Right now, I have a bright orange Jade Yoga mat. It’s not slippery, smelly, or heavy. It’s durable, made of natural rubber, and was reasonably priced. All of these things are nice, but they’re not why I love my mat so much. Here are the reasons I do…
When I unroll my mat, it doesn’t stare me up and down. It doesn’t tell me I shouldn’t have eaten a cookie before practice or that I shouldn’t have stayed up late the night before watching old seasons of 30 Rock. When I step on my mat, it doesn’t care if I’m an emotional wreck or totally composed. It doesn’t care that I overreacted during a conversation with whoever and it doesn’t tell me I could have done a better job with A, B, or C. My mat doesn’t make me feel guilty for not doing the dishes that have been “soaking” in the sink for 3 days, nor does it get on my case about meditating for 10 minutes instead of 20.
My mat doesn’t judge when I reach for the bolster and call a 30 minute restorative supta baddha konasana my practice, nor does it roll it’s non-existent eyes at me when I push myself a little too hard. It doesn’t even give me the stink eye from the corner of the room when it’s been sitting there, untouched, for a few days in a row. It doesn’t give me a standing ovation when I practice consistently, everyday, and finally get into an asana I’ve been working on for months. My mat is neutral, there, available, and ready to support me in whatever practice I need.
You know what I love about my mat and everything it stands for? It meets me where I’m at. It’s love and acceptance is unyielding. The more frequently I step on my mat, the more able I am to enter that same place of equanimity and love; for the yoga practice and for myself.
Life isn’t linear and usually doesn’t flow within the lines of whatever plan you’ve devised for yourself. The yoga practice is similar. Some days you feel light, airy, flexible, and open to an ocean of greater consciousness. Some days the body feels like a bag of bricks, muscles are tight, the mind is whirling, and things feel clumsy. The mat doesn’t care if you fall out of tree pose or if your face isn’t smushed into your legs during paschimottanasana. The mat simply encourages you to practice yoga– and yoga encourages you to deeply self-examine and in the midst of that investigation, to fall in love with your Self.