I love doing yoga at home. I just pull up one of the countless online videos, roll out my mat, and start my flow. There’s something so liberating about pedaling through my downward dog or shakily rising to warrior one with no one watching.
But here’s something I do miss about being in a studio: the fresh-smelling sprays or wipes to clean up my sweat post-workout. Because, let’s face it, no one wants to do child’s pose on a mat that smells like feet.
Curious to see if I could mix my own cleaner, I found a homemade version from Atlanta-based yoga instructor Katie Bush.
1 part water
1 part vinegar
1/2 lemon, squeezed
a few drops of tea tree oil (optional)
I reached out to see if she had any other advice for home yogis. Here’s what she had to say:
KM: So, what exactly do you use to clean your yoga mat?
KB: I use equal parts water and vinegar and a squeeze of half a lemon with a little bit of tea tree oil to clean my mat. A lot of mats nowadays lose their "grippyness" when you apply oils to them, so I only use the tea tree (not much) when it gets really stinky because tea tree oil naturally kills bacteria. I carry it in a small 4-ounce spray bottle that I keep in my yoga bag.
KM: Walk me through how you clean it.
KB: I usually pump it where my hands and feet land in down dog since that's where the mat is most worn and gets dirtiest. Three to four sprays on either side should be good, and use paper towels or a rag to wipe it down. Sometimes I let it dry, but I'm usually rushing to the next thing, so I roll it up. I keep my mat in my car and the heat helps to dry it out. I never clean my mat before class, only after class so it isn't moist or slippery while I'm practicing.
KM: Do you clean your mat often?
KB: I actually don’t. I don't sweat a lot, and unless I've been practicing outside and it's gotten dirty, I just let it be. Once it gets to the point where it's noticeably stinky or visibly dirty is when I'll give it a wipe down. I love to do arm balances and inversions in my regular practice and I find that cleaning the mat often makes it slippery or it loses the grippyness.
KM: What’s your favorite brand of yoga mat?
KB: By far, my favorite mat is the Manduka Eko—I have a 4mm Eko. I've tried almost all other mats out there and this is the one I come back to every time.
KM: What tips do you have for someone who wants to exercise in their home?
KB: I'd recommend taking electronics out of the room, so you don't feel compelled to interrupt your practice. Put a clock in there and set yourself a goal of how much time you want to commit to. I'd also find a place a lot of room so you can stretch out and take up space.
KM: What's an ideal environment for home workouts?
KB: You want a place with a wooden floor because it's hard to balance on a mat on top of carpet. Ideally, it also has mirrors so you can check your posture as you're going through the poses.
KM: What should people keep in mind when practicing yoga at home?
KB: If someone is looking to start a home practice, they should do a progressive sequence: Begin with simple poses to warm yourself up, add in a little core work, do some sun salutations to warm the muscles even more, invent a sequence of poses that you do in order two to three times, followed by stretching, inversions, and then some poses on your back before you wind down for savasana. Savasana is the most important thing of any yoga practice—it's like hitting the "save" button on the computer: Everything you did during your practice is soaked up into your body during savasana. So don't skip it!
Do you make your own cleaners? Share your formulas and tips in the comments below!