yoga mat

Meet Your New Yoga Partner: Bacteria

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You hear it all the time in yoga class, stay focused. Stay focused on your breathing. On holding your position. On the moment. On whether your Warrior pose is keeping up with your neighbor’s. But one thing you likely aren’t focusing on when you’re sweating it out? The bacteria cozying up and calling your yoga mat home.

One recent trial study by Microban researchers found that tens of thousands of bacteria may be living on your yoga mat.

yoga mat

During the trial study, researchers swabbed yoga mats immediately following a one-hour yoga session. What they found might make you want to shorten your next savasana. The results showed that on average, the yoga mats contained 39,872 colony-forming units of bacteria per square inch. For a standard 24-inch by 68-inch yoga mat, that equates to more than 65 million units of bacteria in total.

To put just how much bacteria that is in perspective, a separate trial study done by Microban researchers found that a public restroom toilet has an average of just 108 colony-forming units of bacteria per square inch. That means your yoga mat could have over 300 times more bacteria than the toilet you find in your favorite fast-food restaurant or gas station stop.

“Yoga mats that are used often can pick up significant bacteria because yoga results in constant skin contact between the body and the mat. This can lead to the transfer of bacteria, body oils, sweat and dead skin cells. Plus, the warm environment, made even more humid due to sweat, can encourage microbial growth on the mats.,” said Dr. Ivan Ong, Microban’s VP of research and development.

So, what exactly is sharing space while you savasana? According to Dr. Ong, more than you hope. “Skin flora bacteria such as Staphyloccous are commonly found on yoga mats, and other opportunistic entero (AKA: gut) bacteria such as E. coli can also exist on mats.”

Starting to sweat just thinking about it? Take a deep breath and say OM because there are a few simple ways to keep things clean. First, always unroll your yoga mat when you are home after a class so that it can dry out. Additionally, use a liquid sanitizer to give it a good clean. You’ll want to be sure to follow the instructions on the label of the product as some might require you to leave the sanitizer wet on the surface for a number of minutes, instead of spray and wiping up immediately which can simply push bacteria around the mat. After cleaning, keep the mat unrolled to dry completely.

Of course, using built-in technologies like Microban is the best solution, as it works around-the-clock to keep microbes from growing so you can go back to focusing on breathing, not bacteria.

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Methodology

Microban researchers swabbed six untreated yoga mats in two separate areas, the top center and bottom center of the mat, immediately following a one-hour yoga session. All testing was done in-house by Microban researchers.

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