Favorite Products

Product Review: Rooted Earth Farm Liquid Sunshine Yoga Mat Spray

At the Common Ground Fair last weekend I discovered Rooted Earth Farm, a two person sustainable farm in Casco, Maine. Amongst a variety of lovely, natural body care products I found yoga mat spray. If you have read my previous posts or taken a class with me you know seriously I take good mat hygiene and love a good natural product, so you can guess how excited I was to try it!

The spray comes in three scents: Awake, Liquid Sunshine and Zen, and multiple sizes. I chose a 2 oz bottle of Liquid Sunshine, the lemon and lavender blend, and it did not disappoint.  It is bottled in a beautiful cobalt blue glass bottle with a spray top. At first I was a little concerned about the bottle breaking, but it is quite durable and I have been toting it around to all of my classes with no breakage or leaking. I have eczema that is triggered by chemicals, so I absolutely love that the spray has 4 simple ingredients: water, witch hazel, lavender essential oil and lemon essential oil, so it doesn’t irritate my skin. I’ve used it on a variety of mats from PVC studio mats to my Manduka Pro without any fading, drying or residue. But don’t let the gentleness of this product fool you, with the power of witch hazel and real lemon and lavender it packs a real cleaning punch (just look at the paper towel when you’re done for proof). Another one of this products great features is its ease of use. There is no mixing, wetting a paper towel and spraying a certain number of sprays of product or waiting, simply spray and wipe. However, I’ve saved my very favorite thing about this product for last: the smell! The combination of lemon and lavender is pure joy. Whether you prefer to clean your mat before or after your practice, the delightful scent lingers helping you to find your calm and focus.

I full-heartedly recommend this product to any yogi. This company really stands behind this product, too. When I had a problem with the spray top on my bottle (it turns out I had an old model top) I contacted the owner and within minutes I had response back and a new spray top in the mail the next day- now that is customer service.

If you are looking for a ready-to-use, locally made, natural product to clean your mat that you can feel good about, give this spray a try.

Yoga Mat

How dirty is your mat?

You shower after class. You wash your yoga clothes. But if you’re not cleaning your yoga mat you could be exposing yourself to dangerous germs.

Bacteria from your skin and floor can colonize on your mat causing infection. Not worried yet? Your yoga mat could be harboring more bacteria than your cell phone, which you’re directly exposing vulnerable areas of your skin including your face. Using a dirty mat can expose you to a myriad of diseases including the common cold and flu, rash, athlete’s foot, coryne bacteria that causes acne, planter’s warts (caused by the herpes virus) staff infections and even MRSA.

So what’s a yogi to do? The best protection is to purchase your own mat and bring it to class with you. Sharing mats greatly increases your risk of getting an infection. However, you can still  get sick from your own germs and germs your pick up at the studio, so even if you have your own mat always clean your mat after class (see some of my mat cleaning tips here) and be sure it is completely dry before putting it away. I also recommend folding your mat in half before rolling it to keep the top as clean as possible. If you must borrow a mat, don’t rely on the student before you or the studio to have cleaned it for you. Take responsibility for your own health by cleaning the mat thoroughly before using it, preferably with an alcohol based cleaner or Lysol spray. Before you leave be courteous to the next student and give the mat a good wipe down after class. If you’re sick, consider skipping class and keep rashes, warts, etc. covered. Using products such as a personal mat towel, yoga socks, yoga mitts and keeping as much of your skin covered as possible can also reduce your exposer to unwanted infections. Finally, don’t forget the importance of good hand washing before and after class.

Keeping your mat clean is practicing saucha, or cleanliness, a key self-discipline in the yoga tradition and is just good hygiene. Don’t allow an infection from a dirty mat cause you to be uncomfortable or keep you from your practice.

Yoga Mat

Cleaning Your Mat

So you’ve finally purchased the perfect yoga mat- that representation of YOUR personal yoga space. Depending on where and how you practice your mat can get pretty groody, and you will want to keep it clean to maintain its functionality and make it last as long as possible (as well keep it safe for you). There are as many ways to do this as there are yoga mats, and the method you chose will depend on the material your mat is made from as well as how often you clean your mat and your personal preferences (is it important that it is economical, something you already have at home, natural, etc). Below are some tips and different ways of taking care of your mat. Always be sure to check if your mat comes with any specific directions from the manufacturer.

1. WASHING MACHINE

One of the easiest ways to clean your yoga mat that requires no elbow grease is to throw it in your front loading washing machine. This is perfect for cotton mats, and is a common practice at gyms for public mats. To wash your mat in the washing machine, place the mat in the machine with a mild detergent ( I love Soak and Eucalan that do not require rinsing) and select a cycle that uses cold water  (a delicate or hand wash cycle is great for this) and if possible remove the mat before the spin cycle or turn off the spin cycle on the machine. When you remove the mat or the cycle stops, simply hang the mat to air dry on a clothes rack, shower curtain rod, towel bar or your porch railing on a nice day. If you absolutely cannot hang your mat, lay it down, place a large towel or beach towel on top of your mat and roll it up carefully. The towel will help absorb moisture, but the mat may not completely dry this way so you will want to check on it and allow it to dry fully.

2. HAND WASHING

You can also wash your mat by hand with dish soap or a gentle soap. Simply add a few drops of your soap to a cup of water (a measuring cup works great for this) and using a sponge or paper towel give you mat a good scrub, rise it thoroughly so there is no slippery residue, wipe with a dry cloth or paper towel and allow to air dry. This method works great for getting the waxy residue off new mats.

3. SPRAY

There are lots of commercial sprays  available to clean your mat, some from yoga mat companies such as Manduka’s mat sprays to those available at your local Walmart. You can also make your own spray easily at home! Mix a few drops of dish soap or mild detergent in a spray bottle with water and a few drops of eucalyptus, lavender or tea tree oil (these oils have antibacterial properties for extra cleansing power) or for a more natural version combine one part water to three parts vinegar in a spray bottle with or without a few drops of on the essential oils listed above.

4. WIPES

A quick and convenient way to clean your mat is with a wipe that is prepared with a cleaning solution. From Clorox wipes to natural versions to those available from yoga companies there are many options to chose from. Wipes come in a variety of packaging from canisters and dispensers to individually wrapped versions that are easy to take to the studio or gym for quick cleanups.

Little People, Yoga Mat

A mat for every yogi

One of the most important accessories for yoga is the yoga mat, which provides a padded (and often sticky) surface for your practice. There are as many types and brands of yoga mats out there as there are practitioners. When recommending a mat for students I suggest that they choose a mat that is appropriate for the type of practice they wish to use it for (do they prefer restful gentle or restorative classes or perhaps sweaty vinyasa or heated classes?), is of an appropriate material (does the student have a skin allergy, environmental concern, etc) and that inspires them to practice. Since my first yoga class, a power yoga class at a local dance studio back in my junior high school days, I have used mats that are too long for my body. While the long mat did not hinder my practice, with every new mat I purchased I longed to find a mat that fit my body and represented me. After one of my favorite mats recently began falling apart I started searching for a new mat, and found exactly what I was looking for- a thick, eco-friendly and chemical free mat that is a full eight inches shorter than a standard mat. As if it was meant to be, the only one in stock at the time I was placing my order was covered with a butterfly pattern- the symbol for Turner’s Syndrome! It seems as I have finally found MY mat.

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