Fungus. Bacteria. Viruses. All of these things can accumulate on our yoga mats.
As yogis, we expose a significant amount of bare skin to our yoga mats, which opens us up for the potential of spreading and contracting the organisms that hitch a ride on our bodies.
As I've mentioned before, shared yoga mats are okay to use in a pinch, but purchasing your own mat is crucial for cleanliness. Sure, you can wipe a borrowed mat down with the sprays commonly offered by studios, but do you really trust that the place your lay your face doesn't still have some booty residue on it from it's previous tenant? (sorry...bad visual).
And don't think you're totally in the clear by using your own mat - there's plenty of nasty stuff that can transfer from the floor to the bottom of your mat (sweaty feet and dirty sneakers have more than likely traversed that same space). Plus, a build up of dirt can cause a once sticky mat to feel slippery and treadless.
But have no fear....here are 4 simple things you can do to give your mat the best chance at cleanliness:
1. Be Clean
First thing's first - make sure you're clean before jumping into those down dogs. You don't necessarily need a full shower, but washing your hands and feet before class is a quick and easy way to keep your mat clean. Washing your hands after class is also a great way to keep bacteria off our faces, phones, and everything else we touch throughout our day.
2. Roll it Right
One of the most common mistakes yogis make happens when they're packing up to leave a class. Rolling your mat the right way is HUGE in making sure the nasties on the floor stay on the bottom of your mat, and not on the top where you practice. Here are step-by-step instructions to show you how to roll your mat properly (I used my daughter's mat because the pattern obviousy illustrates the top and the bottom of the mat. Also, butterflies).
Lay your mat flat on the ground, standing at the bottom where your feet would be in Down Dog
Grab the bottom corners of your mat and flip them to the to top corners. Your mat should now be folded in half.
From here, grab the folded end by your feet and begin rolling up towards the top.
The rolled edge of your mat should look like this.
3. Wipe it Off
Sprays and wipes offered by studios shouldn't be our only defense against the dark arts, but it's definitely one of many in the arsenal of weapons we should use. Use these tools before AND after each class. You can also purchase or make your own spray using a blend of essential oils known to kill bacteria. I received this bottle in my Yogi Surprise box and absolutely love it - not only does it clean my mat, but it leaves a delicious lavender mint scent behind!
4. Give it a Bath
Treat your mat to a spa day! Once a month, submerge your mat in the bathtub with warm water mixed with a gentle detergent. Use your hands or a cloth to wipe down every inch of your mat. Rinse and hang to dry!
Keep in mind these rules apply to props too. If we plan on using a block or strap in our practice, it's a good idea to give it a quick wipe down before and after class. Stay clean, my friend