Regularly practicing Yoga has become a part of your life and you are now more intimate with your yoga mat than your spouse. Taking care of your mat is essential ensuring its longevity and performance and there is nothing more off-putting during a session than stretching into childs pose, face down on your mat and it has a funky smell or foot prints that had built up. What’s worse is if your mat starts loosing its grip. These can all be avoided by some basic cleaning and maintenance.
When you first started out practicing yoga, if you were like me, you may have grabbed yourself a cheap mat from your local department store. These may be great for a back up but you will quickly find that you will be yearning a good quality yoga mat, as the cheap mats start to deteriorate and tear quite quickly, ending up as another piece of land fill. There are many environmentally friendly options for good quality mats available from natural rubber to cork. If you can find a good brand that is made near you, you can reduce the product miles as well.
A good mat is like a good sports bra, the better the quality the more support you have and the more you can push yourself without falling all over the place, if you know what I mean. So if you don’t have yourself a good mat yet I would strongly suggest making that investment. It will save you money and the environment in the long run.
How to Clean your Mat
Cleaning your mat doesn’t need to be a daunting job. Maintenance is done regularly it takes no time at all. Simply get a clean cloth and dampen with warm water. Wipe over your mat on both sides and let it dry after each use before you roll it up. If you feel your yoga mat needs a deeper clean then you can submerge it in warm water, in your bathtub with a small amount of mild detergent and gently wipe it with a cloth. Don’t use too much detergent as it may make your mat slippery if all the detergent isn’t rinsed off properly. That is not fun, believe me.
Lay it over a clothes drying rack in your bathtub or outside, out of direct sunlight, to dry fully.
It is that simple. Nothing special is required. But if you are like me and you want to make sure your mat is germ and fungus free then you may want to consider using specialized cleaner for your mat.
What can I use on my Yoga Mat??
There are some great cleaning products on the market designed specifically to clean your beloved yoga mat. It is well worth a couple of minutes to check the reviews on a product before you buy as you don’t wish to end up with one that leaves your mat sticky or slippery. There are also many environmentally friendly cleaners available, low scent, no scent and some that
If you like are like me and love to make your own Eco friendly cleaners, you can make your own cleaner spray very easily and you can customize it to suit your taste.
Simply pour all the ingredients into the bottle and shake.
Spray over your entire yoga mat and wipe with a clean cloth on both sides after each use. This will keep your yoga mat clean and smelling wonderful. Down Dog will be a much more pleasant experience. I love to use lemon essential oil for its clean and uplifting aroma or if you prefer something more relaxing you a use lavender or clary sage. If you would prefer something to protect from any nasties you can add tea tree essential oil instead.
Traveling to and from classes can take its toll on your mat just as much as your yoga sessions but even if your don’t travel with your yoga mat and you only practice at home, it is still a good idea to get yourself protective bag to store your mat while it is not being used. The bag will help to protect you mat from dirt, dust and moisture as well as scuff marks or worse. My cat once decided that my mat was a great scratching post while leaning up in the corner of the room. I almost cried. That was an expensive lesson and I had to use my cheap back up mat till my new one arrived. Needless to say, after buying a new mat I also got myself a heavy-duty bag that was cat resistant. I also started closing the door to my office where I keep my mat.
Including care into your session
Caring for your yoga mat ca be included as part of your yoga session. It will only add a couple of minutes and the rewards are worth the little effort it takes to ensure you start your morning or finish your day on a clean and fresh smelling yoga mat. It gives you a chance to inspect it for wear and tear.
I once did a session in the park, only to find where I set up was in a patch of bindis (prickles) and the underside of my mat was full of them. I spent a good time pulling them all out but still couldn’t remove them all so it is also worth checking the surfaces you lay your mat on or put and old towel underneath.
Caring for a quality mat is also easier than caring for a cheap one which is more likely to fall apart with all the extra attention. and the materials seem to stay cleaner and are more resistant to dirt and moisture.
On a final note: Mats and cats do not mix. Ensure kitty is not left alone with your beloved mat or you may find it to be an expensive lesson.