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Yoga mats need to be broken in because new mats tend to be slick and slippery. The key to breaking in a yoga mat is to use them as much as possible. However, you can speed up the process by treating its surface with salt and water in what is commonly known as a “salt bath”.
Having a high-quality yoga mat is important but new yoga mats tend to be slippery at first. It is important to have your hands and feet grip well on your yoga mat to insure stability, balance, and ultimately safety.
In this article, I will be discussing why new yoga mats are slick and how you should break in your new yoga mat.
Why Yoga Mats Need To Be Broken In
As I said before, new yoga mats are often slick.
It’s hard to focus on your yoga practice when your hands or feet slide out from under you when you’re focusing on your form, balance, or reaching for more mental and physical strength to hold a pose for just a bit longer.
In addition, slipping during yoga practice can cause injuries such as sprained pulled muscles or sprained joints.
It is normal for yoga mats to be slippery when new. Most common materials used for yoga mats such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), rubber, and thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) arrived coated with a surface film that protects the mat but makes it slick.
Even the higher-end brands of yoga mats tend to be slippery when brand new. Thus, nearly all yoga mats must be broken in to make them stickier and increase your grip when moving through your yoga practice.
How To Break In A Yoga Mat
There are two ways to break in a new yoga mat. You can use it regularly until it’s broken in, or you can use one of the proven methods to break in your yoga mat faster. These methods include a salt bath, vinegar bath, or even leaving it out in the sun.
First, let’s explore breaking in a new yoga mat by just using it.
Time To Break In A New Yoga Mat
For those new to yoga and who only practice yoga three times a week, it takes about three months for their new yoga mat to be broken in. The process of breaking in a new yoga mat is a progression and not an on/off switch. With each day of your practice, you and your yoga mat will get better.
It takes most experienced yoga people two to four weeks to break in a new yoga mat. The amount of time required varies based on the yoga practice. Factors that speed up the process include practicing for longer or more often, more aggressive poses and transitions, and the amount of sweat on your yoga mat.
Now let’s explore some ways that you can break in a new yoga mat faster.
8 Ways To Break In A Yoga Mat Faster
1. Do Yoga More Often
The easiest and most natural way to break in your yoga mat faster is to do yoga more often.
Not only will practicing yoga more often help your yoga mat get broken in, but it will help you gain a fuller mastery of your yoga practice and yourself.
2. Work Out Harder
Yoga mats are a good surface for all kinds of exercise, not just yoga. Some of these more high-impact exercises will help break your yoga mat in faster.
For example, the pounding of a good HIIT Workout will do as much to wear the slickness off of your yoga mat as a week of yoga practice.
Don’t worry about harming your yoga mat as long as you’re wearing soft-souled workout shoes and not poking at your mat with pointy or sharp-edged exercise equipment.
3. Salt Bath
If you feel that your mat is still slippery even after several uses, then you can try giving it a good exfoliating treatment. A salt bath is the most common way to speed up the process of breaking in yoga mats.
This involves simple materials that can be found at home. All you need is some salt, a brush/towel, and warm water. The first step is to sprinkle the surface of your mat with salt, moisten the salt by sprinkling water over it, and then let the whole thing sit for a while.
After eight to twelve hours, take your yoga mat outside and brush the now dry salt off your yoga mat with a handheld cleaning brush or old towel. Use the garden hose or showerhead to wash the rest of the salt off of your mat.
Once it is fully dry you can use your yoga mat to check if it has a better grip.
You might need to repeat this process to get your yoga mat to the level of grip that is most comfortable for your practice.
4. Sun Bath
While a salt bath is the most common process to expedite the break-in process, others believe that leaving your mat exposed to the sun for a few hours will break it in faster. However, we believe this depends on the material that your mat is made.
Rubber mats should not be exposed directly to sunlight as the sun’s rays will break down your mat’s rubber material quite quickly and will not only break in your yoga mat but actually break it down and shorten its useful life.
5. Vinegar Bath
A vinegar bath is another effective way to break in a yoga mat faster.
All you need is a mixture of a few drops of dishwashing detergent in equal parts water and white vinegar. Mix this solution and use a cleaning brush or old rag to spread the vinegar bath over your mat’s surface. If you have a sprayer bottle, you can choose to spray the solution on your mat.
The acidity of the vinegar will kind of melt away the top layer of greasy film. A vinegar bath is much faster than a salt bath so it should be rinsed in only five to ten minutes.
After rinsing, allow your mat to dry thoroughly and test your mat to see if you need to repeat the process again.
6. Washing Machine Ride
You can also break in your new yoga mat faster by washing it inside your clothes washing machine. Before you try this method, make sure to check if your machine can handle the weight of a wet mat. A wet yoga mat can easily weigh thirty to forty pounds.
This process is fairly easy. Just put your mat inside your washing machine with no soap. Set the timer to about 40 minutes and select delicates. After the spin cycle, much of the water will be removed, but you’ll still need to hang your yoga mat to dry it.
7. Abuse Your Yoga Mat
Taking less care of your yoga mat will help break it in faster. All the team members here at Charmed Yoga normally roll our yoga mats up and tuck them in the corner to keep our homes tidy and protect our yoga mats.
However, if you need to break in a new yoga mat you can instead leave it lying out after your yoga practice. While we normally practice yoga barefoot, walking on your yoga during the day (either barefoot or in clean shoes) will help break in your yoga mat.
8. Once Sided Practice
Many yoga mats can are two-sided, which means that you can practice on either side of the mat. If you consistently use one side, you’ll break your yoga mat in faster.
Will Breaking In Your Yoga Mat Shorten Its Useful Life?
Breaking in a yoga mat with any fast method will shorten its useful life. A well broken-in yoga mat actually has some damage to the surface and over time that damage will move deeper. However, the life of your yoga mat will only be reduced by a few weeks or months.
A lot of people also have a misconception that breaking in their mats will destroy their quality and run the risk of wasting their money. After all, good yoga mats tend to be a bit pricey.
Yoga mat manufacturers have accounted for the breaking-in process in the durability of the materials they use for yoga mats and the reduced useful life of your mat will be negligible.
Why Do Salt And Water Break In A Yoga Mat?
A salt bath mimics but speeds up, the natural breaking-in process of walking on and sweating on your yoga mat. Our sweat contains salt that breaks down the slippery film on the surface of our mats while our feet and hands roughen the surface just like the salt crystals.
If I Use Yoga Towel Will I Still Need to Break In My Yoga Mat?
A Yoga Mat Towel will not entirely solve a slippery yoga mat. Yoga towels are usually put on top of new yoga mats to give you more stability until the yoga mat is fully broken-in. Some yoga mats have grippy undersides to really help them stay in place.
If you are not sure what a yoga towel is, you can click here to see many variations on Amazon.
It is important to note that yoga towels are auxiliary equipment for yoga practice. In most cases, yoga towels should not replace yoga mats because they do not provide the same cushioning and stability that a yoga mat provides.
Do you have other tips on speeding up the break-in process that was not mentioned in this article? Let me know in the comment section below.