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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

Many of us know how addictive hot yoga can be. There’s nothing quite like emerging from a class soothed, stretched, and covered in sweat. 

With the rise of yoga workouts such as CorePower Sculpt, it seems like the practice is more popular than ever — but many people aren’t thinking about how clean their habits are. Several varieties of bacteria and fungi thrive in hot, dark environments, and they especially love yoga mats. Sometimes, people find their post-yoga glow also includes a nasty infection. 

Before you panic and throw out your mat, take a deep breath (inhale and exhale). Many of these issues are also common at the gym, and honestly, they’re super manageable. Next time you’re at the yoga studio, follow these easy steps so you can keep feeling good on the inside and out. 

First, consider investing in a microfiber towel (or a few) to cover your mat during class. There are many varieties to choose from depending on your preferences. For instance, Gaiam sells towels with a grippy bottom layer to prevent you from slipping. But most importantly, these will help keep a lot of the sweat from getting on your mat in the first place, and you can throw them in the washing machine right after class!

Next, if you’re using anything provided by the studio — whether that be blocks, hand weights, or the mat itself — be sure to wipe them down first with the disinfectant wipes provided at the studio. Even if they’ve been cleaned already, it doesn’t hurt to take the extra step to protect yourself against germs. Also, as a courtesy, wipe them down for the next person as well.

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Once class is over, you’re going to want to clean your mat — and no, the disinfectant wipes provided at many studios are not enough. The best methods depend on the type of mat you’re using, so start by looking at the maker’s instructions. Online, you will also find many popular strategies as well. These include wiping it down with soap and warm water or submerging it in the bathtub when it needs a super deep clean. When you’re done cleaning your mat, don’t roll it up again until it’s dry. Instead, lay it out flat to prevent the formation of mildew and mold. 

Finally, if you suspect you’ve gotten an infection, do not return to the studio until you get it treated! In many cases, returning to a hot, sweaty environment will only make it worse, and you could potentially spread it to others if you’re using shared equipment. Be sure to contact your doctor as soon as you can to get everything checked out.

Yes, hot yoga may put you at a relatively higher risk for infection, but that’s no reason to quit your practice entirely. By following these simple steps, you can keep yourself and others safe at the studio. 

Lauren is a senior a UC Berkeley studying English, journalism, and public health. She enjoys writing life, literature, and popular culture. Beyond Her Campus, Lauren edits for the UC Berkeley newspaper in the special issues department and freelances for travel and art publications. In her free time, she enjoys reading and going to yoga.