The Art of Cleaning Your Yoga Mat by Keri-Ann Laurito
Over the years, I have realized that the yoga mat is a signature of who we are as students when it comes to a yoga practice. Yoga mats have become very mainstream and expensive with the quality being much better and environmentally friendly. Yoga mats have become a safe space and a sanctuary for yoga students. When you step onto a yoga mat there is an energy that changes and the experience as well. This little square of space is your space to be present and to do your practice. By keeping this sacred space clean is very important.
“You’re entering a sacred space when you practice, so the way you keep that space has an effect on what you get out of your practice” says Heather Lilleston, one of the founders of Yoga For Bad People.
As a yoga teacher, I should have known the answer very well to the question of how to clean your yoga mat. When I had a yoga studio, I was a cleaning
machine. I would steam clean the floors before and after each class, wipe down each yoga mat, block with Meyers Lavender Spray and paper towels and every eye mask cover would be machine washed.
Back in yoga teacher training in NYC, 14 years ago, we didn’t clean the yoga mats before or after we used them. At the time, I had very little yoga knowledge or experience when it came to yoga and protocols. At the studio where I was being trained at there was one large communal wall of yoga mats for students to use daily. If you ever took a class in NYC your yoga mat was lined up right next to one another in the classroom and there was a lot of sweat, which fell onto the yoga mats. There are a lot of feet touching the yoga mats which has always horrified me with the possibility of fungus, bacteria, infections, and being in a child’s pose you can’t help but smell the mat. This alone would be a great reason, to clean the yoga mat before and after each use.
Why do we have to clean our yoga mats?
The reason is simple because there are lots of germs on a yoga mat from you, anyone that used the mat before you and the floor where students walk barefoot or at times with dirty street shoes. Gym floors or floors, in general, can be very dirty, if they are not cleaned after every class. Have you ever been to a class or taught a class barefoot, only to see the bottom of your feet are black? A good way to protect your feet and keep your mat clean is by wearing yoga socks or using wipes to clean off your feet.
“Experts say a yoga mat is considered to be one of the dirtier things that you can use. And they are prone to transferring infections. For example, if a person who had a fungal skin infection were to use the mat before you, the next person to have contact with the mat is at risk for contracting the infection.” - Michael Lazar, HuffPost
We do need to clean our yoga mats and if we haven’t learned from COVID-19 is that we need to wash our hands more and be more vigilant to being careful and cleaning your yoga mat is going to be a necessity.
In our current situation, dealing with the pandemic of COVID-19, I was looking for wipes with bleach. Lysol Wipes are not advised because you would be inhaling and absorbing the chemicals when you are on your mat. I never thought of that since we are cleaning everything these days with bleach and Lysol. Stay with all-natural products or make your own sprays for cleaning.
Here is some way to clean your yoga mat:
· Apple Cider Vinegar and water in a spray bottle and use a soft cloth to wipe the yoga mat.
· Place the yoga mat in the bathtub with warm water and use a sponge, dish soap, or mild detergent to wash the mat in the water. Then to dry your mat, place it over a bathtub or over the shower doors to dry. A great place would be outside in the sun.
· Use Filtered water, spray bottles, and add essential oils; lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree for your homemade natural cleaner.
· Witch hazel and a water mixture along with any essential oil is another great option.
Try cleaning your yoga mat after you use it and try to bring your own yoga mat to the studio and gyms. Using a yoga towel over the top of your mat when laying down on it is another way to avoid germs because you can easily throw the towel into the laundry machine. There is always the option of purchasing an antibacterial yoga mat that helps with germs, bacteria, and smells.