Recently, I approached a student of mine whom I noticed had placed a blanket underneath her mat while setting up for class. When I inquired about it, she said it was to pad her bony vertebrae and knees–she couldn’t lay down or kneel without it without her bones digging into the hard floor. I asked her if she had noticed any wrist pain since she began using this technique, and (as I expected) she said she had. I have spoken with many students who do this, or some variation: they use two, even three mats instead of one, thinking that it does their joints a favor. The truth is, however, using more than one mat has an adverse affect on some of the most used joints in yoga: the wrists.

Although it may sound luxurious to stretch on soft surfaces, doing so makes it difficulty to evenly distribute your weight, and puts added strain on certain pressure points. Using a blanket to pad the knees during lunges, or the coccyx during savasana is A-OK; building up padding beneath the hands and wrists is not so good. Think about doing a down dog on your bed (or try it!). With such a forgiving surface, not only is it hard to stay balanced, you’ll notice your fingers and palms rest much higher than the wrist. When this happens, your wrist bears the brunt of your body weight and tires much more quickly. The result is a nagging wrist pain that often makes you want to pad your hands more–don’t do it! Try instead going down to one mat, or even the hardwood floor. Feel free to keep a blanket nearby, should you need it for your knees or back–or bite the bullet and invest in a denser mat that will keep your bones off the hard floor. Whatever you do, keep those hands on a firm surface and keep a spreading those fingers wide!

3 thoughts on “Are Two Mats Better Than One??

  1. I have a lot of wrist issues due to a car accident a while back..sometimes I put wrists under the tip of the folded mat and my fingers on the floor during DD. It makes my wrists a bit higher than my palms and fingers.. what do you think?

    1. It may depend on the kind of wrist pain you have–is the pain right in the bony part of the joint, or does it feel like the muscles surrounding the joint get tired? I would recommend trying down dog with your whole hand(s) on the hard floor, and focus on spreading your fingers wide, pressing all your knuckles into the ground, and sealing all the air out from underneath your palms (and make sure your feet aren’t slipping during this experiment!). See if it makes any difference, and if not, let me know!

    2. Hi Debbie,
      I also thought of one more option for you. If down dog really doesn’t feel good on the wrists, you can modify with “extended puppy pose.” This pose is great for stretching out the shoulders and lengthening the back, while relieving nearly all pressure from the hands/wrists. Here is a picture and description of the pose, via Yoga Journal:

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