The yoga mat: one of the most low maintenance aspects of your yoga practice… or is it? For many, the mat becomes so familiar over years of use that we hardly give it a second thought. Roll it out, step on it for a while, and roll it back up, it’s that simple, right?
Turns out, it’s not that simple. Think about it – your mat is the stomping ground for your hard-working hands and feet day after day. It’s the place where your sweat drips during a long Bikram practice; the place that picks up dirt and who knows what else from your body (no matter how hygienic you are).
If you use the same mat every day, it’s easy to rationalize these facts. Sure, sharing dirt, microbes, and germs with other people is gross, but is sharing them with yourself as dangerous? It’s an answer no one wants to hear, but the truth is that it can be just as bad.
Yoga mats are the perfect environment for bacteria, microbes, and germs to build up. They sit on the mat and accumulate – they don’t just dry up or go away. If you roll up your mat after every practice, the confined space gives these little bugs even more opportunity to fester.
And that’s not even the worst of it, have you ever attended a class at the studio and forgot your own mat? Studio mats are often used over and over by a variety of people before they’re cleaned. Just because you’re not directly ingesting or breathing in these germs doesn’t mean that they can’t affect you. Germs from coughing, skin fungi, and even rashes can be transmitted via this seemingly harmless surface.
So now that we know the facts, what can we do about it? Luckily, there’s a simple fix. It’s easy to clean or wipe down your mat after each practice, and the materials you’ll need aren’t pricey.
The most obvious options are commercially manufactured sprays and wipes, which come in a variety of scents. There are washes for yogis who prioritize eco-friendliness, and others for those who value style and brand.
But if you’re looking to reduce your yoga budget (all those sports bras, mala beads, and DVDs can add up!), there’s another way.
You can create your own mat cleansing spray at home, and there’s lots of room for creativity.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- An empty container (spray bottles work the best)
- white vinegar
- essential oil or natural scent
Just combine roughly 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar, and a few drops of your favorite scent. Then, use a sponge or rag to wipe down both sides of your mat. Let it dry, and you’re done! It’s just another step on your journey of hygienic and holistic well-being.