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Q & A

Got a question about some aspect of mind-body-spirit fitness? Ask! It can be as earthly as "Can a heart monitor really enhance my workout?" (the short answer to that is yes) or as heady as, "Don't I need to sell all my worldly goods and go live on a mountain top to find enlightenment?" (the short answer here is no). Needless to say, we can't answer every question we receive, but we will take one every month and answer it here. If you've got a burning need to know about something, email us, and you may find your query featured next time around.

I recently purchased a new sticky mat - but it's not very sticky! I do flow yoga, so I sweat a lot, and my hands and feet keep slipping on the mat. This makes it really difficult to maintain certain poses, like Downward Dog. Is there anything I can do to make the mat stickier, or must I buy something else?

(Article continued below.)

Brand new sticky mats often aren't all that sticky and need time to be broken in. Many styles of mat have a coating that can take up to 20 Yoga sessions to wear off. There are a few ways the process can be hastened, however. You can try sponging it down with a vinegar and water solution, or you can even toss it in the washing machine - the setting should be cold water, gentle cycle, and you add a teaspoon of baking soda and a towel or two (this keeps the mat from floating to the surface and the lint from the towels will help "season" the mat). In either case, make sure you hang the mat and let it dry completely (a mat that's still wet will be even more slippery than it was before!). It can take several days for the mat to totally dry.

If you are practicing flow, Ashtanga or another vigorous, sweaty Yoga style, you may need to place a cotton mat over the not-so sticky mat. The cotton will better absorb the sweat, while the rubbery sticky mat underneath will better cling to the floor.

Sometimes it takes a few tries before you find the right mat for your practice. There are many different brands, each made of slightly different material, with different thicknesses. Gaiam even has a mat made of moisture-wicking microfiber.icon Keep in mind, too, that not only do mats need breaking in, they also wear out. If you have one that has seen better days, you may want to get in touch with Eight Limbs Yoga in Chicago - they accept old, clean Yoga mats from students and Yoga studios and recycle them by using them as stuffing for their bolsters. You can keep your mat clean by rinsing your mat in cool water with a very mild detergent (be sparing with the soap to keep you sticky mat from becoming slippery). Again, make sure it dries completely. Believe it or not, there is also a mat washicon for those who are really serious about keeping their mats in shape - what will they think of next?

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