Yoga, often private and deeply personal,
is a practice you can only share with others to a limited extent. They may share a room, teacher or oxygen with you but they cannot walk around inside your head or feel what you are experiencing from your perspective and inside your body. It’s just you and you. Your personal life, workplace politics, relationship tugs and the children’s lunchboxes are all dumped outside the door, not permitted into this sacred space. There is, however, one individual who shares the class with you, who lays themselves beneath your feet to mark and protect your space – an honest, accepting, compassionate friend. This comrade is your mat.
The mat helps us to focus on the here and now, in this patch of earth-space that you are occupying. Like a soldier or an arctic explorer, once we perform the ritual of unrolling the mat, flinging and spreading it outwards and laying it down we have marked our territory – this is where I am, me and my story, my journey and adventures, the joy and the mess, regrets and hopes, here and now, right this red-hot minute, inhabiting this 2×6 feet of floor. Then we may lay, kneel, sit, stand or levitate over it as we arrive to ourselves and to our practice.
The mat embodies the magical qualities of an Aladdin’s carpet, transporting us to the vast space where we come face to face with what Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness in Medicine Center, refers to as the ‘inner landscape’. We do not have to like what we find, we may be uncomfortable or resistant or we may be peaceful and content. On the mat, we are where we are and we are safe. Once you arrive on the mat, allow it to gently hold, support and nurture you and you may sense it’s ‘soothing speak’ before the practice begins. Its tone is always loving and non-judgemental. Its subject matter is constantly kind.
What the mat may tell you:
- 1. You are whole and perfect just as you are.
- 2. I love your little appendix scar.
- 3. You matter.
- 4. You are so loved and loving.
- 5. It’s okay, no matter what it is, it’s all okay.
Treat your mat like a dear, old friend who shares your innermost dreams and fears and like a dear, old friend it will always be there for you.
Yogasync Me! A great way to bond with your mat is by sharing as much skin as possible. Always end your practice with a relaxation, allowing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of it to integrate in to your being.