Monday, May 2, 2011

How To Wash Your Yoga Mat

While this post was inspired by one of my classmates who uses a once light blue mat, which is now streaked with brown dirt streaks, I'm sure there are more of you dirty-mat folks out there. This post is a tutorial in how, and why, to wash your yoga mat.

First of all - the Whys.
1. Your feet. They are dirty. Even if you showered. Did you go barefoot into the bathroom? Did any of your class mates? Did you walk anywhere a shod foot has fallen? Did any of your fellow barefoot yogis? Those little dirty birdy feet are the thing that most touch your mat.

2. Your mula banda area. If it's anything like mine by the time you are in paschimottanasana you've got a sweaty undercarriage. And now it's all over your mat.

3. Your tears. I know I'm not the only one who has ever cried on my mat. Although tears are clean. But still.

4. Your face. When your face hits the mat in child's pose, or maybe even upavishta konasana if you are lucky, how many days worth of feet and butt is it touching? When you kiss the ground, is it clean ground? (I know I'm not the only one who's kissed my yoga mat when I get my face all the way to the ground...)

5. Do you roll your mat? You've just rolled up hair (gag) and dust and ick onto the clean side of your mat. After class, fold it in half so dirty side touches dirty side and then fold gently a time or 2 more. Also, wiping it down with a damp cloth is nice too.

6. Saucha. Purity of the body. One of the niyamas of yoga. I think it also covers purity of the yoga mat. It is also why one should shower before yoga practice.

Your mat is your scared space. It is not like hiking shoes where the dirtier is the better and gives you street cred. Your yoga mat should be pristine, not covered with street crud. And while you may be proud of the sweat and tears (and blood?) that have fallen there, you do not need to let them stay on your mat in order for them to be imprinted on your soul. Everything is impermanent, but some of it needs our help to wash it off.

Now the How. I wash my mat every Sunday. It's a little ritual and comes after a tough Saturday class, and a frequently tough and sweaty (and at a gross studio) Sunday class.

Plop your mat into the bathtub.

Turn the water on. Hot or warm please.

Use a nice natural soap, this one smells like mint. And is the same kind my yoga studio uses. It smells so good! You can also just use plain water, or some baking soda, too.

You are using all your senses here. The smell of the soap. The sound of the water. The feel of the mat under your hands, the feel of your legs kneeling on the floor.

Spritz a few spritzes of soap into the tub.

After you've put the soap on it, get in there with your hands and scrub it, both sides under the running water.

Continue to scrub the mat with your hands, keeping the water running and rinsing it well.

You should be tired now from all the leaning and the scrubbing. Stay with your task. You are bathing the baby Buddha.

Now hang your mat on a drying rack in the tub, to catch the drips. It will be dry by morning.

Alternate method: shower with your mat after your Sunday yoga practice.

Do you wash your mat regularly? Will you start now?

No comments: