Before you release that cobra pose and collapse onto your yoga mat, you may want to hear what one medical practitioner has to say. Doctor David Greuner is the managing director and co-founder of NYC Surgical Associates, and he’s on a mission to disinfect the dirty side of yoga. Or at least make you wipe down your mat before and after using it, rather than roll it up until your next class.
“Bacteria can survive on a surface for several hours to days, while viruses can survive longer and even linger for weeks,” Greuner, who’s also a plastic surgeon, wrote in a blog post. “Making skin contact with a dirty yoga mat covered in germs and bacteria can lead to skin infections, acne, toenail fungus and even transfer of the herpes virus and staph and strep infections in susceptible individuals.”
Uh, pass the Wet Wipes, please.
The debate over whether you can contract herpes from skin-to-skin contact has, however, been going on for years, and there still isn’t a ton of evidence that proves it’s possible.
While Greuner’s point shouldn’t be taken lightly (all it takes is 30 seconds to clean the mat with warm water and soap), not all doctors agree.
“If you were doing yoga on a naturist farm you’d certainly want to be very careful,” Doctor Seth Rankin, chief executive of the London Doctors Clinic and a GP told the BBC. “But where people are wearing Lycra or normal gym clothes the chances are incredibly slim.”
A clean yoga mat is a happy yoga mat, and if there’s a way to protect yourself against some nasty cold that’ll put you out of commission for a few weeks this winter, why not clean your fitness surfaces before you use them? After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.