I heard many people saying: I am not as advanced to practice on the cotton rug. It's more slippery and it is much harder to hold myself on the rug. Maybe when I get stronger I will get one for myself.
Yes, it's right, it is much harder to practice on a cotton rug than an extra grippy mat.
But that's the point!
How do you wanna get stronger without practicing your strength, grip and inner muscles during your yoga practice, if not by practicing it?
Extra sticky mat makes standing poses much easier, because your feet just stick to the surface and stay where you place them until you don't come out of the posture.
Standing yoga poses like: prasarita padottanasana (A, B, C & D), Utthita Parshvakonasana & Parivritta Parshvakonasana are the poses where you have your legs spread wide and you need to integrate your inner muscles to hold yourself steady on the mat.
What happens if you take advantage of the grip from the mat?
If you use a sticky mat, your legs don't need to work much to stay in one place, they simply stick to the surface.
The pressure will end up in the joints because muscles are not made to hold the body properly.
For example in prasarita padottanasana your ankles will be suffering, all the pressure will end up there.
If you use the cotton yoga rug instead you will need to work more with your inner legs muscles to prevent legs from sliding apart.
Standing postures are fundamental for ashtanga yoga practice. Thanks to them, you will make your legs strong which will give you more grounding. You will feel more grounded not only in asana practice but also in life.
We need a strong and stable foundation so we can build on it, either it's our practice or life itself. Our legs represent a strong base and foundation so we can be well grounded and supported in our day to day lives.
Try a small experiment: If you feel that you are living a bit of a hectic period and you feel ungrounded, do more asanas where you practice your legs or simply go trekking or hiking. This will definitely help and for sure you will be able to handle all the struggles and stand strongly on your legs.
Use your uddiyana bandha in downward facing dog!
Downward dog is a pose where you spend quite some time during ashtanga yoga practice. During sun salutation A & B you stay there for 5 breaths. One round of breath (inhalation + exhalation) lasts approximately 10 sec., 10 sec. X 5 breaths = 50 second.
With 10 rounds of sun salutations you end up on 500 sec = approx. 8 minutes.
Totally you are spending approx. 8 minutes in the same position + the transitions.
Quiet decent time to consider if I am making the pose correctly and if I am using all the muscles needed in the pose.
Am I using everything the pose has to offer?
My teacher said: you should be able to do the down dog on the wooden floor with one towel under your hands and one towel under your legs.
Try it now! Yes, this is exactly how your core & abdominal lock (uddiyana bandha) should be working in this position. Your abdominal strength is holding you in this position.
With the extra sticky mat you can not have this experience because the grip of the mat is working for you.
Sweat will help you...
The more you sweat the more you will grip.
After 3 or 4 sun salutations the body will heat up, sweat will appear on your body and your palms will stick to the cotton mat.
The same sweat which makes you slide on plastic or rubber mat will help you to hold yourself on the cotton rug.
Am I advanced enough to practice on the yoga rug?
First of all, there is no advanced and non advanced practitioner in asanas. Every effort counts. Consistency & willingness to stand on the mat every day counts!
The sooner you start to use the proper surface for practice, the better! Because the body will get used to it and eventually it will become easy.
If you really struggle at the beginning of the practice, sprinkle some water on the rug. Just on the spot where you place your hands. It will help you a lot to overcome the initial struggle.
Soft & extra cushioning surface for sitting postures
Some people use cotton rugs only for sitting poses. Once the standing asanas are finished, they roll out the rug and continue the sequence.
Yes, this is also the option but:
1. As I mentioned above, a non-sticky surface is also very much needed for standing poses.
2. Don't lose time between the practice to adjust your rug because you may lose the concertation and the flow of the breath. Once you set your rug at the beginning of the practice, it will stay the same until the end.
Cotton rug will give you extra cushioning for your joints in sitting poses and will support your neck in the closing sequence & inversions.
How to start the practice on cotton yoga rug?
There are no rules and regulations which are good for everybody. Always it depends on the individual practitioner, how he feels, what he wants to work on, how fast he wants to progress.
The 1st option is to start using the rug only for sitting positions. You will not find any difficulties at all. You will have time to get familiar with the rug and maybe later start using it for entire practice.
The 2nd option is that you can start using the rug over your mat from the sun salutations itself and spray the water, so you will get extra grip until you get sweaty.
3rd option: keep the spray by your side and spray the water on the rug only if it is absolutely necessary. For example in downward dog or prasarita padottanasana.
4th option: keep trying on the rug from the beginning. I know, you might feel a bit desperate in the beginning especially if you are used to practicing on the mat. You might feel a bit of sliding but you will get used to it very quickly, trust me!
I suggest that you give it a try and you can tell yourself how it feels.