We're knee-deep in cold and flu season and although practicing yoga is a great way to strengthen your muscles and your immune system, doing Child's Pose with your face pressed into a dirty, germy mat is a surefire way to sign yourself up for a case of the sicks. You can protect yourself by keeping your mat clean with these tips.
- Bring a towel to class to absorb your sweat, and also wear long pants. The more sweat you can absorb and not allow to pool on your mat, the cleaner it will be.
- Choose one side of your mat to practice on. That way, one side always stays clean and only the other side comes in contact with the germs on the floor.
- Before you practice, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly to avoid passing germs onto your mat. Then after class, roll up your yoga mat and place it in a mat bag or tote to protect it from outside germs.
Don't let your mat make you sick. Keep reading for more essential tips to keep your mat germ-free.
- When you get home, don't leave your mat rolled up in the bag — the moist, dark environment is perfect for bacterial growth. Give your mat the chance to air-dry completely before the next session by hanging it over a banister or the top of a door. If you use a towel on top of your mat, throw it in the washing machine so it's clean and ready for your next class.
- If your mat is dirty or you're worried about germs, wash it with a clean washcloth dipped in a solution of one cup warm water and two drops dish soap — too much soap will make your mat slippery. It's easiest to do this by laying your mat in your bathtub. Rub the surface clean and then wipe with another washcloth dipped in clean water. Dry it with a towel and hang the mat up to air-dry. Some companies sell special mat sprays and cleaners, but a simple dish soap solution works just as well.
- Don't lend your mat to anyone else. Think of your mat as an intimate piece of fitness gear, such as your bathing suit or sports bra.