DIY Yoga Bag and Yoga Mat
Today’s post is a two-parter. It’s all about yoga and how to make both a custom bag and a custom mat.
Yoga has been a big part of my life and fitness routine for the past 5 or so years. I encourage anyone new to give it a try! Here are my top 5 reasons for loving yoga, mixed with some common objections to yoga I hear all the time:
- “It’s too slow and boring.” I never find myself bored; if something seems easy, you can challenge yourself with modifications and go deeper into poses. A good instructor will give you both more and less intense options.
- It’s both physically and mentally challenging. And never depleting – I always feel 10x more rejuvenated afterwards. Not many other physical activities can do that.
- It keeps me grounded in the present moment. It’s a funny thing – the less you use your brain during yoga, the better you will be. Turning your thinking off is key, and it’s one of the few places I feel able to do that for consecutive minutes – maybe even a whole hour – at a time. By tuning into your body and each muscle group and really listening to the instructions and nuances of each posture, you can stop any mental chitchat and plug into being 100% physically present. It’s the mind-body connection that puts you into a state of flow.
- “Other people will judge me”. Nope. If you’re self-conscious or worried about regular yogis judging your “amateur” performance in class, I can promise you that’s just not the point. It’s not a competition. Everyone is on his or her own journey and everyone’s a student. Most people don’t care what’s happening outside their own mat. Your instructor may suggest adjustments, but feel free to do whatever feels best to you. You know your own body best and the point is to tune into what it’s telling you, not to compare to what others may or may not be able to do. I was once told it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to take a child’s pose (rest) when needed; always honor your own body.
- Flexibility and active recovery. If you’re a serious athlete and think you’re above yoga, I got news for you. Even the most elite athletes need rest days. Yoga is great for active recovery. It allows you to keep on moving while still allowing your body to heal itself so you will be able to compete at that high level again and be at your best. It helps to stretch your muscles; you’ll definitely increase your flexibility. It’s not about all the cool poses. Ok, it’s a little bit about all the cool poses. But you’ll be most amazed at the simple poses that grow on you and how your flexibility improves week over week.
Ok, I could clearly give you 10+ reasons why I recommend yoga to anyone, but I’ll save that speech for another time. If you’re looking for fun ways to customize your mat and bag, this one’s for you. Any reason to make exercise more fun, right?
DIY Yoga Bag
Let’s start with the bag. My old yoga mat bag finally fell apart and I couldn’t find a decent replacement. I really wanted a bag that had a pocket for my phone, keys, yoga mat spray and anything else to avoid bringing a purse to class. I also wanted an across-the-body strap and a drawstring top. I seriously could not find anything I liked! So I decided to try sewing one. It’s pretty straightforward and I included my pattern below.
- About 1 square yard of athletic fabric
- Sewing machine, thread, scissors
- Shoe laces or some kind of drawstring
There are a couple of my pattern pieces below. If you download these and print them for yourself, they should be the actual sizes to use. For the main piece of fabric, measure it using your rolled up mat for size, and give yourself some extra so it fits inside loosely. For the strap, measure that depending on your height and size.
I learned a really neat trick recently for rolling up your mat. If you grab it from the center, fold it in half the hamburger way and roll it up, you get this yin yang! And, you won’t have to deal with flattening out those curled ends every time you unroll it. Pro tip provided by Experience Life magazine.
Cut out your measured main piece of fabric and finish the edges.
Sew the pocket on first. Cut out the piece and iron down the unfinished edges so your pocket will have nice smooth corners.
You can then sew the pocket onto the front. Then sew the seam of your bag together, inside out.
Next, we’ll do the bottom. Keeping it inside out, pin your circle around the bottom of the bag and sew all the way around. Trim the excess.
Now let’s do the top. Keeping it inside out, fold down about 1.5″ allowance to make the drawstring cavity. Sew all the way around.
Now you can flip the whole bag rightside out. Poke two holes with a seam ripper and feed your shoelace string all the way around and out the other side. Like a hoodie.
Finally, make a strap.
I like the across body straps. Using your fabric, press and sew a strap. I found it best to sew this on afterwards, but feel free to do it at the beginning as well. I attached one end up at the top and the other where the bottom of the bag meets the main part.
That’s it! You can complete this in a few hours and a few dollars. I found my fabric piece was enough to make two bags. I love the pocket for stashing my phone, glasses, drivers license, yoga mat spray and a few post-workout snacks.
DIY Yoga Mat
This part I am super excited about. YOART reached out to me asking if I was interested in designing a custom yoga mat and I immediately started making my own design. This post is in no way sponsored by them; they only provided the yoga mat for me to try and enjoy! It gets my stamp of approval.
Designing your Mat
You are able to upload any image or photo that you’ve created. I found some royalty-free graphics I liked and put them together. Then I sent my pdf over for production!
Dola was incredibly friendly and very responsive with any proofing and questions.
They even suggested a background color for me that would look best.
And I got the finished product in the mail about a week later!
It’s a really different type of yoga mat than I’m used to. I’d never seen this style before so I was curious to try it out. It has a velvety finish and it’s extremely thin.
I gave it a test drive in the yoga studio and it had all the same grip as my regular mat. Although it was comfortable for me, if you have bad joints or are worried it would hurt your knees, I would stick with a traditional mat or layer it on top of one. They do have other styles on the website as well.
I found it’s excellent for outdoor yoga. If you want to stay barefoot but want a mat for comfort, this is awesome. I had that strong connection with the ground, but my feet stayed dry and warm, and I still had the corners of the mat for guides. Plus, grass is itchy.
Worked great in the sand as well. I can see how it would be perfect for hot yoga too.
The best part about this mat is that it’s super lightweight. You can roll it up and fold it up. It’s like a towel. You can probably fit it into a large purse. It’s great for weekend trips and would fit in a suitcase easily.
Also, this puppy is machine washable, which I tried immediately after trudging it through the wet sand. It came out of the wash great and I air dried it. If you’ve ever washed a traditional mat in your bathtub, you know how much of a chore it is. It’s also nontoxic and passes high European and American environmental standards. I think it would be great to add a personal mantra or intention that you like to dedicate your practice to. Find them here if you’re interested. Overall, it was really fun designing my own mat that I can take with me wherever my little heart desires.