The mat that I carry to my yoga class each week is falling apart.
It was my wife’s mat originally. She bought it when she started taking classes, and then found a thicker, sturdier mat when she became serious about yoga.
Using her old mat, I feel close to her when I practice, even if she’s not beside me.
I take it to class even though it’s a pale purple, the color of lilacs, because it’s lighter and smaller than the mat that I use for my home practice.
I know that I could trade it in and get a new mat, a mat of a different color, but I hold onto it, as if the mat itself holds much of what I’ve learned from my practice over the past decade–insights gained from various poses; banished fears and anxieties; restored hopes and faith.
The mat is almost ten years old, with pockmarks and divots up and down its length, and each time I draw my foot back going from Lunge to Plank, I notice how its rubber surface wears away a little more, and yet the sight of it beneath my feet gives me a sense of peace and security.
Its erosion reminds me of the passage of time, the spilling of sand in an hourglass, the moments that I’ve spent on it learning something new, moments that I treasure even as they melt into the past, replaced by new moments.
The mat is so pliable that the rubber holds the imprint of each toe, as well as the heel of each foot, for a few seconds after I move out of one pose into another. It’s almost like magic the way I move my foot yet can see its imprint remain, evidence that I am here, on the mat, in this body.
Practicing on this mat helps me remember all the years that I’ve spent moving into different poses, and the memories fortify me (like a multivitamin) during class as we practice the poses again.
I know the mat won’t last forever. Every day the lilac color seems to fade, and more and more of its surface erodes away.
If I’ve learned anything while practicing on my mat, it’s that nothing lasts forever.
But I’ve also learned to treasure what we are given in this life for as long as we have it.
So, I’ll keep carrying the mat to class for as long as I can.
I want to feel it beneath my feet and breathe in the scent of its mysteries for as long as possible.
The mat that I carry to class helps me stay rooted in the present, even as it offers me the chance to see where I’ve been and where I might be going.
Practice Journal: Is your mat a prop that you forget about once you begin your practice or does it help you notice where you are and what you’re thinking as you move from pose to pose? Take a few minutes to notice the mat that you carry to class or unfurl at home. Describe the color, the thickness, the way your toes feel when you step on it. Then contrast that feeling with the way it feels to walk across a hardwood floor or along a forest path strewn with pine needles or on a sandy beach. Write: 10 min.