Besides looking pretty and (sometimes!) alarmingly expensive, yoga mats not only support us during our practice, they also serve as a foundation for our overall wellness. Yoga mats are an investment towards our practice. That is why proper storage is key towards ensuring the long life and effectiveness of your yoga mat.
In this article, I will share some tips on how to store yoga mats to keep them in pristine condition, so that you will get the most out of your mat!
First things first!
It is important to keep your yoga mat clean and dry before storing it. We practice yoga to detoxify our bodies, it makes sense that we should detoxify our mats too! Dirt and sweat can cause a build up of bacteria and odours, which will not only start to stink, but over time can damage the material of the mat. To clean your mat, use a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner, such as a mix of equal parts water and vinegar or a mat-specific cleaning spray. You can also mix vinegar and witch hazel in a 1 to 4 ratio in a spray bottle with optional 2 to 4 drops of essential oil if you like, and spray the concoction over your mat!
Make sure to let your mat dry completely before storing it, as moisture, just like sweat, can also cause damage!
Once your mat is clean and dry, it is time to think about storage. Proper storage can help prevent damage, warping and mildew growth on your mat.
Here are some tips on how to store your yoga mat:
- Roll it, don’t fold it! Unless your mat is designed specifically to be folded, roll your yoga mat tightly and secure it with a strap or elastic band. Rolling your mat ensures that it stays flat, and does not become misshapen.
- Store it vertically to save space and prevent it from being crushed by other objects. Avoid leaning it against a wall or any other surface, as it could also cause your mat to become misshapen, especially the weight of the mat causes it to lean more into the surface it is leaning on, and inadvertently folds or curls up a corner or section of your mat!
If you have to store it horizontally, use a wall-mounted rack, a corner shelf, or a designated yoga mat storage unit. If you have a lot of yoga mats to store, consider investing in a mat storage cart or rack. These come in various sizes and can hold anywhere from a few to dozens of mats. This is a great option for studios/gyms that have a large collection of mats. For a more cost-friendly option, you can use an over-the-door mat rack, or search for DIY yoga mat storage ideas which peruse PVC pipes and fittings to create your own unique yoga mat rack. Just make sure that if it is wall-mounted, the wall and its surroundings will not be a source of heat or be subject to direct sunlight. If you are a crazy cat lady like me, you would definitely want to consider storing your mat far away from your beast’s sharp death mittens! Same goes for other pet owners – for some reason, our beloved pets seem to enjoy yoga mats just as much as we do, albeit in a very different way!
- Keep your mat away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures, as both can cause the material to disintegrate and become brittle. If you practice at home, consider storing your mat in a cool, dry closet or under the bed. If you prefer to keep your mat out in the open, find a spot that is shaded and well-ventilated. Avoid storing your mat near radiators, windows or in your car during hot weather. Heat and sunlight will also cause your beautiful mat’s colour(s) to fade, so if you travel often with your mat, remember to minimize, if not avoid altogether, the amount of time it stays in your vehicle!
- Use a yoga mat bag. A good yoga mat bag not only protects your mat from the elements (and pets, to a certain extent!), but is also a convenient way to transport and store your mat. Look for a bag that is made of breathable fabric, has a shoulder strap for easy carrying, and a separate compartment for storing accessories.
- Take it as part of your meditation and self-care practice! As you may already know, yoga is not only what happens on the mat, but also what happens off the mat. Take the time to care for not only your mat but also your space – you can not only cleanse them like how we discussed earlier, but also with the use of smudge sticks, incense, or whatever feels right for you!
Be mindful of not only how you store your mat, but *how* you store your mat. Make sense? It’s not only about doing something for the sake of doing it, but also our intention, state of being and presence when doing it.
If you are interested in developing a more well-rounded yoga practice which goes beyond asana, check out our 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Course happening in beautiful Bali this coming May!
So there you have it! Love and take care of your mat, and it will stick around for a long time to help you continue and further on your practice!