A hand-painted yoga mat personalizes your practice. It allows you to adorn your yoga space with a specific image, mantra or design. Of course, you can purchase hand-painted mats from individual artists, but they cost upwards of $200 and may not do the image you want justice.
Perk up your plain mat by painting it yourself. It sounds complicated and even a little dangerous — what if you use the wrong paint or make a mess? It's really quite easy, however.
Try out your craft skills on an old mat. You can definitely practice on a mat you've painted; the image should last for several months or years, depending on how often and rigorously you practice. However, know that the paint will suffer wear and tear, like any mat surface does, with time.
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Choose the Right Mat
The mat type you choose is important. You'll have the most luck painting on a mat made from a plastic-based material, such as PVC. The paint won't markedly change the texture on this type of mat, either. If anything, it might get a little stickier.
Get Acrylic Paint
Plain old acrylic paint you find in the crafting aisle does the trick on a PVC mat. Gloss paint looks best. If you decide to paint on a cotton or jute mat, you'll likely have to use fabric paint.
Fabric markers will also work on PVC, but give you a more muted effect. The markers may give you more control when drawing, however.
Set Up a Work Area
Lay out newspaper or an old bed sheet to work on. Gather your materials and clean any dirt or body oils away from the mat (if you're using an old one) using water and a little dish soap.
Pencil Out Your Design
Free-handing on a yoga mat will likely result in crooked shapes and imprecise lines. Use masking tape to create geometric shapes, stencils for lettering, rulers for straight lines and pencils for outlines. Remove any lingering pencil lines after the paint dries with an eraser or a sponge dipped in water and dish soap.
Use a Sponge Brush
A paint brush does give you painterly strokes, but it tends to take a very long time to fill in your design. A sponge brush gets into the crevices of your mat more thoroughly.
Do More Than One Coat
Let the first coat dry. Wherever you have thick lines or blocks of color, it's best to go over your first coat a second time to fill in cracks. A regular paint brush does a good job on this coat.
Finish With Any Detail Work
If you've planned a design with a lot of small details — such as outlines around flowers or small lettering — do it after the larger work is dry and complete. Use a fine tipped brush for this detail.
If you regularly practice hot yoga, it's best to have a non-painted mat for those sessions. The paint doesn't stand up well to the extra heat, humidity and sweat.
If you locate your designs to the edges of the mat, it will likely last longer, too. This area of your mat gets a lot less wear so the paint stays intact.
A permanent marker will create designs on a yoga mat, too. However, your pictures will rub off quickly and leave residue on your skin and clothes when you practice — paint is a better choice.
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