Why Would Anyone Want To Straddle a Yoga Mat?

I enjoy practicing at different Bikram yoga studios, because while the basic premise is the same, there are always one or two unique features at each studio that help me in my practice. But one thing I find confusing is the way that different studios handle the three postures following the balancing series (Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose, Triangle Pose and Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose). I have experienced three different methods.


Some studios have students turn their mats so that they continue to face the front mirrors, some have students turn themselves so that they face the left side of the studio, while others have students continue to face front, but stand on the carpet to the left side of the mat. In this third version, the students straddle the mat when in the posture, placing their feet on the carpet on either side of the mat.

I prefer the second option for several reasons.

  • Turning your body, allows you a side view of yourself in the front mirror, which is very helpful for checking your heel alignment. It also lets you sneak a peek at how flat your back is when you are pulling in Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose and can help you diagnose and eliminate “duck butt” in Triangle.
  • As a germaphobe, I like that I stay fully on my own mat, rather than standing on the carpet which I am sure is covered in other people’s sweat. It must be easier for the studio that way too, I would think.
  • Lastly, I am pleased that we don’t have to turn the mats, which of course creates a lot of problems readjusting them so everyone can see once the mats are turned back to the front for the rest of class.

I don’t mind turning my mat if the class is not particularly crowded, but the third option (straddling the mat) baffles me. Why not keep everyone on his or her own mat? Not only is it cleaner, but also safer.

When I am forced to straddle my mat, I feel less secure in the postures. My feet slip and I worry about injuring myself. The first time this happened, I wondered if my muscles were weak since I was used to the extra traction from the towel on the mat, but even when I concentrated exclusively on fully engaging both legs, I slipped. I find myself avoiding a full expression of the posture and just counting down the seconds until we can release. Not a great way to spend the time.

Lucky for me, this third version is rare, at least in my experience. I have only seen it in Hawaii and California. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Fellow yogis, which method do you prefer?

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6 thoughts on “Why Would Anyone Want To Straddle a Yoga Mat?

  1. While I don’t like it, the value to straddling is in fact the extra work it takes not to slip. I will, though, grab my towel and turn it with me, so I am on it when straddling the mat (I agree about gross carpet). I first did this at World Headquarters, and whenever it happens in my travels (or even the few teachers who toss it in as a game changer at my home studio), I can feel the benefits in my inner thighs.


  2. Ugh. We straddle the mat in my Bikram class and I always wondered if there were other options. I feel like the positions, especially triangle pose is hard with feet planted on the carpet. It takes more effort and I too don’t like germs.


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