The Dirty Manduka

As I write this, the mighty Manduka hangs from the curtain rod in the shower, defeated and pathetic, haphazardly dripping on the linoleum floor.  It has just succumbed to its first washing in a very long time.  I am both embarrassed and somehow proud to admit that I have not cleaned my mat once in the past eleven months.  Until today.

I practice 6 days a week, for at least a couple of hours, often more.  And I do sweat.  A lot.  In my defense, I always use a towel over my mat when I practice, which I alternate and wash frequently, but this still adds up to almost a year of towel-filtered sweat and grime compiling on my mat.  When I realized how long it had been, the thought occurred to me to put if off for an entire year just for the hell of it, but the funk was starting to bother me and the very idea of another child's pose beginning to make me queasy.

My reasons for not having washed my mat are likely a combination of simple laziness coupled with a strong aversion to being a whole day without the mat while it dries.  Get attached much?  I do, apparently.  It's not as if, should I be so desperate, that I could not bust out a practice on the bare floor.  I've been known to find myself mid-asana in a variety of environments, so it's not simply the need for practice that has kept me from scrubbing the thing down once in a while.  There must be more to it.  I chose, over and over again, even on the eve of a rest day, not to wash the mat, almost as if I were attached to what the physical accumulation of hours of practice represents.  Gross and weird, I know, but I think it may be the reality.

At the insistence of the boyfriend, who felt very strongly that this had gone on long enough, I gathered up the Manduka, the scrub brush, some soap, and trudged my load to the tub, where I laid out the giant mat as best I could, turned the water on hot, and began to spray her down.  It was an awkward endeavor. The mat is far too big a beast for our tiny tub.  I managed to soak myself and the entire bathroom floor before the job was done, but I gave her the good scrubbing she had coming to her and watched the gray, soapy water, the residue of countless hours of effort to shed the very muck I scrubbed and it's spiritual equivalents wash away down the drain.

After hanging the mat and sopping up the floor, I ran my fingers over the black surface, slick with moisture, feeling somehow it had changed.  Something would be different.

Maybe the mat will be stickier.  Maybe the absence of the lingering odor of previous efforts will make my practice more pure, more independent of past experience or future expectations.  Maybe I can simply enjoy child's pose a little bit more.  In any case, I'm glad to have it done.

Here's to another year of not washing the mat.  ;)


On a side note, I have an announcement:  Damn Good Yoga is all grown up!  I am now blogging from the big-girl URL of http://www.damngoodyoga.com.  Make a note of it, my darlings. 



  1. HIlarious!! I have similar logistical issues with washing my Prana Natural rubber mat: it's a behemoth! Next up I have to move it halfway across the world... we'll see how it likes that!!

  2. La Gitane - When it comes to washing the mat, I feel like everyone else knows this magical secret, how to quickly and easily clean a yoga mat, that I've managed to miss. It's a big pain and a sloppy mess... hence, the long stretch of un-washing.

    Good luck with the big move!

  3. No secret here - it's a big pain, and I avoid it as long as possible too.

    I just washed my extra-long, extra-thick Jade mat last week, and it was quite awkward. We only have a shower stall, and it weighs >12 pounds when dry, so that was "fun." Sure smells nice now (I used Dr. Bronners Lavender soap), but if anything it's more slippery, not less. It'll sort itself out eventually, hopefully.

  4. Adam - Your mat weighs more than 12 lbs?!? Geez. That is a beast.