You Practice Yoga, Not Microbiology. Save the Petri Dishes for the Scientists and Clean Yo' Stanky Mat
"Please meet me in Child's Pose", you hear the yoga teacher coo at the beginning of class. Ambient music is playing in the background, and you feel your muscles begin to soften as you melt your heart towards the mat and nestle your forehead down. "Begin to deepen your breath" she continues, "taking a deep inhale through the nose". You take you first deep breath through your nose bringing your awareness inward and the smell of old sweat, bacteria, and mildew, begins to fill your nose cavity?! Suddenly you're no longer in your zen moment as you begin to panic. "Can my neighbor smell this?!?" "Wait, is it coming from my neighbor?!?". Your mind is suddenly racing. "Can I withstand this smell for the next 75 minutes?".
Beyond the obvious putrid smell of a dirty mat, there are several reasons why you should defunk your mat after EVERY use.
- No matter how clean a yoga studio is, there are dozens of people waking around sweating and BAREFOOT where you place your mat. Even if you practice on the same side of the mat every time, when you roll up your mat, you are also rolling up millions of microbes to take home with you. Then, you are letting it marinate on your mat on the way home, only to roll it back out and repeat the next time your practice. There is a compounding effect because these microbes are alive and are multiplying! Did you pay attention in biology? They don't even need a mate to reproduce. The hot climate of the yoga room and your sweaty, porous, mat is the perfect breeding ground for fungus and bacteria to reproduce. UGH!
- If you can smell it, your neighbor can DEFINITELY smell it. We tend to have a little nose blindness sometimes. Yoga fame is becoming a thing nowadays, but do you really want to be known as the Stinky Yogi?
- You're going to get sick! Ever notice how different "plagues" come and go from the studio? You wouldn't kiss the floor in a yoga studio would you? Well, unless your mat is clean, what do you think you're doing in Bikram's Half-Locust Pose? If you mat is not cleaned, it is probably dirtier than the floor because they actually clean that!
- Taking your hand towel and wiping the sweat off your mat at the end of class does not count as cleaning! You're really just rubbing it deeper into your mat. You've seen this method done and it's somewhat hysterical. "Whatever makes you feel better about your stinky mat, buddy".
- Your mat actually loses its grip over time as the salt and sweat breaks down the composition of the mat and oils from your hands and feet absorb into your mat over time.
- Do you really need any more reasons to practice good hygiene?
So, how do you actually clean your mat?!? Well, good news is that it is a lot easier than you would think.
- Buy a spray bottle
- Fill it halfway with water and halfway with Witch Hazel
- Add 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil with antibacterial properties. My recommendations are :Lavender, Eucalyptus, Tee Tree, Peppermint, there are many more. You can add any combination of these to make the scent tailored to what you like.
- Spray your mat on both sides thoroughly
- Don't keep your mat rolled up. Hang it to dry completely before the next use.
- At LEAST ONCE A WEEK, your mat needs a real bath -where it needs to be completely submerged in water and washed with detergent. Fill your bathtub with several inches of warm water, add soap, scrub it clean, and rise thoroughly with clean water.
This was a public service announcement requested by my dear friend and owner of Primp Style Lounge, Shannon Kessler. So take a cue from our beauty expert gal and give your mat a little Primpin' too!
Namaste UNSTANKY, Babes!