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Mask on the Mat

Our Search for the *Perfect* Hot Yoga Mask

 

It goes without saying that working out is good for both your physical and mental health. The sense of achievement, the endorphin rush, need we say more? However, exercising during COVID-19, a time of uncertainty, isolation, and ever changing health mandates, can be challenging. 

Recently, Dr. Bonnie Henry has stated that it is now an “expectation” for people to wear a face mask while in a public space. While the announcement promotes greater health and safety practices in the province, many Vancouverites have been asking the same question: How can I comfortably wear a face mask while working out?

With so many different options, and price points out there, the MYV team struggled to find a face mask that just worked! We wanted a face mask that was comfortable, stayed on our face, and didn’t distract us while we were practicing hot yoga and dripping in sweat. 

Luckily, the hive mind of our MYV community stepped up big time during our Mask on the Mat Challenge and provided us with tried-and-true recommendations for their favourite face masks to exercise in.

 

 

General Tips and Tricks for Selecting a Mask

By far, the most popular recommendation was a *basic layered cotton face mask*. Cotton face masks are a solid choice for protection as they are often more comfortable and breathable than many synthetic fabrics on the market. Finding a cotton face mask with a tight seal is a non-negotiable while working out, and should be a priority when shopping around.

Whatever fabric you go with, a *structured mask* works best. Face masks made from a loose piece of fabric tend to shift around on your face when you breathe deeply, and can sometimes block the nostrils when you inhale – definitely not what we want in our hot yoga practice. If you have a structured cotton mask that keeps the fabric away from your nose and mouth, you’re golden!

To create a better fit and ensure that your mask doesn’t slip and slide around your face during a yoga class, *adjustable ear straps* are a feature to look out for. When you mask fits properly, you will be able to pay less attention to adjusting and fixing your mask during practice, which means more time spent being mindful and present. 

Some students from our community and the greater Modo Yoga community have found that *disposable masks* work quite well in the hot room. The breathability of a disposable mask will keep you smiling but you may need to bring multiple masks just in case the first one gets too sweaty, or worse, tears mid class! In a pinch, disposable masks will get you through, but being  true to our Be Green pillar, we suggest going the reusable route. 

Reusable masks don’t need to be fancy or store-bought. Many of our students tried their hand at creating their own masks out of cotton fabric they had laying around or repurposing old bandanas. You can find lots of tutorials online on how to make your own *homemade mask*. If you’re looking to get crafty, this is a great option.

 

 

Masks Recommendations from our Community

From our Mask on the Mat Challenge, we learned that there is no best mask for a hot yoga practice. Not every mask will work for every person so it is best to try out a few until you find one that works for you and then stick with it! Here is a list of 11 masks that were tried and tested by our students and teachers in the hot room and during other physical activities:

 

Pillar Heights

Pillar heights offers five different mask designs (logo free!) that come in many different shapes, sizes, and colours. Our recommendation is the Chariot Mask as it is structured with a close fit. All their masks are made with protection and safety in mind. As a bonus, Pillar Heights is a local and sustainable company! 

  • Made in Canada? Yes! Vancouver based company, masks made in Canada.
  • Material? 100% cotton.
  • Structured? Yes! Sits away from your face, nose, and mouth
  • Adjustable? Adjustable nose piece and adjustable full head strap or ear loops
  • Price? $14-17, with many customizable options.

 

Cutting Room

The Cutting Room is a local Vancouver company that is a one stop shop for designers and brands looking for assistance in navigating the complex procedures of creating a new collection. They are currently selling a variety of masks in both kids and adult sizes that are lightweight and comfortable. The masks come in different styles and have space to add a filter if you desire. And if you needed another reason to love this company, part of the proceeds from all their masks go towards the local Food Bank!

  • Made in Canada? Yes! Canadian company based in Vancouver.
  • Material? 100% Cotton.
  • Structured? Varies with style.
  • Adjustable? No, but offers different sizes.
  • Price? $25 for three, $55 for six.

 

Wedding Star

Wedding Star is a Canadian company that focuses on wedding gifts and accessories. They offer masks that are lightweight, structured and feature adjustable ear loops and nose pieces. There are lots of different colours and patterns to choose from so you can remain stylish. Wedding Star masks have three layers of protection and a pocket to insert a filter if you choose

  • Made in Canada? Yes! Canadian company based in Alberta.
  • Material? Cotton and rayon blend.
  • Structured? Yes! Sits away from your face, nose, and mouth.
  • Adjustable? Yes! Adjustable ear loops and nose piece for custom fit.
  • Price? $13 each

 

Tentree

Tentree is a Canadian apparel company that plants 10 trees for every product sold. Their Protect Mask is a double layered mask with a space to add an additional filter (available for purchase) and is made from recycled and repurposed materials. The masks come in a pack of three and are pre-washed to ensure that they won’t change shape.

  • Made in Canada? Canadian company, but masks ethically made in China.
  • Material? Outer layer: 53% hemp, 44% recycled polyester, and 3% elastane; Inner layer: 70% organic cotton, and 30% hemp.
  • Structured? No. 
  • Adjustable? Non-adjustable.
  • Price? $25 for a pack of 3.

 

Knix

Knix is a Canadian company that is known for making bras and underwear, and specializes in creating comfortable leak-proof products. Their FreshFix Air Mask filters 99.9% of bacteria and is lightweight, breathable, and liquid repellant. 

  • Made in Canada? Canadian company, based in Toronto.
  • Material? 91% polyester, 9% polyurethane.
  • Structured? No.
  • Adjustable? Adjustable ear straps.
  • Price? $20 each, or $35 for two.

 

Olive and Splash

Olive and Splash makes three different masks: this Infinity, which is ultra lightweight, the Air Mask, which is medium weight, and the Original Fit, which is heavy weight. Check out all of their mask options online and see which one is best for you! The Infinity Athletic Mask has positive reviews and comes in a number of different sizes. It is made from a lightweight double layered micromesh, which makes it more breathable than other masks but may not work at blocking the spread of particles or bacteria as well as a thicker cotton mask can. 

  • Made in Canada? Yes! Canadian company based in Ontario. 
  • Material? Varies with type of mask – Bamboo cotton or micro mesh.
  • Structured? No.
  • Adjustable? No, but offers different sizes.
  • Price? $25 each.

 

Inner Fire

Inner Fire is a Canadian activewear company that was started by a Modo Yoga Teacher! They create products made from sustainable and recycled materials – we have previously sold their legging and shorts in our studio! Their Consideration Mask is made from that same sustainable material!

  • Made in Canada? Canadian company, based in Vancouver.
  • Material? Recycled polyester spandex, rayon, bamboo, and cotton. 
  • Structured? No.
  • Adjustable? Non-adjustable.
  • Price? $20 each.

 

Zensah

Zensah has a variety of face masks available for purchase: the Ear Loop Face Mask, the Technical Ear Loop Face Mask, the Performance Face Mask, and the Copper Face Mask. The Performance Face Mask in particular is designed to be an athletic mask that is breathable, anti-bacterial, moisture wicking, thermoregulating, and quick drying. It has silver microparticles embedded in the fabric that halt the bacteria growth and keep the masks odor free! It was even one of Mens Health Editor’s pick for most light, comfortable, and breathable face masks on the market – need we say more?

  • Made in Canada? No. American company is based in South Florida.
  • Material? 70% Polyamide, 23% Polypropylene, 5% Elastane, and 2% Silver.
  • Structured? Yes! Sits away from your face, nose, and mouth.
  • Adjustable? Non-adjustable.
  • Price? $16 each.

 

UNIQLO

UNIQLO is known for offering high-quality, functional, and affordable clothing. Their AIRism Mask is lightweight, breathable, and comes in three different sizes. It has three layers: the first made of AIRism fabric wicks away moisture; the second offers extra protection with a washable, built-in filter; the third blocks UV rays using the same AIRism fabric. 

  • Made in Canada? No, company based in Japan.
  • Material? Body is 90% Nylon, 10% Spandex; String/ear loops is 75% polyester, 13% spandex, and 12% Curpo; Filter is made of polypropylene.
  • Structured? Yes! Sits away from your face, nose, and mouth.
  • Adjustable? No, but does offer different sizes.
  • Price? $15 for 3-pack.

 

SHAN

SHAN is a Canadian company best known for high quality swimwear and resort wear. Their Protective Mask comes in three different sizes and is made from eco-friendly material that is quick dry, wrinkle resistant, and bi-elastic without compression. 

  • Made in Canada? Yes! Canadian company based in Quebec. 
  • Material? 75% Polyamide, 25% Elastane.
  • Structured? No. 
  • Adjustable? Non-adjustable.
  • Price? $20 each.

 

Under Armour

Under Armour’s Sport Mask has received mixed reviews. Some people find the fabric to be too thick, but others think it’s just right! The mask is structured so that it sits away from your face and also features a comfortable nose piece that you can adjust to fit your face. It offers three layers of protection: a water resistant outer shell, a polyurethane open-cell foam in the middle, and a soft interior lining with an antimicrobial treatment. The middle layer foam is great to let air through and ensure that the mask is breathable, however, it is harder for moisture and sweat to pass through. 

  • Made in Canada? No, American company.
  • Material? Outer layer: 100% Polyester, Insert: 100% Polyurethane, Interior/ear loops: 77% Nylon/23% Spandex.
  • Structured? Yes! Sits away from your face, nose, and mouth.
  • Adjustable? Adjustable nose piece, but non-adjustable ear straps.
  • Price? $35 each.

 

 

Still hesitant to wear a mask during a yoga practice?

Wearing a mask during class may be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Rather, it can be a challenge that you work towards. Try wearing a mask for just 10 minutes during class. If that feels okay, try 15 minutes next time. Everyone is different and not every mask will work for everyone. Eventually, you may be able to find a mask that works for you, and it will feel like it’s not even there!

Many students found that practicing with a mask gave them peace of mind and allowed them to be more present in their practice. One student has said:

“What I like about wearing a mask during practice is that I don’t feel nervous about letting out an exhale through my mouth. Sometimes I just need a relaxing deep exhale, and with a mask on, I don’t have to worry about breathing around my neighbours!”

Our current studio rule is that a mask must be worn in all common areas of the studio – entryway, changerooms, hot room – and can be taken off once you land on your mat. At this time, we have not mandated that masks be worn during practice. As we continue to see a rise in cases, however, we want you to feel empowered to make your own choice to wear a mask on your mat or not. Our hope is that this blog post will provide you with some great suggestions and tips if you do choose to wear a mask during your yoga practice at the studio. UPDATE: Masks are now required during class (November 2020).

 

As Dr. Bonnie would say, Be kind. Be calm. Be safe.