Yoga Mask: Braving the Pandemic whilst Staying Fit and Fab by Hannah Madison

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic and social crisis. It has attacked societies at their very core. It has created a knock-on effect that radically changed almost all aspects of our lives. Hence, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2020) recommends social distancing, regular washing of hands, and the wearing of face masks. Albeit the social hiatus and interruption brought by the pandemic, certain facets of life continue, such as the need for being fit and fab. As fitness studios start to reopen, a lot of fitness enthusiasts ask this mind-boggling question, “To wear or not wear yoga mask during exercise?”

If you are looking for an answer to the question, consider yourself lucky. This article endeavors to cover basic questions and gives you simple and practical answers.

1. Why should you wear a yoga mask?

The CDC recommends the wearing of masks whenever you are in public (e.g., public transportations, gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, retail stores, etc.) or where you are unable to maintain physical distancing of at least six feet from others. In place of said recommendations, gym and fitness centers‘ owners and management are also duty-bound to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. The CDC’s guidance seemed simple and straightforward but has raised a lot of questions and confusion.

CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield says, “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” Simply put, masks are essential tools to protect yourself and others.

On the contrary, Grayson Wickham, a physical therapist, says that people with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions should take caution when wearing masks since such wearing would impede airflow and might only cause serious problems. Wickham also adds that the severity of their conditions is a decisive factor in whether or not they should wear a yoga mask.

In the context of exercising, gyms are not virus-proof venues. When people exercise or execute their workout routines, respiratory droplets may spread at an increased rate since breathing may intensify. This connotes that social distancing, limiting the number of patrons, and constant cleaning of equipment may not suffice. Ergo, combining all the additive effects and the wearing of yoga masks gives additional protection to the wearer. As cliché as it sounds, it is better safe than sorry.

2. How would it feel to exercise whilst wearing a yoga mask?

Recognize that the thickness of the material dictates the level of the mask’s airflow restriction. Compared to medical-grade masks, a yoga mask has a breathable and stretchy fabric. Hence, they are more comfortable to use. However, Scott McAfee, a physical therapist at MovementX, says that the wearing of masks compared with normal breathing decreases the airflow into your lungs. Sounds alarming, right? But do not fret! McAfee further adds that the body will adapt over a few weeks by becoming more efficient at metabolizing oxygen. Hence, the more you use a yoga mask in your exercises, the more your body gets accustomed to reduced airflow. The key is to be sensitive to your body’s warning signals. If you are feeling lethargic, nauseous, or fatigued – then take a break. Listen to your body and do not overdo exercising.

But what if I have those conditions?

In that case, you can still carry on with your yoga or workout routine, in the absence of a yoga mask, in indoor environments such as the confines of your home. Note that the CDC recommends that people who have respiratory or cardiovascular conditions should take caution when wearing workout masks.

3. When wearing a mask, should you dismiss social distancing?

NO. Given the CDC guidelines, the social distancing of at least six feet should be maintained at all costs even when a patron is wearing a yoga mask. Face masks and face coverings are mandatory when you are around people who do not live in your household.

4. How do you choose the right yoga mask for you?

Always make sure that your yoga mask has at least two layers of fabric. That way, it could offer protection whilst allowing you to breathe comfortably. You could also test which material works for you and see which yoga mask feels more comfortable. And a piece of advice: when hitting the gym or doing yoga, always bring a spare yoga mask since they are no longer an effective shield and barrier when they become damp.

5. How do you wear a yoga mask?

Per CDC recommendations, masks should cover the nose and mouth. It should also be secured under the chin. Please note that masks, of any shape and form, should only be worn by people aging two years and above. Consider these tips to ensure the effectiveness of your yoga mask:

Proper wearing

Yoga masks should be worn consistently. Wash your hands before putting them on. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, face, mouth, and even the mask.

Proper removal

Do not touch the front of the mask, rather remove it by ear loops or ties. Then, wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds.

Proper cleaning

Wash your yoga mask regularly. Always remember to wash your hands before putting your yoga mask and after taking it off. You can use regular laundry detergent, and you can either hand-washed or machine-washed the yoga mask.

Proper storage

Once dried and cleaned, store them at a clean and dry space, such as your cabinet and drawers filled with fresh clothes. Just my two cents, make sure to put them in places where they are visible to you so you won’t forget putting them on.

Wearing a yoga mask may seem like an inconvenience whilst exercising, but remember that there is no price for safety and good health. It is not only a tool that would protect you from the invisible enemy, but it also protects other people and the rest of the community. Amid the uncertainty, being cautious, and wearing the right tool would help us in braving this pandemic. May the force be ever with us!