What’s Your Yoga Mat?
“I love your Jade!” a friend commented on my forest green, eco-tree rubber sticky mat after yoga class one day. I had ordered my yoga mat online a few years ago after doing some research into different brands’ materials and company practices.
My mat is a familiar companion and when I roll it out – either on the cork floor of the studio, in the grass at the park, or on my living room rug – my body and mind receive an external signal that it is time to practice asana. Instantly I feel more calm, focused, and intentional about my movements and thoughts. The world gets quiet as I respect the cue from my mat to turn within and connect with the stillness inside.
Montessori students as young as age three learn to use “work rugs” to delineate the space in which they place their learning materials. Children select a rug from the community basket, carry it with two hands, walk to an open space on the floor, kneel to the ground and place the rug down, and roll it out with two hands. Then they select a material from a shelf, carry it with two hands, and set it on the rug, complete the work, then place it back in its spot on the shelf. They return to their rug and roll it up with two hands, carry the rug back to the basket and place it carefully inside. The work rug is a yoga mat for these students – on it they move with intention as they focus on purposeful work. Dr. Maria Montessori knew that teaching children mindfulness in their everyday actions would lead to world peace.
Whether or not we do physical asana postures, whenever we think, speak, and act with intention we are practicing yoga. We are connecting with our true Selves, the infinite wisdom we all share. The purpose of putting our bodies into the postures of asana is so that everything we do will eventually be mindful and a means to connect with that wisdom.
Recently, since I have a four-month-old baby, my sticky mat has spent more time rolled up than rolled out. Rather, my yoga mat has been the line on which I hang my daughter’s diapers out to dry. The feeling I get on laundry day, after each clothespin has been carefully placed and each onesie folded and placed in the basket just-so, curiously and closely resembles the feeling of having had a particularly vigorous asana practice. For my husband, his yoga mat is the white lines and bright green grass of the soccer field. In the focus of interacting with the ball and uniting with his teammates for a common purpose, he feels the connection of that bigger Self.
What is your yoga mat? Perhaps it is the fence over which you speak with your neighbor about swapping vegetables from your garden harvests. Or maybe your mat is the kitchen table where you smile at a sleepy child over breakfast. Is your mat the pedals of the bicycle you ride every day to work? It could be the steps of the synagogue; the dirt in the field; the road to a friend’s house; the key to your front door.
Here is my prayer: that one day, with practice and intention, our yoga mats may simply be our feet, our hands, our lips, and our laughter. And the world will know peace.
Allyse Sonnega is a dedicated yogini, educator, mother, vegan, and overall uplifting human being that provides great service to the world through her peaceful thoughts, words, and actions.