My Yoga Mat and Who I Am

You know how you feel after a session on the yoga mat – the adrenaline boost, the warm burn in your muscles, some of which you never knew you had, the peace of mind, and hopefully the kinder, gentler outlook on humanity as you connect with everything around you? Being able to tap into these feelings whenever you need to becomes increasingly important, and having your yoga mat with you wherever you go affords you this freedom.

I fined that the presence of my yoga mat in my car, even if it’s not on the way to the studio, serves as a reminder of the lifestyle I’ve chosen. It’s one that values the positive feelings and connectedness I feel when I’m practicing. If it’s in my home office on the couch, I’m reminded to use it rather than curl up on that couch, to choose activity rather than passivity, to embrace challenge rather than apathy. And that’s just what the mat does when I’m not using it.

When I do roll the yoga mat out, I begin a process of extreme focus, of being present in the moment, on the mat, and nowhere else. The soft, inviting texture of the mat and it’s warm, invigorating color and pattern remind me why I chose this particular mat. It was kind of like choosing clothes – I liked the way it looked, the way it felt, the way I felt when I was using it. In a small way, it was an expression of who I was and who I wanted to be.

As I’ve settled in to my practice, which is still very young, I’ve wondered if my mat still fits. Not in the sense of “does this mat make my butt look big?” but if it’s meeting the needs my evolving practice has brought to the surface. I have a 3mm mat right now, and I’m wondering if a 5mm would be a better fit. Balance isn’t too difficult right now, but the pressure on my body through the mat is luring my focus away at times. Perhaps it’s time for a change.

I’ve had my eye on a mat that’s designed to wick moisture away from the hands and feet, but it’s really thick. Not sure if I want to go that thick, but I do have issues with moisture. But honestly, I’m struggling with the idea of giving up my old mat. There is a connection, however silly and intangible, to the mat that brought me into yoga and has inspired my practice and focus. I remember helping my kids (when they were young) let go of things they had become attached to, so maybe I need someone to tell me it’s ok to let go, too. Maybe a new mat will change my practice for the better, and change me, too.

Yoga mat life is a beautiful life, and the mat is no small part of it. It’s where we begin, connect, challenge, grow, and end. The right yoga mat is essential to help keep our focus inward, then outward. It’s selection is not an unimportant one, as it can play such an understated yet key role in our identities.