SCENTED YOGA SPACE (& our new MAWU mat spray)

There's a spot just before the stairwell leading up to the yoga studio, where the smell of incense begins to haze out the stagnating aroma of fish fry and marijauna from the ground level tenants in the semi-antiquated building that feels coincidentally like mid-town East Asia - or close enough to India - the land of Yoga.

I imagine the scent floating down the stairs to be the kind generated by the flapping of fairy wings; a gathering of forest fairies I say to Kim, founder of the Gurucat Yoga Shala, during a light musing over the incense which is fast becoming a studio signature, she smiles and says, "fairies sipping on cream sodas". That's it, the now familiar and promising invitation. The scent promise of a space that honours practice, ritual, sacred ways of being and moving - a bridge between inner and outer worlds, the subtle and the gross. 

Some days there is palo santo, others jasmine, most days forest fairy scent, and every day just after a heated class there is the scent of sweat, which is quickly ushered out on a breeze of fans, mops and more incense, ready for the next arrival of willing bodies. Freshly sprayed tea tree oil ends the scent journey for each session; nature's deep cleanser settling into the used rental mats hanging over the passage wall. Personal mats are rolled up, damp with sweat (as is the nature of a predominantly hot yoga studio) and are on their way home to be sprayed or wiped.  

When this yoga practice studio, where I spend many precious hours, both as student and teacher, requested the creation of a Myrrh and Moksha mat spray, I needed no extra encouragement.

Students often choose to spray the Mawu sample off the retail shelf (essentially a 'sanitiser') in studio to help freshen the air because they say it smells "fancy" - even when I let them know it isn't formulated to the strength of a room spray. Mawu fans outside of the yoga studio have told me they use it in their office when they're in need of a "zen" moment, or to freshen their cars. I originally intended to make a great smelling functional product but I hadn't expected the combination of tea tree oil with anything else really, to be received as a luxury of sorts by the senses. It's possible that this kind of luxury is in the production ritual, whereby each batch of Mawu is blended to the same sacred song which becomes a healing sound bath for the plant particles. Perhaps this sound enhances the calibration and high vibration already contained in the precious oils - I like to believe it does.

The unexpected widespread affection for Mawu along with the desire from the beginning to go back and re-label Mawu one day to remove the word sanitiser, was enough reason to add to the Mawu 'scent family' in the form of an alcohol-free mat spray (as well as it originally having been formulated as a functional anti-bacterial spray). Mat sprays must be alcohol-free because this material degrades yoga mats. Upon further research, based on the warning advice of my own yoga mat supplier, I found that certain types of mats should not be sprayed with essential oils or other detergents, as these solutions can also degrade the grip (smooth surface mats). Alternatively, to keep a smooth surface mat fresh, spray the underside with Mawu mat spray, because the bottom of the mat likely makes contact with more yucky things than the sweat from our own bodies. The beauty about this natural mat spray is that it can be used to keep hands fresh and bacteria free too.

The other thing about a yoga mat, the main thing really, is that it is a personal space. The space upon which our bodies move and feel, sweat and heal. It is a representation of the earth that steadies itself for us, as we move across it, feet, hands, whole bodies, supported. When we connect with this awareness, it becomes the reason we choose to place our mats gently and specifically onto the practice floor, rather than slapping them down. The reason we may feel slightly offended when another yogi walks over our mat instead of around it. It becomes a bit sacred, symbolic. Possibly even imbued with a bit of our own magic essence; like a house lived in, or a well used surfboard. Which is why a mat can be taken care of with a light spray, just like a surfer rinses off her board and adds a fresh layer of wax.