To Bring Your Yoga Mat, or Not To Bring Your Yoga Mat

Yoga mats are many things, but one of the things they are not is international travel-convenient.

Regardless of whether you use a light Tapas one (3.2 pounds,) or a heavy duty Prana Revolution one (9 pounds), yoga mats are bulky and awkward, and they have to be rolled and stored in special cylindrical bags which count as carry-on! I can't tell you how many times I've stood over my suitcase on the eve of a trip and wondered whether or not to take my mat, whether to pay the extra fee for the additional baggage...

Here's what I've learned in my years of travelling avec and sans my faithful mat: There are as many reasons to bring it with you as there are for leaving it behind. Seriously, the Pro column and the Con column are even! Because of this, I’ve come up with a different lens through which to see the conundrum.

1. How much luggage are you bringing? If you’re light packer or will be checking your bag, bring your mat. One additional bag while you shuttle from airport to métro to taxi to wherever won’t make that big of a difference. Because once you’re settled, your mat will sit politely in a corner while it waits to be taken for a downward dog walk.

2. How do you feel about borrowing a yoga mat? If you don’t mind practicing on a rental mat, great! Remember that it will probably set you back a couple of euros on top of the class price. If you’re even the slightest bit germophobic, pack some mat cleaning wipes with you. These Jo-Sha ones are biodegradable and smell really good.

I travel very light, and try to be as streamlined as possible. For this reason, my suitcase usually has enough room in it for a folded yoga mat. This mat is thinner than the one I use normally—if I need extra padding in anjaneyasana, I can borrow a blanket for additional cushion (and no one ever charges for blanket rental! Score!) A yoga mat has some good non-yoga uses as well: I’ve used mine as an impromptu picnic blanket, as a light and draft guard when hotel room doors were poorly sealed at the bottom, and as protection for fragile mementos or a new pair of shoes.

If you neither want to pack a yoga mat, nor borrow one, here are a few places that sell them: Yoga Concept (3ème,) Be Yoga (14ème,) Centre Sivananda (10ème,) Decathlon (1er and 13ème,) Himayoga (9ème), Kiria (6ème,) Rasa Yoga Rive Gauche (5ème,) Lolë Paris (4ème) and Anima Athletica (16ème.)