Look, I'm not a total germaphobe, but I don't like getting gross, dirty stuff on me if I can avoid it.
And that's just one reason that the conventional way of rolling a yoga mat always bothered me: As you're rolling, you wind up getting the surface that's in contact with the floor rolled directly against your practice surface — which then gets all that dirt on you, and well, that's just kind of nasty.
I mean, who knows who's filthy feet, dripping sweat, sneezed-out boogers, and yeast-ridden skin flakes have been all over that floor?
Okay, maybe I am something of a germaphobe. But there are plenty of other reasons I felt compelled to come up with a better mat-rolling method ...
For one thing, the normal way of rolling a mat — from one end to the other — takes a long time. It's slow and it's fussy.
You get through half dozen arduous rotations only to go: "Darn, this mat is getting all off-course and rolling at an angle. Hmmph. Better start over ..."
That's kind of a bummer, and it is not the way I want to wind up a blissful yoga practice.
Nor do I enjoy starting my next yoga practice with a foam yoga mat that unrolls partially — only to bounce back into a stubborn curl that refuses to lie flat.
I mean really, who wants to practice yoga on a mat shaped like a nordic sled?
So, one day, many years ago, I spontaneously developed an alternative mat-rolling approach I liked better.
I later shared it with some yoga-loving friends and they were delighted! "Wow," they said, "this is so much easier!" And indeed, it is.
I later discovered that a bunch of other folks had figured out this method on their own, too. But not nearly as many as you might think! And thus, alas, millions are still rolling their mats the old (slow, dirty, curly) way.
So, while I cannot claim to be the only one who "invented" this fold-then-roll approach (which frankly, is so simple, it's silly), I am nonetheless here to share it with the world.
My dream is that someday, we'll hit that "hundredth monkey" moment when the entire human species will spontaneously adopt this method as "the" way of rolling a yoga mat, and life as we know it will be forever changed.
One fun little thing I noticed (a thing that I don't believe anybody else has yet, or if they have, they haven't bothered talking about it): If you roll your yoga mat this way, you wind up with a nice little yin-yang symbol at the end.
For me, gazing upon this ancient symbol (which that represents balance, duality, harmony, the natural order of things) has become a mini-practice in and of itself.
Taking a moment to notice and appreciate it has become a ritual of sorts for me: It's a moment that marks the completion of my yoga and my rentry into regular life, a moment where I can choose to carry forward the mental and physical equanimity I've gained by during my practice.
This micro-meditation on the yin-yang helps me to wind up with an affirmation of my own wholeness and wellbeing. Much nicer than contemplating an off-kilter rolling job.
Anyway, whether you adopt this alternative mat-rolling approach to avoid filth, to save time and hassle, or to avail yourself of a harmonic convergence of conscious, yin-yang mindfulness, it's all good. Whatever your reason, I heartily recommend you give it a try.