About five years ago I bought a really lovely yoga biodegradable yoga mat. I was so excited to upgrade to a less toxic mat. After about one and a half years of consistent use, both indoors and out, my biodegradable mat started to biodegrade. I guess I should have seen that coming. I loved practicing yoga at Red Rocks in Colorado or in a grassy field at a park on this mat. First it was just a little stretch here, or a little chunk missing over there. Then one day, actually on a road trip/move to Seattle with my sweetie, I was doing yoga in the desert and my little mat bit the dust. Ever since then I have been mat free…
Just kidding, I actually do use a mat at studios and gyms. But I am not really attached to “my yoga mat.” I also love practicing in peculiar spots, like on bicycles. Indoors the yoga mat provides a safe space to explore and stay put in standing poses. Outdoors though, I love the feeling grass below my feet and hands, even if it makes me sneeze!
My relationship with yoga mats has shifted as a teacher, too. When I first started teaching I really loved my my mat. It allowed me a space to feel into my body and then articulate what I felt into cues for my yoga students. While this was a good first step in establishing a vocabulary of cues and sequences, I knew I needed to do more for my students than demonstrate nearly every pose. Slowly I started to step out into the class, spending more time adjusting people and looking at my students. Ever since I have been in awe about how much I can learn from my class from really paying attention to other bodies. Getting off the mat enabled me to be really present and aware of who showed up and how each person was feeling.
When we step just outside of our comfort zone our awareness and presence increases. We feel the newness of each moment and sensation in each fingertip and toe. This Sunday practice letting go of your mat at my free yoga + bike ride!
***Also, I do still love biodegradable mats. But now I have a mat from a yard sale and I don’t think it will be breaking down any time soon.