While the exact origin of Yoga is still widely debated, we do know that it has been around for well over 2000 years – constantly changing and evolving as yoga reaches new cultures. Hot yoga is one of the more recent adaptations of the traditional yoga, the most popular of which is Bikram Yoga, founded by Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s. 50 years later, Bikram Yoga studios are popping up worldwide – from large studies in major cities dedicated solely to Hot Yoga to suburban gyms offering classes looking to draw in more patrons. The concept is that heating a room to over 100° Fahrenheit while doing a yoga series not only helps your muscles stretch better, but also helps flush more toxins for “a better cleansing session”.
What about the germs in a hot yoga facility?
A regular yoga facility carries all kinds of contact germs such as Athlete’s Foot, Staphylococcus, Ringworm, etc. on some of the shared mats and equipment. However, in a hot yoga studio, the extreme environmental conditions present a much higher chance of additional lingering fungus and bacteria, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which has an optimal growing temperature of 95°F (according to the CDC). Bikram Yoga, for example, has some of the strictest rules for its teachers as well as its studios – according to BikramYoga.com, the room must be heated to 105°F with 40% humidity and carpet is the only approved flooring for classrooms. These environmental conditions coupled with the carpet, which is much harder to keep clean as opposed to hardwood or laminate floors, requires significantly more cleaning by the staff to attempt to provide a cleaner environment for patrons.
Prevention and Cleaning Methods
So what can these hot yoga studios do to prevent the spread of contact germs?
- The studio can recommend (or even require) its patrons bring their own equipment (mat, block, towel, etc.)
- Many studios offer daily loaned/rented equipment – staff should sterilize all equipment after each use (this includes wiping down mats and blocks with a bleach solution and washing towels provided by the studio with bleach)
- The studio should make sure the carpets in the Bikram studios are sanitized regularly, ideally between classes (unfortunately, many studios have no downtime between classes and thus do not sanitize the carpets)
- Many studios provide shower facilities for before and after class use – this is when patrons can do their part to protect themselves and others (while most will not shower prior to their session, showering afterwards will eliminate most bacteria that you may have picked up in class)
A select few studios in Manhattan have also taken advantage of the Odorox® commercial series to alleviate the requirement of constant cleaning between sessions. While cleaning and decontaminating using traditional methods is always recommended, the Odorox® technology provides the additional assurance that anything that may have been missed will be taken care of. Utilizing the Odorox® Boss™ model, studios such as Bikram NYC are able to provide constant protection and real-time cleaning to effectively eliminate these harmful bacteria and fungi from air, surfaces, and contents.