Shaucha, a niyama that Yoganand will discuss in a few months, is a form of self-discipline about cleanliness.  Yoga studios work to combat bacteria as best they can by washing mats, using mat cleaner after classes, washing blankets and eye pillow covers.  Director of Clinical Biology at NYU Medical Center, Philip M. Tierno, Ph.D.,  says yoga centers supply both direct and indirect contact to germs.

Bacteria can survive several hours to several days on inanimate objects while viruses can linger for weeks.  Warm, humid places are the perfect breeding ground.  In addition, the average human touches his or her face 18 times per hour according to Charles Gerba, Ph.D., of microbiology at University of Arizona, passing germs from the nose and mouth to the skin and back again.

Not to scare but also not to take lightly, it has recently come to our attention that MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) might just be showing up on your yoga mat.  MRSA is a common germ found on the skin or in the nose.  The germ typically doesn’t cause a problem for most people but sometimes it can cause serious infections on the skin, pneumonia or infections in the blood stream.

MRSA is a type of staph infection that is often resistant to antibiotics.  Yoga studios and gyms are crawling with MRSA and all it takes is a tiny bit of friction for it to get into the skin or cut.  Placing your face on a yoga mat that isn’t yours is the perfect way to do this.

There are many ways to avoid contracting MRSA:

  • Bring your own mat and clean/disinfect it regularly
  • Fold your mat so that bottom of the mat doesn’t touch the top
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after class
  • When using an eye pillow, if you don’t bring your own, use a tissue over your eyes first
  • When making physical contact with a student, you may want to touch clothing rather than skin
  • Don’t teach class when you are sick
  • Don’t go to class when you are sick

Click here for a pdf on Preventing MRSA at home.