Yoga bags – a pretty specific product for a pretty specific group of people. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much to say about them – hey, if they fit your mat and maybe a couple other things, you’re good to go. And for a lot of people that’s absolutely true.
At the bare minimum, all you really need is a mat strap (see below) and you are ready to take your mat and your practice wherever life leads you. And on the opposite side of the spectrum you have oversized yoga duffel bags that accommodate practically everything you might need on a yoga excursion. And in between, well…it’s a mixed bunch. Let’s go through the crowd and see what’s here.
Yoga Mat Straps
Yoga mat straps use two loops at the ends of a long belt material. Slip the rolled up mat into the loops , toss the belt over your shoulder so the weight of the mat pulls the loops taught and off you go.
They’re definitely the most simple and probably the most practical solution if you’re on the go and all you need is to keep your yoga mat rolled up. Yoga mat straps are great because they take all of ten seconds to wrap and unwrap your mat, they’re almost weightless, and they’re super cheap.
- Easy to use
- That’s all they do
Yoga Mat Bags
Just like the name implies, they’re long, thin bags with a shoulder strap. Toss your rolled up mat inside the bag, sling it over your shoulder or across your chest.
Mat bags come in lots of varieties. The simplest of them are just a bag and a strap. Luckily though bag manufacturers have realized that many yogis and yoginis are into having some extra space in their bags for stuff that comes with them to their asana practice. So many of them have popped in a pocket or two on the inside or outside.
Inside pockets, outside pockets, zippers, buttons, flaps, rope, groovy fabrics, and so on. All of the big names in yoga gear make some kind of bag like this, and there are a ton of smaller companies and individuals who produce short runs of yoga bags as well. You can find these bags everywhere from big-name online retailers to fitness stores.
- Easy to use
- Relatively affordable
- Probably room for other stuff along with your mat
- More costly and bulkier than a mat strap, without much more functionality
- Quality can vary – watch out for bad zippers, cheap fabric and so on
Yoga Duffel Bags and Yoga Backpacks
These are more recent developments, and quite welcome for many people. They’re bigger, they’re often more complex, and their defining characteristic is often (but not always) two shoulder straps for the bag to ride on your back, rather than a single sling-style strap for one shoulder or across the chest.
The idea behind a yoga duffel bag or backpack is to accommodate a yoga mat while potentially accommodating lots of other things as well. And the truth is, there are a lot of people for whom this makes a lot of sense. If you never practice outside your home then a yoga backpack is more or less unnecessary. Or if your practice space outside your home provides a yoga mat that stays there, then you probably only need a normal backpack for a change of clothes, toiletries, and maybe a strap and block for your asana practice.
But for active yogis, particularly those who travel, who teach, who explore, who multitask, and/or who have busy days, a backpack that carries a yoga mat makes a lot of sense. A well-designed yoga backpack can combine the functions of two or even three bags and backpacks into one, relieving an active yogi or yogini of carrying multiple bags around during the day.
Full-sized yoga backpacks and bags have two important and related advantages over other yoga mat carriers: first, along with a yoga mat they can accommodate large items that other solutions cannot; and second, because of their larger space, they can potentially eliminate one or two other bags that a yogi or yogini would otherwise carry along for their day: things like purses, gym bags, suitcases, and school packs can all potentially be left behind if your yoga bag is up for the job.
A few of you might be asking yourself, what would a yogi or yogini need to carry alongside a yoga mat? If that’s a difficult question to answer, you probably don’t need a yoga backpack in the first place. But in the interest of clarity, here are a few examples of when a yoga backpack is the right idea:
- A student who has a yoga class right after a college class
- A young professional who has a morning yoga class before work and goes to the gym after work
- A retreat attendee who leaves her hotel room with a purse, backpack, and yoga mat bag for her day’s activities
It’s probably right to assume that full-on yoga backpacks are not for most casual yogis and yoginis.They’re a bit more expensive than most occasional practitioners would be interested in putting into their practice, and they accommodate things that occasional practitioners probably don’t worry too much about, like changes of clothes, additional yoga tools such as blocks and straps, and so on.
For people who have found a serious interest in yoga, however, a bag or backpack dedicated to their practice likely makes a lot of sense. It keeps all of your practice materials in one place, organized, in a way that makes sense to you, and it’s made for the job you’re giving it, so you’re not awkwardly repurposing something was never intended to support a yoga practitioner.
- Flexible and roomy
- Replaces multiple bags
What’s Right For You
The right yoga bag mostly comes down to your lifestyle. No two yogis and yoginis are the same; we all have different schedules, practices, and approaches to incorporating yoga into our daily lives. Somewhere in the big mix of options available is the right choice for you.
If all you need is mat mobility, go with a strap. If you like bags and/or you need a few other things to come along with you on your asana practice, a more standard yoga mat bag is probably sufficient. And if you’re active, busy, and/or don’t like the clutter of multiple bags, then a yoga backpack might be the best investment you make this year.
Why Someone Needed To Create A Fully Functional Yoga Backpack
Maybe you’ve heard this story before:
A yogini/mother/businesswoman/traveler/shopper/life-lover is getting ready for asana practice, after which she has a couple errands to take care of before returning home. She needs her mat, block, purse, tablet, change of clothes, toiletries, and grocery list. And by the time she gets all of these things together, her arms are full and she’s carrying three different bags. She has to put things down to open and close the front door…same thing at the car.
Then there’s the story of the student who doesn’t want to run back to the apartment or dorm room after class to drop off books and notes, grab gym clothes and yoga mat, and then run back in time for yoga class…in fact, once they get to the apartment they’re pretty sure they’ll come up with a good excuse not to go to class.
Or how about the one about the people in the yoga retreat who leave the hotel or bungalow at 6am and don’t return until 8pm, during which time they have sweated through one outfit, changed into another, and are carrying wet bathing suits from their afternoon break when they all went swimming, the whole time carrying course notes with them.
These were, and are, the issues that many yogis and yoginis encounter in their journeys to incorporate yoga into their lives. Like everything else, yoga is not a stand-alone activity. It fits into peoples’ lives like everything else, it’s another piece of the puzzle. For many people, a fully functional and intentionally designed yoga bag is a small but important tool that helps fit that puzzle together more easily.