What do you use your yoga mat for? Yoga? An extra seat when your friends are over? Talk about a failure of imagination! If you can’t afford or don’t want to go to the gym, you can do a total workout using only your body and yoga mat. In fact, there are at least 10 home exercises or routines you can do at home with just a yoga mat. Here they are:
The best thing you can do with your yoga mat is to use it for its intended purpose! Yoga is an ancient practice that comes in many variations. You can do a rigorous sequence of Ashtanga poses, or a more relaxed session of Kripalu. If you are just getting into yoga, make sure to read about the spiritual component of yoga.
This incredibly popular form of exercise can be done with just a stability ball or using only your body weight (and a yoga mat). Pilates routines combine strength, flexibility, and cardio exercises together in one super-effective workout. The health benefits include better posture, stronger joints, and full body conditioning.
This bodyweight exercise can be done anywhere… outside at the park, on top of a Jeep, at home on your yoga mat. Push ups are a total body workout, engaging your shoulders, back, and chest. Once you master basic push ups you can move on to one arm push ups, clapping push ups, and even planche push ups. Try for as many as you can in one set, or do 3 sets of about 20 each.
Most barre workouts require, well, a bar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a few moves at home. Practitioners of this style of exercise use a bar to build stability, flexibility, core strength, and lower leg strength. Plié squats and inner thigh lifts can be done in the comfort of your own home! Read more about the barre exercises you can do on your yoga mat here.
Lower Body Circuit
Start in a raised push up position. Bring one leg forward toward your chest, then return it back as you pull the other forward. Do these quickly for anywhere between 50 and 80 reps.
Stand with your feet planted shoulder length apart. With your hands out in front of you or behind your head, lower yourself into a squat position, keeping your back straight, until your quads are parallel with the ground. Do about 20-30 reps.
Single Leg Glute Bridge
Lay flat on your back on your yoga mat. Keeping your upper back on the mat, extend one leg up into the air while keeping the other foot planted on the ground. Raise your butt and lower back off the ground while keeping your leg in the air.
The world record for a plank is currently 5 hours and 15 minutes. Until you are ready to give the folks at Guinness a call, you can try to hold yours for 1-2 minutes. Support your weight with your forearms and toes, pulling your bellybutton in toward your spine. Don’t let the ache in your abs stop you from doing this exercise: it just means that it’s working!
Opposite Arm and Leg Lift
More work for your core! Apply that balance you learned from yoga to build your strength with this move. Start out on all fours, then extend your right arm and left leg far out. Hold the position for about 10 seconds and then switch appendages. Do 15 reps.
The Roll Up
If you ate too many fruit roll-ups as a kid, do some penitence with this grownup exercise. Start out lying on your back with your arms outstretched behind you. Take a deep breath and slowly roll up into a sitting position with your arms high above your head. Exhale as you slowly lower yourself back down onto the mat.