One lovely morning a fairly new student of mine (one-two month or so of attending classes) was inquiring about yoga toes prices (yoga towel for the mat). I looked those up and mentioned that while they are not cheap they do last for a while. Had mine for several years and it's still in close to new state.
The student seemed surprised at how long I've had my mat and mat towel.
You see, his yogi toes and mat have developed a smell and he though he may have to buy a new one every couple of months to combat the problem. This is actually very common. The smell and those thoughts. The "lost and found" mats would also have a smell after a few days...
But this is a common misconception. As much as the manufacturers may want you to, you DO NOT have to buy new mat towel and mat every few months of hot and sweaty yoga!
You simply have to do ONE sime thing and it will make your mat and mat towel last for years and years. Want to know what that one thing is? No, washing is not it.
ROLL IT OUT!
Just roll out your mat with mat towel on top after your practice and let them dry.
Do this as soon as possible.
If you have a long ride home do not put your rolled up mat in the trunk of your car. Roll it out and place it over passenger seat or across the back seat.
Stuck in the office? Drape it over your office chair. Roll it out on the floor if you can.
It is best to roll out your mat towel and dry it separately from the mat but if they are together you can still save them from developing unpleasant odors.
The reason why your mat develops a bad odor is because there is a lot of moisture on the mat after yoga and you are trapping that moisture inside when you roll up your mat. Bacteria quickly grow in such environment and thus make your mat smell bad.
Once a year, or more often if you'd like, spray your mat with a cleaner and wipe it down with a paper towel or cloth.
You can also use one of those pre-moistened wipes.
Leave it rolled out to dry.
That's all the care your mat will need. Anything extra is up to you.
Your mat and mat towel should last you a long time. I've had the same mat for over 6 years now. It doesn't smell and works great. No, it is not some fancy yoga mat, it's a plain mat I got at T.J. Maxx for about $20 and haven't had the need to buy another one.
Buy less and take care of what you have.
Hope this helps you!
And now...do you really need to spend a ton of money on your workout and yoga clothes? Next post will address this topic.