Posts Tagged ‘Jivamukti’

Hot yoga can be a messy business. You can’t be afraid of a little or a lot of sweat. But we’ve all heard the tales of people getting sick from communal mats. In fact, the concern at one point seemed to be so widespread that the New York Times covered the story a couple years back.

Communal Yoga Mats: Beware of Germs, by Abby Ellin. “In the last two years, Dr. Cohen said, he has seen a 50 percent spike in patients with athlete’s foot and plantar warts. The likely culprit? Unclean exercise mats, he said…

Research has not confirmed the link between unclean yoga mats and fungal, bacterial and viral infections better known as jock itch, plantar warts and staph infections. Nor can dermatologists and podiatrists conclusively trace these ailments to dirty yoga mats.

Still, some are making unofficial connections.

I must say in the past two years, it seems yoga studios have stepped up they’re cleaning protocol on communal mats. At Jivamukti you put your mat in a laundry bin following class to be washed before the next person uses it- and they’re not even a hot studio. At YogaWorks you also hand your mat back to someone at the front desk, but I honestly don’t know what they do with them once they’re handed over. Most common is the spray bottle solution. Studios like Prana Power Yoga offer spray bottles with cleaning solution but it’s up to the individual to decide how diligent they are going to clean up after themselves. Unfortunately, Prana also offers paper towels…yikes…SO not green. Where can we find compromise? Shiva Shakti in Northampton, MA offers spray bottles with sponges. But I question how much bacteria a sponge can host and transfer from mat to mat? I’m no scientist so I say invest in buying and bringing your own mat! Especially if your studio has mat storage. No one wants to grab that rented mat and have to wonder if it’s wet because it’s been cleaned or because it has been sweat on, ew.

And, I know studios make it a habit to try and clean the floors in between each class but some transitions simply don’t allow enough time to mop the floors before people swarm in. But really, there’s nothing like stepping in a puddle of someone else’s sweat that gets you off on the wrong foot (really, no pun intended).

As for cleaning your own mat, Yoga Journal’s advice is this:

If your mat is lightly soiled, use a spray bottle, damp sponge, or terry cloth rag to apply a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. Rub the soiled areas. Wipe the mat with clean water; then rub with a dry terry cloth towel. Hang to air dry.

If your mat is heavily soiled, submerge it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent; use very little soap as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use. Thoroughly hand wash the mat and rinse in clean water. After squeezing out the excess water, lay the mat on a dry towel and roll the mat and towel together. Stepping on the rolled up mat will squeeze more moisture out of the mat and into the towel. Then unroll and hang to air dry.”- Donna Raskin

If you’re looking for an even deeper clean, visit the sight of your mat’s maker- often times your mat can handle a trip through the washing machine and even dryer!

Stay clean!


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Eliza & Britt

Miss Liza!  In our same visit to Prana Power this weekend, we did notice a permit for 2 showers!  But they still sell water bottles.  Shame shame.

As Liza continues her teacher training, I recommended that she seek out a kirtan (chanting).  My understanding of this, is that by chanting the sanskrit names of gods, you are evoking their presence and perhaps getting closer to them, a vital step to enlightenment.  Mostly chants are call and response, but many times if a mantra is repeated over and over and people know it, they just continue on singing.  I’ve been to several chants, all of which are always a little weird to start out, but end up being a lot of fun.  My first chant was in LA with Krishna Das (if you’ve ever stepped foot in a yoga studio, you’ve heard him- he’s the ultimate yoga rockstar).  There is always an interesting mix of people at these events, hippies, gentrified yogis, people who dance, people who sway, people who do absolutely nothing but observe.  The chants I’ve been to have always had great musicians and personally, I like a lot of the music they play!  Energy builds as the night goes on, and slowly people let go and more and more participate.  There is definitely a sense of freedom and child-like play that you feel when you’re in one of these.  Think about the last time that you sang out loud with a group of people.  Probably in grade school!  So, at least in my experience, its doesn’t matter what I’m chanting, shiva, shanti, krishna, om- its the ability to let go of adult conventions and share with people around you.  I’ve listed some New York kirtans, which you should absolutely try to make!

Yogaworks is doing one Saturday, August 16th from 7:30-9:30pm at their midtown studio.

Integral Yoga Institute does one every Friday at 8.

Jivamukti hold satsangs every Wednesday at 8:30pm, except the first Wednesday of the month, when the program begins at 8:00pm.

The Omega Institute is doing as Esctatic Chant Weekend from August 29-September 1st, which would really be jumping in full force!  Krishna Das with Carioca, Sheila Chandra, Krishna Das, Miten, Deva Premal, Jai Uttal, and Wah! are all expected to be there.


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I came to New York City at 18 to attend NYU. At the time I had absolutely no experience with yoga. This quickly changed when I met my freshmen roommate Britt. Not only did Britt practice yoga at 18 but she had been practicing since childhood. Our Freshmen year she practiced daily at Jivamukti while I was stuck on an elliptical at NYU’s Cole’s Sports Center, a depressing windowless gym with old and limited exercise machines. It wasn’t long until my curiosity piqued and off I went with her. I have to admit I didn’t even know what down dog was and I remember being very nervous- I felt uncomfortable and I looked at the clock throughout the entirety of the practice. And to tell the truth, I didn’t like it. At the time an hour and a half felt too long, the poses seemed too difficult- I felt frustrated that I was not yet strong enough to chaturanga, and I couldn’t seem to stay focused. I thought I had given it a try and it wasn’t for me.

It wasn’t until stress of school caught up to me that I tried again. At the time I was living in the West Village- I began attending Jivamukti West (since closed) and occasionally hopping on the 1 train to go to Yoga Works Westside studio uptown. I was so in need of something in my life that could refresh me and de-stress me. It was only then at the height of this need that I was able to give in to yoga. I quieted my mind and stopped thinking about it – I started doing it instead. The second time around I was able to be less judgmental about yoga and about my own abilities. I became more relaxed, at ease and open with my practice. I realized how this was the most and perhaps only place in the world that I felt an absence of competition. Competition for my time, my attention, competitive with myself or with the people around me. This was bliss! Since this time (2005) I’ve developed a stronger practice, Jivamukti West closed, and my favorite instructor at the Yoga Works Westside changed studios.

And now, I’m on a continuous quest to find the best New York City studios that challenge both physically and mentally so I can strengthen and grow my practice and share with you all. My evaluations will be based on studio location, atmosphere, schedule, teacher and community vibe. I also take my fitness quite seriously and I am a strong believer that a rigorous yoga practice solves both problems with the mind and body so I will also focus on the level of intensity and rigor at the various studios. I encourage all readers to actively contribute your own point of views if you agree, disagree or have any questions.



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