Yoga is great for your health. Don’t let the fact that it’s low-intensity fool you—it offers plenty of benefits. For instance, it can improve your flexibility, muscle strength, and posture. On top of that, it increases circulation, which is beneficial for your heart. Given all that, it’s easy to see why so many people do it!
How many different types of yoga are there? A lot. Some are focused on breathing and basic poses while others are more of a physical workout. At the end of the day, you want to pick the style that’s right for you.
The Right Gear for Practicing Yoga
As with most physical activities, however, yoga requires a certain set of gear. First and foremost, you want to make sure that you have the proper clothing. In other words, get something that’s designed for yoga—activewear, for instance, would be perfect! At the end of the day, you want something that’s soft, flexible, and comfortable. How else would you do all the poses?
What else do you need? A yoga mat. Believe it or not but they’re actually very important. For one thing, they provide cushioning (who wants to do yoga on a hard floor?). Not only that, but help to prevent the possibility of slipping. Trust me, it can happen, especially if you’ve sweated a lot. Last but not least, it marks your space—no one will be moving in that area except you. In other words, you won’t have to worry about accidental touching!
While some gyms let you use their mats, it’s best to buy your own. If anything, it will be more hygienic—you won’t have to worry about stretching on someone’s sweat (the ones at the gym don’t get cleaned as often as you think)! What’s more, is that they are relatively affordable. You can easily get a one for less than $20.
How to Choose a Yoga Mat
There are several things that you want to consider when you’re picking out a yoga mat. After all, they’re not all the same! Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re choosing one at the store:
Grip: Grip is super important when it comes to doing yoga—it’s the thing that will prevent you from slipping when you’re doing various poses. Not only that, but it provides balance, stability, and leverage. Remember, sweat aka moisture can affect a mat’s stickiness.
Material: Most yoga mats are made from materials such as PVC, TPE and polyurethane as they are cheap. While that might be, however, they’re not the best for the environment. Consider choosing a brand that uses natural materials like rubber or cork instead.
Cushioning: Pay attention to how thick the mat is—that will determine the amount of cushioning that it provides. For instance, a thin yoga mat can be tough on your joints. At the same time, however, too thick of a mat can affect its portability. Ultimately, you want to pick one based on where you will be practising (i.e. a thicker mat might work better if you’ll be doing yoga outdoors).
Portability: Do you practice at a yoga studio? If so, you’ll want to get something that’s portable. After all, you’ll need to travel with it! Choose something that’s easy to roll and store. For instance, some mats come with a strap that allows you to carry it over your shoulder.
Keeping Yoga Mats Clean & Odor-Free
Does it surprise you that yoga mats need to be cleaned regularly? It makes sense when you think about it—after all, you’ll be probably be sweating on it! In other words, your mat will come into contact with your sweat. Remember what we said earlier? Moisture can increase your risk of slips. Not to mention that it can also be a hygiene issue. Odors, anyone?
Assuming that you use your mat outdoors, it can also accumulate dirt and mud. As you can imagine, that can cause problems as well. For one thing, the dirt can easily transfer onto your clothes when you’re doing the various poses!
Considering all that, it only makes sense for you to clean it on a regular basis. As far as how goes, it depends on the material of your mat. Some can be put in the washing machine whereas others need to be hand washed. There are also those that cannot be washed. In cases like that, you’ll want to wipe it down with a cloth.
How to Wash a Yoga Mat – Best Cleaning Instructions
Want to know how you can clean your mat so that it’s in tip-top shape? If so, you’re at the right place—we’ll be going over various cleaning methods below.
Putting Your Yoga Mat in the Washing Machine
As mentioned earlier, some yoga mats are machine washable. When in doubt, check the care tag label—there should be one on the side of the product.
Start by placing the yoga mat into the washer. Try to arrange it as evenly as possible (avoid uneven folds or bumps)—that will prevent it from being tossed around during the cycle. Once you’ve done that, put in some mild detergent. Next, select your settings—you want to use a gentle wash cycle (anything else will be too harsh). Ideally, you want to use cold water as it’s better for the material, however, warm water will do a better job of sanitizing the mat.
Note: Always be careful when you’re putting a yoga mat in the washer. Even if it’s machine washable, the agitator can nick or tear the material during the cycle—this is especially true if you have a top-loading machine. When in doubt, consult with the yoga mat’s manufacturer.
Press the start button and let the washer do its thing. When it’s finished, take the mat out. Lay it out flat to dry in a well-ventilated area. Do not put it in the dryer or under direct sunlight as the heat can cause the material to warm. Wait until it’s fully dry before using it again.
Washing Your Yoga Mat by Hand
Given the size of a mat, you won’t be able to wash it in the sink. What you want to do instead, is to fill a bathtub with warm water. Add a bit of mild detergent (dish soap works as well) and mix with your hand to create a sudsy solution. Once that’s done, place your yoga mat in. Make sure that it’s fully submerged—press down with your hand if necessary. After all, the detergent won’t be able to work its magic if it isn’t on the fabric!
Pro-tip: A small amount of soap will suffice. Avoid adding too much as that can make it difficult to rinse off later. What’s more, is that it can make your mat slippery, which can be dangerous when you’re trying to balance and do poses.
Allow the yoga mat to soak for 15 to 20 minutes. From there, you want to wash both sides with a soft cloth. Simply wipe down each side—pay extra attention to the areas where your hands and feet touch the most. How can you tell? The color will likely be a bit different. Remember to be gentle; the last thing that you want is to pull chunks off of it!
The next step, once you’ve finished wiping, is to rinse off the detergent. To do this, you’ll want to drain the tub. Place the mat under the faucet to remove the soap residue—continue rinsing until the water is clear. Once again, you want to make sure that all of the detergent is rinsed off as it can be slippery otherwise! If the water does not turn clear, you might have to soak and wash it again with water.
Remove the mat from the bathtub once you’re finished rinsing. To remove the excess water, place a dry towel on it and roll it up—that will help to squeeze out the leftover moisture (you can even step on it!). Never twist or wring out the mat with your hands as that can cause it to tear or warp.
Assuming that you’ve removed the remaining moisture, you’ll want to hang it up so that it can air dry. While you can use pant hangers, it’s best to drape it over a drying rack as the former can leave marks on the material. As mentioned earlier, you never want to put your yoga mat in the tumble dryer. Not only would that damage it, but it can pose a fire hazard.
Maintaining Your Yoga Mat Regularly
Cleaning your mat is important but so is regular maintenance. In other words, you want to wipe it down every now and then between washes—this will prevent the dirt, sweat, and oils from degrading the mat material. How often should you do it? It depends on how often you use the mat. For instance, you’ll want to clean it more often if you practice daily on a regular basis (as opposed to just one day per week).
Preventing Your Yoga Mat From Getting Dirty – Deodorizing Tips
Yoga mats are washable but wouldn’t it be better if you could prevent them from getting dirty in the first place? Well, as it turns out, there are a few things that you can do!
Always Wash Your Hands and Feet Before Practice
It’s a good idea to wash your hands and feet with soap before yoga practice. After all, they will be touching the mat! By keeping your skin clean, you’ll be able to minimize the amount of germs that will be on the mat. Not only that, but you’ll be able to get rid of any cream or lotion that might otherwise cause slips! Don’t have access to a sink? Consider wiping your hands and feet down with baby wipes before starting your session.
Wipe Your Mat After Every Use
Consider wiping your mat with a baby wipe after your yoga session. If anything, that’s one of the easiest ways that you can keep it free of dirt, sweat, and oils. While you can use baby wipes, some brands do sell specifically formulated wipes that are meant for yoga mats.
Place a Towel on the Mat During Your Session
Do you tend to sweat a lot during your yoga session? If so, you might want to place a clean towel on top of your mat—that way, you won’t have to worry about the sweat going onto the mat (it will be absorbed by the towel)!
Air Out Your Yoga Mat
Do you have a tendency of rolling up your yoga mat once you get home? As it turns out, that can contribute to odors! What you want to do instead, is to air it out—that will allow any remaining moisture to evaporate. For instance, you can place it over a drying rack in the laundry room.