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Is It Safe to Rent a Yoga Mat For Class?

The Disgusting Reason a Yoga Teacher Would Never Rent a Mat From Her Studio

I own four yoga mats, but of course, one rushed Sunday morning, I showed up to teach, only to realise my bag feels unusually light. My eyes close and my head drops. Ugh. I forgot my mat. A friend smiled and pointed to the used mats hanging up. "You could borrow one of those."

I could. I could also blow my nose with dirty tissues from the bin or wipe my face with the used towels in the studio basket. I could borrow a mat. But if I use one of those mats, I am just asking for a cold, stomach bug, or other horrible illness to enter and take over my body. These are the thoughts running through my mind.

I decided to not borrow a yoga mat that day. I practised on the bare wooden floor. It was a more unstable practice, but it made me feel better to avoid all the sweat, saliva, snot, and germs infesting that may be living on those used mats.

Maybe I sound like a complete germaphobe (spoiler alert: I am). But after teaching 16 years of classes, I've seen some pretty nasty things go down on studio mats: puddles of sweat, people picking at toe lint, breaking off toenails, used band-aids, used tissues, farting, and I once saw someone pick their nose and stick it under their mat. And while I could clean a rental mat prior to use, those images would stick with me — and so would the smell! After too many times of not being cleaned after practice, these mats often have an odour that no amount of lavender cleaner can make disappear.

Consider this a PSA to buy your own mat. Aside from germs and overall nastiness, you'll also save money from the rental and having your own mat may even encourage some yoga at home. I've had my Manduka Pro (£75) since 1999 and it looks exactly the same as the day I bought it — totally worth the splurge, especially since it has a lifetime guarantee. Heck, you could even get a £10 mat from Tesco. Just get your own mat so you can breathe and sweat happily without worrying about random grossness from those overly sweat-on mats.

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