Recently, a number of yoga students at the studio have either bought their own mat for the first time or decided it was time for a new one as the old mat wore out. This got me thinking about the significance of having our own mats...
First, purchasing our own yoga mat is an investment in our practice. It symbolizes a commitment to the time that we will spend there. Stepping onto our own mat is a step onto the path of yoga- the long term journey of self awareness and the power of intention.
The unrolling of our own mat is the beginning of creating sacred space. It is our two foot by six foot sanctuary where we can be in our practice. Safe and secure with boundary defined. A space where we leave behind the distractions and preoccupations of the day to day and get quiet. A space where we find our breath, connect with our bodies and acknowledge spirit.
So much transpires on our mats- breakthroughs, breakdowns, drops of sweat and sometimes drops of tears. We run through the gamut of emotions on our mats. We grapple with the physical stuff of human bodies, from sore knees to tight shoulders. We lie on them and breathe on them. We make them our own with our foot and hand prints leaving the marks of practices gone by. We work ourselves out- physically and emotionally. We come to our mats inspired, tired, dirty and clean. We show up. And our mats show up for us- no matter where we unroll them. The glossy floor of the studio or the unswept tiles of our living rooms. We roll up our mats and pack them into suitcases and throw them on the backseats of our cars. We keep them immaculate in pretty little bags or we brush the hair of our beloved pet off them. They get stiff and cold in the winter months (just like us!) and we roll them onto a warm floor and sigh when we lie back…. Aah, we have arrived and doesn't it feel good to just lie on the floor! At the end of practice, they are beds that let us fall back into savasana and really rest.
Mats don't have to be expensive. I practiced for many years on basic sticky mats that cost about $20. Eventually, I treated myself to an upgrade- a lovely blue sustainably made Jade mat that reminds me of the sky and the sea. More expensive, but it will last a long time. Whatever your choice, make your mat your own. Color, texture, thickness… let it suit you.
Of course, the studio keeps plenty of yoga mats on hand for students to borrow as needed and we are more than happy to do so! But I do encourage you, once you find you are committed to a regular yoga practice, to invest in your own.
Wherever we unroll them, our mats become magic carpets that let us fly. Ships that carry us on the waves of our breath. In, out, up, down…. A trusty vessel for our journey.