Jun 26, 2012

Yoga Mat: Clean or Replace? by Elise Espat

Making the decision to replace an old mat and figuring out how to pick a new one can be a little overwhelming. Here is a simple guide to help you navigate your mat matters.

Clean or Replace?
Is your mat breaking up or shredding in little pieces?
Does your mat smell?
Does your mat have black spots where your hands and feet rest?
Do your wrists and hands ache during practice?
Has your mat lost the traction you prefer?
Is your mat made of PVC?

It is time to replace a mat if it is shredding at a disruptive rate, if the stink and dirty have become a permanent fixture that withstands even heavy duty washing (see below). Also, if you are having wrist/hand pain it may be a sign that you are not using an appropriate mat.

Jessica Stickler:
"The only one I've ever had to "replace" was because it was getting holes in it. I clean my mats depending on how much I've been using them, if they smell or if they lose their stickiness, its time to clean!"

Cleaning Tips & Keeping it Clean
Using a yoga towel or cotton mysore rug helps keep your mat clean since you aren't practicing directly on your mat. Clean your feet before you walk in the classroom for practice, especially during summer months with flip flops. Allow your mat to dry completely after each use and cleaning to prevent bacteria growth and icky smells.

Bryan Johnson:
"I wipe my mat down after each class and wash it if it gets stinky with a gentle soap in the bathtub and let drip dry."

Ralph de la Rosa:
"I take mine in the shower with me! Scrub it down with my loofah and everything. Then it can just hang dry inside the shower. So easy."

"Some mats are tough enough to go into the actual wash! I used to literally put my Jade mat in the washing machine on an extra small load with a drop of soap, and then run it through the dryer for 20 minutes."

What to do with the old one
If it is time to replace rather than clean, that old mat may still be of use...

"Please donate your used mats!! There are tons of yoga programs at schools, programs for at-risk youth, etc. that are constantly looking for any mats to use for their classes. We donate to YogaActivist.org. If anyone has old mats they'd like Go Yoga to donate for them, I'd be more than happy to take them!"

"I cut my old mat up and used it for furniture pads (under the corners of my bed, to keep it from slipping on the floor). Also, there are MANY school programs that can use the spare mats. lineageproject.org is one of them.

What to look for in a new mat:
  • Eco-friendly / sustainability
    The most important consideration is whether or not a mat is eco-friendly and/or sustainable. It is true, you can find a yoga mat at a local variety store for $20. It may be easy on your pocket, but that is where the fun stops.

    "Be super cautious about buying one at a Sporting Goods Store. Their mats tend to be of lower quality and made out of weird plastics."

    "It has to be eco-friendly."
  • Traction
    They call it a "sticky mat" for a reason. While a slightly slick surface can be a great teacher in pulling in and up, a super slick surface can be counter-productive.

    "I look for mats that my hands and feet stick to. I have three mats and the main feature that they all share is traction, my hands have to stick to the mat in Downward Dog!"

    "I tend to get pretty sweaty. My Jade Yoga mat has extra cushion without compromising its no-slip ability."

    "I have a Vinyasa practice and I use a Jade Harmony. The traction is great, but I think it is time to switch to the Manduka Eko when my current mat starts to fade. I want firmer contact with the earth."
  • Thickness
    There are super thin and light travel mats and the thick and firm Manduka Pros. How you choose your thickness depends on your practice and lifestyle. A thin mat will be lighter and easier to carry back and forth from yoga. Having very close contact with the ground has its benefits, but also can be uncomfortable in postures like dhanurasana. A thicker mat is going to be heavier and harder to travel with, but you can always sign up for mat storage. For me, I look for thick and firm (stable surface that also cushions my bones) or very thin with a cotton rug handy.

    I have mats that are thicker, and I have a mat that's so thin it feels like I'm directly on the floor. You might want a thicker mat if your knees are sensitive, you might prefer a thin mat if balancing postures are challenging for you. (Because you can feel the floor better with your toes!)
Staff picks: Our Favorite Yoga Mats
Some of these are affiliate links. While opinions are always my own, deciding to purchase through an affiliate link helps support this blog.  Thanks!
  • Manduka Pro Black Mat:
    Thick and firm with a lifetime guarantee. Can be slippery for some people. Add a cotton Mysore rug or Yoga towel.
  • Jade Yoga Harmony Mat:
    Thin and firm or thick and firm. Great traction. They plant a tree with each purchase! Can be too sticky for some people. Add a cotton Mysore rug or Yoga towel.
  • Manduka Eko:
    All firm with a variety of thickness. One side slick and one side comparable to the Jade yoga. Great colors.

-Elise Espat


Bryan Johnson is a yoga newbie and co-manager of Go Yoga.

Elise Espat is dedicated to the ongoing practice and study of the traditional Ashtanga yoga method. She is one of the few teachers worldwide to have received Level 2 Authorization enabling her to teach both the primary and intermediate series of Ashtanga yoga. She is honored to have practiced with the late Shri K. Pattabhi Jois and maintains an ongoing practice with R. Sharath Jois and R. Saraswathi Jois at the KPJ Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, India. Elise leads the Ashtanga Yoga Brooklyn Mysore program hosted by Go Yoga and teaches Led Ashtanga classes on the ongoing Go Yoga class schedule.

Jessica Stickler teaches musically infused and philosophically amused classes at Go Yoga that aim to inspire, uplift, incite, and ignite! After experiencing physical and metaphysical transformation in her own life through these practices, she decided to teach! Jessica graduated Jivamukti Teacher Training in 2008, and has since completed 800+ hours advanced certification. She would like to thank all of her holy teachers, especially Sharon Gannon, David Life, Matthew, and Nicole for inspiring, teaching, and seeing more in her than she sometimes saw in herself! Classes integrate anatomical and intellectual precision with choreographic sequencing and playful music.

Ralph De La Rosa is a lifelong spiritual seeker and, more recently, a spiritual finder. Yoga and meditation have offered him the hands-down, best solutions to the depression, addiction, anxiety and trauma that weighed him down for a very, very long time. Ralph is the manager of Go Yoga, teaches meditation with The Interdependence Project (www.theidproject.org), and is studying to become a psychotherapist at Fordham University.

How to clean your yoga mat by Elise Espat

Revisiting an essential topic.

  • Clean your feet before practice. 
    Much easier than cleaning a mat.

  • Use a rug over your mat. 
    Much easier than cleaning a mat, just pop the rug in a washing machine or hand wash.

  • Wipe your mat as dry as possible post-practice. 
    Makes drying time faster.  Much easier to prevent bacteria than to eliminate it.

  • Hang your mat to dry completely everyday post-practice.
    Much easier to prevent bacteria than to eliminate it.

Weekly/As needed
  • Wash your rug. 
    If you do not use one, wash your mat.

Once per month/As needed

  • Deep clean your mat.
    Check out the Eco Yogini for green tips on how to wash your mat and a recipe for an anti-bacterial spray that you can make at home. To expedite the drying process (from Wai Lana):
To dry your yoga mat, lay it on top of a dry towel and tightly roll mat and towel together like a cinnamon roll. Squeeze out excess water by pressing with your hands or feet. Unroll and hang to air dry.
The ingredients in these DIY sprays tend to be similar (vinegar, water, witch hazel, tea tree, etc.)
Note:  If you have a Manduka mat (from Manduka):
We recommend using Manduka Mat Renew or any non-solvent household cleaner and a damp cloth or sponge. Hang to dry in the sunshine. DO NOT clean your mat with the garden hose, put in the bathtub or shower, or put it in the washing machine- it may break the machine and ruin your mat!

Jun 18, 2012

{Moon Day} Tuesday, June 19 New Moon

Next Moon Day: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
No classes, take rest!
Full list of 2012 Moon Days

From Shri K. Pattabhi Jois via the Ashtanga Yoga Shala:
"That day is very difficult day. Two stars one place (conjunction) is going. New moon also, full moon also. That day very dangerous day. You (take) practice (on that day), anyone can have a small pain starting. That pain is not going very quickly. Long time he is taking. Some broken possible. That is why that day don’t do." continue reading

Jun 3, 2012

4-week Ashtanga Beginner Course June 4 - 28

The Albuquerque Ashtanga Yoga Shala is a unique space specializing in traditional Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga in the lineage of Shri K Pattabhi Jois. This method comes directly from Mysore, India and emphasizes personal development, dedication, and a strong student-teacher relationship. Mysore is ideal for beginning students.

Under the watchful eye of a highly trained instructor you will learn in a gentle, safe, and supportive environment. Students are taught gradually, ensuring correct understanding and time for integration of each asana, concept, and technique before the next is given. In this way, students progress on their own truly personal path of yoga.

All classes are taught by Krishna Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute Authorized teacher Elise Espat. Students will work individually with Elise, slowly developing a daily Mysore practice according to their abilities. Each session will build upon the last. To receive the most benefit from the course, it is recommended that students attend classes 4 days per week. If this is not possible, at least once or twice per week will suffice.

TIME: 8:30 - 9:30 am
DATES: Monday, June 4th - Thursday, June 28th
DAYS: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
LOCATION: Albuquerque Ashtanga Yoga Shala 206 Dartmouth DR NE @Monte Vista in Nob Hill 


Pre-registration is required: eliseashtangayoga@gmail.com

{Archive} Outtakes: The Yoga Portfolio

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: guru, Ashtanga yoga. Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, 91, has been described as “fierce and compassionate” and “strict and loving” by his students, but it’s this kind of dichotomy that makes the teacher of Ashtanga so revered. Jois, who has been teaching for 70 years, started with a studio, or shala, in Mysore (Mysooru), India, that held only 15 students, and is now used to teaching groups that can number in the hundreds. He leads his students through a series of asanas that flow one into the next, synchronizing with the breath, and getting gradually more difficult, with the goal of producing an intense internal heat that detoxifies the body. Photographed at Sanskrit College in Mysore, India. 
High quality image at Govinda Kai's flickr page here
Article at Vanity Fair here

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