I love doing yoga on a mat. It feels special to have my own private "island." I also love the sticky surface which allows my hands and feet to stay firm. The squishy texture offers my bones some cushion from the hard floor. A yoga mat is also a barrier from the dirty ground, so you want to do what you can to keep it as clean as possible.
When it comes to yoga mats, there are some unwritten rules and tips we need to lay out on the table. Or should I say floor? Knowing them can save you from any embarrassment, and will also keep you healthy. Want to know what they are? Then
- Whether you borrow a studio mat or use your own, when you're done, hang it up on a hook or over a door to air dry. If it stays wet and rolled up, it's the perfect breeding ground for mold or bacteria. Not only is that disgusting, but it's also stinky, and nobody wants to smell that the next time you go to unroll it.
- Speaking of borrowing yoga mats, there's nothing wrong with doing that for your first couple of classes, or if you accidentally forget your mat. Otherwise, bring your own yoga mat. You don't want to smell or be in contact with anyone else's sweat, since that's a great way to get yourself sick.
- Your feet are not the cleanest part of your body. For most of us, they are shoved into shoes and socks all day long. They can end up getting sweaty and stinky, and when you get to your 5:30 yoga class, your tootsies are far from fresh. So remove your shoes before entering the studio, and take a minute to run to the bathroom and wash your feet. You'll feel better during your practice, and it'll help keep your mat cleaner. Plus you might get more adjustments from the teacher if you smell clean.
- Don't step on anyone else's mat, unless you get permission from the person first (like if you were sharing a mat in a Partner Yoga class). This goes along with the stinky feet rule. Even if you washed your feet for 20 minutes straight, nobody knows that, and it grosses people out to have stranger's feet prancing on their clean mat.
- If you use a rug, be sure to wash it once a week in the washing machine. Since it absorbs all your sweat, it gets as gross as your sweaty yoga clothes. You wouldn't wear the same clothes over and over again, right? Good, so be sure to wash that rug just as often.
- Don't use yoga mat spray to make your mat smell pretty. It may cover up the smell of your stinky mat, but it doesn't cover up the fact that your mat isn't clean. Not only can those sprays make your mat dangerously slippery, but the scents can also be distracting or annoying to fellow yogis in the class who are trying to breathe fresh air. Some may even be allergic to the scent.