Yoga mats are miraculous objects that can transform any space into a sanctuary of peace and self-exploration. They are like accepting best friends, holding space for our achievements, our asanas-in-progress, our sweat and tears. But, these trusty companions need to be taken care of. Most mats are made up of materials that readily absorb dust, grime and sweat. If you’re new to cleaning your yoga mat, then you can be certain it is far dirtier than you think. During yoga, your body releases a lot of toxins physically and energetically. The mat also interacts with the floor and all the toxins present in the environment. It is necessary to clean your mat regularly to clear out all these toxins and allow yourself to enter a fresh, clean space for your practice. Having a cleaning ritual for your mat ensures that you keep this sacred practice space intact. It helps you develop respect for your practice and cultivates your ability for saucha (cleanliness) one of the five yamas in the first limb of Ashtanga Yoga.
There are two parts to cleaning a yoga mat. One is a daily disinfection and the other is an occasional deep-clean.
Disinfecting your yoga mat
Yoga mats are home to millions of bacteria, some of which can cause fungal infections if allowed to fester. It is thus important to regularly disinfect your mat. This can be done using a disinfection solution in a spray bottle.
Why you should make your own disinfection solution
Store-bought yoga mat cleaners generally contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful when used for prolonged periods of time. Your yoga mat is a personal, valuable, and sacred space. You should be aware of everything you introduce into this space including what you use to clean it. Chemicals that can hamper your vitality do not mix well with a space that is designed to heal your body and boost your immune system. It is advisable to make your own cleaning solution which is safe, inexpensive, and personal. You can experiment to find what works best for you and use aromas that help you enter into a state of greater peace and awareness. Below is a recipe for our favorite yoga mat cleaner. We walk you through modifications you can make to ensure your cleaner meets all your needs.
Recipe for a yoga mat spray
What you’ll need:
- Spray bottle (glass or stainless steel bottles work best)
- Distilled Water (2/3rds of the spray bottle)
- 2 drops of tea tree essential oil
- 2 drops of any aromatic essential oil of your choice (we recommend lavender, lemon-grass, eucalyptus or peppermint)
- White vinegar (1/3rd of the spray bottle)
Mix all the ingredients together in your spray bottle. Spray both sides of the mat, wipe with a microfiber cloth and leave it out to dry. Note that you can use any essential oil instead of tea tree that contains disinfection properties.
Deep-cleaning your yoga mat
While regular disinfection and wiping are enough to keep your mat relatively clean, every few weeks it is advisable to give it a good scrub. This can be done using soap, water, and a sponge or microfiber cloth. Take 2-3 drops of dishwashing liquid (preferably chemical-free) in a spray bottle with some warm water. Spray your entire mat and scrub it with a sponge or cloth. Make sure you don’t rub it too hard or it will damage the mat. Add only a few drops of soap or it will become difficult to remove and your mat will remain slippery for a few days. Rinse it thoroughly under water and hang it out to dry immediately.
You will be glad for the time you spend taking care of your mat and ensuring you give your practice the respect and attention it deserves. Your practice will begin to reflect this heightened sensitivity to your space. Your mat will be easier to grip and the aromas will help you breathe deeper and improve your focus and clarity. Try out our recipe and deepen your connection to your practice.