Yoga is a phenomenal way to keep yourself healthy and rejuvenated. Unfortunately, it has opposite effects on your yoga mat. Disintegrating, dirty yoga mats are right up there alongside putrid protein shakers and smelly gym bags in the competition for the most annoying fitness gear.
Although there are a ton of factors that go into the lifespan of a yoga mat, they generally need replacing every six to 12 months. No one is immortal, especially yoga mats in constant use. You’ll start to notice changes in your yoga mat once the cushion starts to wear out, it starts to develop holes, and it just plain stinks.
Luckily, using a hot yoga towel (which lasts years) can help to extend your yoga mat’s life as well as making hot yoga a much more enjoyable experience.
How to Know Your Yoga Mat is Getting Worn Out
I remember my first yoga mat. It was a thin, rubbery, light green mat I bought from a grocery store for $4.99. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for it to start falling apart. Although it had served its purpose, it only took two weeks of yoga classes to start doing some damage.
This completely went against my frame of mind when I go to do yoga. Once I’m in that yoga room, it’s all about relaxation, love, peace, and all the wonderful things that come along with a good yoga class. Looking down to see my only yoga mat start ripping apart, however, was not something I wanted on the menu. My thoughts of “I really like how this is making my hamstrings feel. Today is a good day” quickly turned into “I can’t believe this thing is already ripping apart. What a waste of money. This sucks!”
Then, I started doing hot yoga. The first day was very tough on the mat, but worst of all I was slipping all over the place. There is nothing graceful about a grown man sweating bullets and slipping around on a yoga mat. The next day, the yoga instructor offered me a hot yoga towel, and things were never the same.
Can You Just Wash Your Yoga Mat?
Technically, yes, you can. Most yoga mats are washable to an extent. Chances are you have one of two types of yoga mats; those made from PVC and those made with a durable fabric. Both are washable, but as you’ve probably seen with some of your old shirts that turned from a fine piece of clothing into a ropey rag, there are only so many times you can wash your yoga mat.
You are supposed to regularly clean your mat to avoid it gathering a not-so-nice smell, especially from all your hot yoga classes.However, if cleaning it every time you do yoga (which should be every day to a couple times a week) reduces its lifespan you might be inclined to skip a few days. Even though all it takes is a simple light hand and your cleaning method of choice (disinfectant spray, etc), these problems can be avoided.
Introducing: the Hot Yoga Towel
If you’re a beginner, you’ve likely noticed that some of the people in your classes carry around a soft yoga towel that goes over their yoga mat. Most hot yoga classes offer these to rent because they make hot yoga much easier.
Most standard yoga mats are designed for regular yoga use and the texture serves its purpose very well. However, once you start sweating bullets and start creating a puddle under your feet, your yoga mat (especially the PVC textured ones) starts to become more of a liability than an asset. Yoga is all about balance, and sometimes all it takes is one precarious misstep and slip to extend your body way too far past its limits and pull a muscle or worse. Thankfully, these hot yoga towels grip to your yoga mat and ensure the same stability you would have without the puddle of sweat.
That’s not even the best part. These hot yoga towels act as a barrier and cushion from all the motion and pressure you’re creating above. This ultimately makes your yoga mat last longer and live a happier life.
Do You Really Need a Hot Yoga Towel?
Well, that kind of depends on the type of yoga you are doing. If you are doing traditional non-sweaty yoga and have a lifetime stockpile of yoga mats, a hot yoga towel isn’t a necessity. All it does it add a little extra support and cushion which can be helpful if you are doing yoga at home on tile or a harder surface.
However, if you are doing hot yoga, it is pretty important you have a hot yoga towel at your disposal. It will not only help your yoga mat stay alive longer, but it will keep you safe and doing yoga much longer.
You might be thinking, “what about a regular towel? It’s pretty much the same thing, right?” Well, it might save you a couple bucks to use one of your spare towels for yoga, but it doesn’t work very effectively. What makes hot yoga towels useful is that they stick to your mat and allow you to do yoga on a smooth, leveled surface. I’ve personally tried to get around buying a hot yoga towel by using a regular beach towel, and it kept bunching up and I spent most of my session re-adjusting it. Your regular towel also won’t last nearly as long as a yoga towel.
You and your yoga mat have a special bond. You get to share the wonderful experience of yoga together. It is your constant partner and your support during all of your classes. For all the times it’s giving you the support you need, don’t you think giving it a hot yoga towel might be a nice gesture? Even if you don’t have some sort of mental attachment to your mat, making it last longer and saving money is something that everybody can agree on.