes with sweat? Bacteria.

Having sweat dry on a mat makes a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Putting a yoga towel on top of a mat creates a barrier between you and these bacteria. 

This is especially important for those who use publicly available yoga mats in the gym or yoga studio.

9. Easy To Wash 

Yoga mats need to be washed sometimes but its a hassle and constant washing will damage your yoga mat’s surface. Putting a yoga towel on top of a yoga mat keeps the yoga mat cleaner so they don’t have to be washed as often and yoga towels are way easier to wash than yoga mats. 

There are no special instructions in washing yoga towels, depending on the material, simple handwashing would do. More often than not, however, yoga towels are safe to be washed in the clothes washing machine. 

10. Can Replace Mats 

Yoga towels can also be used on their own. However, you would need thicker yoga towels for this. Remember that yoga towels are not made as thick as yoga mats. If you have joint problems, you might need to use yoga towels with a yoga mat.

11. Travel Friendly

Yoga towels can easily be folded up in your luggage and take a much smaller space than even the most travel-friendly yoga mat.

Traveling with your yoga towel gives you the option to practice when a yoga mat is available, or to cover up a public yoga mat so your do not share the last person’s sweat.

Travel Yoga Towel – Photo Credit – Canva Pro

Disadvantages of Using a Yoga Towel

Yoga mats do have a lot of advantages but like everything else, they also come with some disadvantages. We think that the disadvantages of owning a yoga towel do not cancel out the advantages that come with it. But, they’re worth discussing just the same. 

1. Additional Cost  

Good yoga towels cost more than your average bath towels. Yoga towel prices range from $15 to $80 depending on the thickness, absorption capacity, materials used, and brand.  

Since yoga towels are often partnered with yoga mats, this adds to the cost of yoga practice and can be off-putting for some people. 

However, I always say that yoga is an investment the result of which is a holistic view of wellness. Yoga towels might seem insignificant to be spending bucks on, but it goes a long way towards creating successful yoga sessions that in turn, makes you a healthier and happier person. 

2. Some Are Not Absorbant

Yoga towels do a better job than normal towels to absorb sweat, however, it also depends on the quality of your yoga towel. If you go for yoga towels that do not have great reviews or are simply cheaply made, you might be compromising on absorbency and missing many of the advantages of using a yoga towel.. 

Some kinds of yoga, such as Bikram Yoga, tend to be really sweaty and thus require a highly absorbent yoga towel to keep you dry and steady. If your yoga towel is not made of good quality materials then it might get waterlogged and cause you to slip, therefore, risking injuries. 

3. Takes Time To Get Used To

Yoga towels might also take some time to get used to. This could be an additional adjustment for those who are just beginners to the practice.

However unlike yoga mats, there’s no need to break in yoga towels, so you get used to it pretty fast. 

4. Some Dyes Bleed When Washed 

One of the factors that make yoga towels very appealing is that they come in a vast array of colors and designs. Some even have inspirational yoga messages on them to keep you motivated during yoga sessions. 

However, some of these colorful dyes used in yoga towels are not really made for washing in a machine and they might stain your other clothes. Make sure to read the labels of the yoga towel before washing them. 

We often recommend trying a test soak first. Get a basin and fill it with water, fully submerge your yoga towel and observe if the dyes will bleed. Good yoga gear companies often do not have this issue. 

5. Not Grippy When Dry 

This is going to sound a little crazy, but some yoga towels need to be a little wet to really be grippy.

Many yoga towels need to be sprayed with water to activate their grip and traction. You do not have to make it dripping wet, just mist the surface with a bottle of water to ensure the best possible grip.

Not all yoga mats need to be made wet before use because they have a good grip even when dry. However, others must be moist to not be slick and all yoga towels have a better grip when moist. 

How To Use Yoga Towels – Photo Credit – Canva Pro

Yoga Towel Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes A Good Yoga Towel? 

When it comes to choosing a yoga towel there are three important factors to consider: moisture absorption, size, and grip. A good yoga towel is made up of materials that have a nonslip surface that does not get waterlogged easily thus, keeping you dry and stable during practice. 

Good quality yoga towels have very absorbent surfaces. These are often yoga towels are made from microfiber fabric but other kinds of fabrics can be used as well such as nylon, polyester, and polyamide. 

Yoga towels are also non-slip at the surface but I recommend that you get yoga mats that are also non-slip at the bottom. This will allow your yoga towel to grip the surface of your yoga mat better and prevent it from bunching up and slipping

Finally, getting the right size yoga towel is crucial. You do not want a yoga towel that is too short for your mat because it just defeats its purpose. At the same time, you don’t want them to be too long for your mat as they could bunch up and lose grip during practice. 

How to Use A Yoga Towel? 

A Yoga towel is very straightforward to use. You only need to lay it on top of your yoga mat. Make sure that it covers the entire length of your mat and is not bunching up. You also need to mist the surface of your mat with water to activate its grip. 

Do I Need To Get A Yoga Towel Wet?

You do not need to get your yoga towel soaking wet. You only need to mist it with water. This activates the grip of your mat. Most yoga towels have very little traction when dry, so make sure to keep a spray bottle handy. 

Do I Need To Always Use A Yoga Towel?

You do not always need to use a yoga towel. However, yoga towels have advantages that are too significant to overlook. Yoga towels provide traction and grip and help maintain the integrity of your mat longer.

We believe that if one is serious about making yoga a part of their daily routine, then one should invest in quality gear that goes a long way towards honing their practice. Yoga towels can add costs but they are effective. 

At the end of the day, it is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of using a yoga towel. But based on experience, yoga towels have helped me ease into yoga faster. 

Is It Okay To Use  A Yoga Towel Without A Yoga Mat

It is okay to use a yoga towel without a yoga mat. Some yoga towels are thicker than normal and can provide cushions for your joints. However, for better traction and more cushioning, a yoga towel is often partnered with a yoga mat. 

Yoga towels are functional, they can easily be kept in bags to substitute for your yoga mat when you don’t have it handy. You can also put it on top of the gym-provided mats so you can still have additional cushioning underneath while being sanitary. 

Will A Yoga Towel Make Your Yoga Mat Last Longer

A yoga towel will make your yoga mat last longer. Yoga towels prevent sweat from dripping on your yoga mat thus keeping it cleaner. Since you don’t have to wash your mat as often it doesn’t get exposed to chemicals that might break down its surface. 

Sweat itself can expedite the wear and tear of your mat, so having a yoga towel on top of it preserves its integrity. Besides, yoga towels are easier to clean than yoga mats. 

Yoga mats are also more sanitary because sweat on yoga mats makes it a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive that can get you infected with skin problems and fungi. 

Are There Alternatives to Using A Yoga Towel? 

Yoga towels are used to add traction and keep your mats cleaner. However, there are other options available in the market that can also improve grip and sanitation such as yoga socks. 

In the next section below, I will be going through some of the alternatives that people often use and how they hold up against yoga towels 

Yoga Towel vs Regular Towel

Yoga TowelRegular Towel
Sweat-absorbent and keeps dry during practice Absorbs sweat but can become wet easily 
Has a nonslip surface Does not have a nonslip surface 
Has additional grip at the bottomTends to bunch up and move during practice 
Comes in various thicknesses for cushioning needs Thin and rough and does not have extra cushioning 
Yoga Towel Vs Regular Towel

Yoga Towel vs Yoga Socks 

Yoga TowelYoga Socks
Absorbs sweat during practice Does not absorb sweat from the body 
Has a nonslip surface Have grippy bottoms 
Does not allow sweat to drip on the matAllows sweat to drip into the mat 
Keeps mat clean from sweat and dirt from feet, shoes, etc. Keeps mat clean from dirt tracked by feet and shoes only 
Yoga Towel Vs Yoga Socks

How To Wash A Yoga Towel

Washing a yoga towel is uncomplicated. The first step is to read the label and check if it can be machine washed. If yes, then do a test soak to check to see if the dye will bleed. If not then you can safely mix it in with your laundry for a normal wash. 

One of the advantages of a yoga towel is that it is way easier to wash than a yoga mat. Yoga mats can be very heavy when wet and therefore cannot be accommodated by smaller washing machines. You do not have this problem with yoga towels. 

However, since yoga towels come in various colors and designs, some dyes might bleed. This is not a thing to worry about as a test soak can show you if it bleeds or not. After washing, you just need to hang yoga towels to dry and you’re once again free to use them for the days to come. 



Some of the Charmed Yoga Team love using a yoga towel. Others never use them.

Most of us keep a yoga towel around and use it for sweatier practices, when traveling, or when taking the kids to the beach or playground and we want a place to practice while they play.

How bout you? Do you love yoga towels? Why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts on your comment box below.

Charmed Yoga Team

The Charmed Yoga Team is made up of an eclectic group of yoga enthusiasts with a wide range of experience, age, sex, and even how seriously they take their yoga practice. For each article, one team member takes the lead then the team reworks the article to make sure that the information included is on point for all kinds of yogis. ~Namaste

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