Practicing yoga is great for strengthening the body and balancing the mind, but learning what lurks in your sweat-drenched yoga mat can be far from relaxing. Before you get your Vinyasa on, be sure you’re doing your part to protect your health.
Robert Lahita, MD, a professor of medicine at Rutgers School of Medicine, reports that yoga mats are crawling with bacteria, fungi, viruses and more. “A yoga mat is a perfect incubator for many of our skin infections,” said Lahita. “The yoga mat is a very fertile source for infection, mainly because people sweat on them and they rarely are cleaned.”
While it’s convenient and easy to grab a communal yoga mat, you may be putting your health at risk. If someone has ringworm or a staph infection, works up a sweat perfecting their crane pose, and then kicks back into corpse pose on a mat, whoever lies on that mat next may contract ringworm, staph, or any of a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
Prefer hot or Bikram yoga? The problem could be even worse because organisms tend to thrive in warm environments and people are sweating more. “Many yoga mats are pocked with little holes and these organisms like to live in that, especially if you’re sweating and you’re providing a very nice environment of warm saline, which comes from your skin,” said Lahita.
Making a habit of using your own mat dramatically reduces your chances of picking up a skin infection. However, keep in mind that if you have had a skin infection, treated and
healed it, but have not properly cleaned your mat, you can reintroduce the infection to yourself.
The best way to reduce the chances of getting yourself or someone else sick is to properly clean your yoga mat regularly.
1. Spray mat liberally with a body-safe cleaning solution like Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar. (Did you know vinegar kills 99.9% of the most common form of Staph?)
2. Wipe with a clean cloth.
3. Allow to air dry COMPLETELY before rolling back up.
Bonus: Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegars are formulated with essential oils, making it a pleasant aromatic experience each time you spray. When you’re face down on your mat, you’ll only catch of whiff of garden grown herbs and farm fresh fruits, not offensive mold and stale sweat. Namaste!