There are those who have had their yoga mat for years and years, and despite the foot indents and going bald (yes yoga mats can go bald!), they hands down refuse to get a new one. It's like wearing flip flops. Have you ever accidentally put someone else's flip flops on at the end of class and immediately released they aren't yours? The sole of your foot moulds perfectly to the base, making the thought of getting a new pair hard to contemplate.
The same goes for a yoga mat. I've had my Jade for over a decade. It's still super grippy and I love it like a dear friend; my hands and feet have worn imprints in too many Downward Facing Dogs, however. Too many more and I'm nearing the possibility of wearing straight through. It's touch and go on every Chaturanga. Some people say it's worth replacing your yoga mat every 12 months, but this all depends on how often you practise and the type of yoga you practise. I broke this rule long ago!
Yoga mats put up with a lot. Between the stretching and sweating, it will eventually show signs of wear and tear that can impact your practise. If after moving your mat you find small pieces of it on the floor, it's likely time to invest in a new one. If the edges of your mat are not the same thickness all the way around, it may not be supporting your joints adequately. Do your feet slip constantly in Triangle Pose? Traction is especially important when you're trying to nail those uber-challenging poses. Finally, if your mat stinks, like worse than you do that cleaning it isn't getting rid of, it's time to do your yoga practice a favour and invest in a new mat. You'll keep your old one close by as a safety blanket, but yes, it's time for a new mat.
It’s important to return the support your trusty yoga mat gives you, by taking care of it. Cleaning your new yoga mat is a great way to break it in. Use an all-natural, water-based cleanser. There are plenty of options available online, at health and wellness shops, and at yoga studios. You can also concoct your own with a simple recipe of 50% water and 50% vinegar. This is a great option if you have a mat that’s made from natural tree rubber. I love adding essential oils such as tea tree oil (which has natural antibacterial properties), or lavender. It makes Child's Pose so much more enjoyable. It’s best to use a small amount of water and minimal soap because submerging your yoga mat could cause it to become waterlogged. Both your mat and Mother Earth will thank you!
If your yoga mat is still slippery, give it an exfoliating treatment! Try sprinkling your mat with a mixture of sea salt and warm water. Then, either wipe it down with a stiff-bristled brush or a cotton washcloth. This can help break down the initial layer, which will help you slip less and find stability in poses. (Just remember to check your mat’s manufacturer’s instructions first to make sure it’s safe for its material.)
You should clean your yoga mat about once a week. However if you practice daily, outside like we do in our Activ Life Sunset House classes, or tend to sweat a lot (after all we do practise yoga in the Cayman Islands), consider giving your mat a quick wipe down after each session. This is great for hygiene and ensures a long life for your mat. Make sure it's nice and dry before rolling it up.