Hot Yoga Heats up Yogis… and Bacteria?

Don’t call us crazy! We actually prefer to practice yoga when the thermostat is cranked high. Sure, it’s a little (okay, extremely) sweaty, but the heat helps our muscles extend farther, loosen our joints and mute our racing thoughts. Better yet, everyone else is just as sweaty, so no need to feel self-conscious about sweat stains.

But don’t get us wrong… hot yoga definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. With temperatures exceeding 100° Fahrenheit and humidity nice and high, these studios are sweat sanctuaries. After finishing a particularly intense sesh (which was no doubt extremely liberating and relaxing) you’re left with a puddle of sweat on your mat roughly the size of a small kiddie pool. Some might see this as pretty disgusting, but for most hot yoga fanatics it’s more like a symbol of honor, a victory of sorts. We know yoga isn’t a competition, but it feels rewarding to see just how hard we worked, that we accomplished something. So yeah, it’s kinda nasty, but it’s wonderful all at the same time.

We adore hot yoga, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its downsides. The heat and humidity of these rooms are a hub for bacteria. According to Robert Lahita, the chairman of medicine and vice president of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, “yoga mats are a hotbed of contamination, literally and figuratively.”

“It’s a big issue — this is even bigger than cell phones,” Lahita says. Studio workers try their best to sanitize their floors, but half the time it seems like the sweat is just getting swished around with a mop mixing all those germs together.

You’d like to think your mat is immune to these bacteria, but it’s time to face the facts; all those germs are just clinging to the material, waiting for you to touch them. You try to argue that “it’s only the bottom of the mat touching all those other people’s germs!” but guess what? When you go to roll up that mat of yours, all the sweat and grossness of both sides get squished up right next to each other. That’s right, your yoga mat is just a little burrito of yuck and every day it’s getting progressively worse!

Even if hot yoga isn’t your jam, chances are that regular classes are using the same rooms. That means any other yogi gets to pick up just as many of those germs as the hot yoga fanatics.

“A yoga mat is a perfect incubator for many of our skin infections,” Lahita says. In fact, from 2004 to 2006 Greg E. Cohen, a podiatrist at Long Island College Hospital says he saw “a 50 percent spike in patients with athlete’s foot and plantar warts.” Cohen says the most likely culprit of this increase were unclean exercise mats. So even if you’re not keen on sweating gallons and simply want the soothing calmness of a relaxation yoga class you’re still being exposed to all the same microbes inhabiting the studio.

Sure, you can try to wipe down the mat, maybe get rid of a little nastiness, but really the majority of those germs are sticking around for the foreseeable future. You don’t want to ruin the material with harmful cleaning chemicals or other nonsense. You paid a lot of money for this mat and you’re not going to sentence it to life in the trash can. You’re just stuck with that germ-infected burrito mat.

That’s a great image, right? Not! We apologize for temporarily ruining burritos for you, but we promise it gets better. We left burrito mats in our past ever since we had this one little, seemingly obvious idea: a machine washable yoga mat. Mind blown, right?! Same here! But after we thought about it for a bit we realized that this idea could transform your yoga practice — no more disgusting germs, no more infections, and most importantly… no more burrito mat.

Say goodbye to the ick of all those studio floors and residual sweat stains and hello to a mat that will stay as fresh as your mind, body, and soul. Big Raven Yoga mats can be tossed straight into the washing machine, no ifs ands or buts about it. Not only are they insanely functional, each Big Raven Yoga mat is adorned with stunning artwork designed by our very own team of Ravens. We’re really proud of these mats and are so excited to finally have our store up and running for all of you out there.

So, yogis, let’s embrace those sweat sanctuaries, turn up the heat as high as we want and relax knowing that our minds, bodies, and mats are clean.

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