Given the current flu outbreak, I thought now would be a good time to touch on keeping your mat clean, especially if you borrow a mat. Personally, I think if you are a regular practitioner, you really should have your own mat. I'm a bit particular about putting MY hands/face on a mat where somebody elses feet have been. A huge Eeewww factor for me.
So, here are some options and suggestions for keeping yourself better protected against this flu outbreak and general mat hygiene in general.
Manduka Yoga Mat
1) Obtain your own mat.
Best option in my opinion. There are so many to choose from and it's really a personal preference. Durability? Try Manduka or Jade. Something not so thick? I've had good luck with Hugger Mugger. Environmentally friendly mat? I'm going to send you here to Eco Yogini's site as she did some great research on this topic.
And don't forget to try Amazon.com. They carry most brands and you can save on overall cost and cost of S&H.
Yogitoes Mat Towel
2) Barrier options.
So maybe you don't want to be lugging around a large yoga mat between car and the office and the gym or studio. There are a couple of options available: Yogitoes offers a skidless towel option in a small hand towel size to put at the front of your mat or a large full mat size. It's cotton with small nubblies on the back to help keep it anchored. This is great as a barrier between you and a borrowed mat. This is also great if you sweat a lot on your own mat. Or for travel - folds or rolls up into a nice small size.
Yogitoes can take a bit of getting used to: you may need to dampen the front/back down with a bit of water for traction until you really get sweaty and sometimes your feet have a tendency to "catch" on the towel and you kinda drag it forward. For that you just have to learn to pick up your limbs rather than sliding them across the top.
Best part is IT'S WASHABLE!
Hugger Mugger also offers a lightweight travel mat that is supposed to be thin enough to bundle up into a suitcase.
Again Eco Yogini has done some great research here: Cleaning your Mat.
If your studio or gym doesn't have something out, ask for it! Dirty mats transmit a whole slew of unpleasant bugs. Clean your mat BEFORE and AFTER your session. Really.
And at the risk of sounding like someones Mother, wash your hands before and after practice! A little bit of prevention goes a long way.