Yoga, The Contact Sport

Webster’s defines “sport” as “any activity or experience that gives enjoyment or recreation; an activity requiring more or less vigorous bodily exertion…” so yoga definitely qualifies for the “sport” moniker. But what about the “contact” part? Contact sports are the ones where participants are generally expected to slam into one another. While yoga, hopefully, doesn’t result in that kind of contact, there is definitely a more subtle contact that occurs with your fellow participants. And it’s insidious because of its hidden nature and potential consequences.

Almost without exception, the articles that have appeared about protecting yourself from antagonistic microbes at the gym and while doing yoga, recommend wiping down gym equipment with anti microbial towlettes and bringing your own yoga mat to the facility. While the towlette treatment may work for machines,  unrolling your personal yoga mat onto a studio/fitness center floor, then rolling it back up again for storage, and feeling like you’re a paragon of personal hygiene, is the height of absurdity. Your mat has just made intimate “contact” with all the human detritus (think sweat, saliva, hair, dead skin-a virtual microbial snack bar) that was left behind by the last class and now you have rolled it up ensuring that all the aforementioned have been transferred to the “clean” side of your mat for your next class. Never mind that you’ve probably put your mat inside a yoga bag, or the trunk of your car where that microbial load is making whoopee at alarming rates in this dark, warm, moist, incubator-like place.

The National Hockey League and the National Football League recognize the importance of being proactive about decreasing the microbial load on their equipment for the prevention of illness that affects their bottom line when a player gets sick. Some antibiotic resistant bacteria like Methycillin Resistant Staphlococcus Aureus (MRSA- are common and can be life threatening because they are fast moving with very limited treatment options. After several outbreaks of MRSA in locker rooms (think warm, moist places with lots of people- like yoga studios?), professional sports teams researched and got serious about prevention. The end result was investing in equipment to sanitize their sports equipment.

The point is that pro sports equipment managers and trainers recognize the dangers of microbial contaminants to their players and their team’s bottom line. They spend thousands of dollars to prevent both. You may think that yoga and professional sports are far apart. And in mission and spirit you are correct. But microbial organisms are not selective about the intent or mind-set of their hosts. As long as you are offering a warm, moist environment, with a snack-bar thrown in, you can count on microbes contacting you.

For less than $2/day, your studio or fitness center can provide a Matsana machine for customers to keep mats, yours and theirs, healthy. Healthy mat, healthy yoga.

Tell your studio that you want one where you practice.


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