So do you need a yoga mat? In short the answer is YES.
The first thing to purchase as part of your yoga kit, is your very own mat. Many of the other bits and bobs we use in a yoga class can be substituted pretty well with household items (a yoga block with a book, cushion or folded blanket, a yoga strap with a belt or scarf), but a yoga mat is more than just a physical surface to practice on, it has greater significance that that.....
So, the humble yoga mat. A space to practise yoga postures on. It presents itself in many shapes, sizes and prices - from eco, travel, thick, thin, cotton, cork, durable, latex free, super-light....the list goes on. All that is required is a sturdy mat to compliment you and your practice, preferably non-stick and non-slip. Some people prefer thinner mats to thicker ones, bright colours to neutral colours, expensive mats to lower priced mats. But the preference and choice is yours, and personally I have a mat exactly the same as the one I have for all my students in class - nothing more fancy or expensive and it serves me just fine.
But more than that, by using your own mat you are building an association between your practice and the mat. Think of your mat as your favourite toy, something that provides a deep containment and helps to soothe you (the toy in psychological terms is seen as a transitional object. To help the child endure the idea of separation from the parent, from dependence to independence). Your yoga mat will help nurture an independent practice away from the sessions, whether that is physical postures and movement, or simply some breathing practice,a deep relaxation or meditation.
Your own yoga mat allows you to create a personal space to practice yoga. You can unroll this mat anytime, anyplace, anywhere - home, holiday, in the park, even at work. So even if you don't bring your mat to class (although you are very welcome to), here are some reasons to own your own yoga mat:
Reasons to have your own yoga mat:
Helps to build up a strong link with your yoga practice
You can take this mat with you, wherever you wish
You get to choose which type of mat you buy
Helps create a yoga space for you in your own home, or elsewhere
Gives you a sense of connection with yoga (away from the class setting)
Feet rooted to the same mat, creates a feeling of familiarity, warmth
You are more likely to do a little practice at home if you see your yoga mat
If you do bring your own mat to class, then mat in hand, out the door, the connection with yoga begins before you arrive to the class