Cleaning a mat regularly and ensuring it is properly cared for and maintained will enable you get the best of it during your yoga sessions.
A mat that's given plenty of care and attention will turn out to be an investment with a great return.
Proper cleaning and care will help to prevent a build up of dirt, sweat and particles of dust and debris which could ultimately impact on your physical health.
A well maintained mat can also prevent the risk of deterioration which could lead to an injury of accident while carrying out your yoga positions.
There are two key aspects to caring for your mat - storage and cleaning.
Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to roll up and store your yoga mat. When you are rolling it up after a session, you need to make sure that you roll the mat up with the exercise surface on the outside.
By doing this, you make things more beneficial for yourself the next time that you use the mat - this because when you unroll it, the mat will maintain some degree of curl.
By rolling your mat up this way - with the exercise surface on the outside - it will be easier to flatten it out the next time your use it, due to the fact that the curl will be down towards the floor. To lessen the amount of curling in your mat, roll it loosely when you store it away after use.
A yoga mat should be stored in a dark, cool and dry place. If there is any moisture in the storage area, your mat will almost certainly absorb it. If you allow this to happen a mat will start to become damp and wet and may be in this condition the next time you need to use it.
You should also try to give your mat a good airing after use to freshen in up and remove the potential for smell from stale body odour. Never use soap on your mat or wear lotion on your hands and feet while practicing.
Yoga mast should not be subjected to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. A moderate amount of sunshine can be good for drying a mat and removing unwanted odours. However, if the mat is in the sun for too long, it will damage the material. In the case of rubber mats, exposure to too much sunlight can result in them becoming rough and tougher.
Cleaning is the other important part of caring for a yoga mat. This prevents the growth of bacteria and residue and also helps to prevent stains on the mat.
Since most people practice yoga in a class with other people, it is important to keep your mat as clean as possible. You can carry out regular, light cleaning as often as necessary.
Most mats can be cleaned by wiping down with a clean cloth. You should spray the entire surface of the mat with water and then rub it all over with the cloth. Deep cleaning of a mat involves actually washing it and this should be carried out about once a month or when the mat has become very soiled.
Your mat can be washed with cold water and a mild detergent or baking soda. You can also clean it with a liquid soap but this should be used sparingly and rinsed out thoroughly as there's a risk of it absorbing into the mat and make it slippery.
Some mats are machine washable so you should read the cleaning instruction that came with the mat to see if this is an option. Certain types of mats are also suitable for tumble drying, but many yoga enthusiasts prefer to dry their mat outdoors naturally on the washing line to give it a fresh smell. Also, tumble dryers can sometimes for quite aggressive on mats and can weaken their fibres.
Many yogis and yoginis enthusiasts like to keep a few yoga mat wipes to hand - these are infused with essential oils and are ideal for keeping a mat fresh, germ-free and clean. These mats come in packs and leave no residue. The essential oils dry very quickly and evaporate completely.
Following these simple guidelines will result in you having a clean mat which will not pose any risk to your health - maintaining a mat is relatively easy and does not take much time. The little bit of time that you put into it can make your mat last much longer.