The humble yoga mat is a powerful tool which can change your life, and give you access to parts of yourself which you may never have otherwise been aware of.
What you experience and do (or don’t do) on the mat is a direct reflection of how you think about and participate in life. How you approach your mat, what you explore on it, and how you use what you have learnt there influence the core of who you are.
So how can your mat be your mirror? Below are just some of the ways your mat can reflect back important and life changing awareness to you.
1. Your Body Speaks to You.
Your physical practice gives you clear and tangible information about your body; how flexible, strong, or balanced you are, as well as which parts of your body are tight as opposed to those parts which can hyper-extend or flex.
Practicing on the mat gives you deep levels of awareness and allows you to become intimate with all the subtle nuances which make up your individual body.
2. Regular Practice Builds Upon Who You Are.
How many times a week you practice - whether at home or in classes - may indicate your sense of discipline and your ability to create positive habits which add to your life. It may also reflect the level of self care and value you place upon yourself and your health.
3. The Flow of Your Energy is Unique to You.
What you do on the mat also reflects back to us things which give us insight into ourselves. Whether you choose more powerful Yang sequences, Yin poses, challenging poses or a combination of all gives us information about who we are and where we are at.
For example, Yang Vinyasas may indicate that we like to feel strong; Yin poses are introspective and require endurance, while challenging poses require faith and discipline. For me personally, I like to step onto my mat and feel into what I need from moment to moment. I like new experiences and keep things fresh by combining different poses and styles as my energy dictates.
4. Releasing and Transforming Yourself.
Allowing the mind to sink down, and the body and spirit to open up, releases blocked energy and emotion which live within the tissues and organs of the body. While it is a good thing to let go of stagnant or toxic energy for your health and well-being, sometimes emotions and thoughts may arise as a result, which can cause discomfort or distress.
The key here is to stay with these feelings and try to witness them as if you were a spectator looking on. Easier said than done, I know. Keeping the breath full, easy, and deep will help anchor you and keep you grounded while you allow the feelings to come.
These emotions are an opportunity to learn what lies beneath the feeling, and in this way, you can process this energy through the lens of self-love and compassion and release it.
Your mat can be one of the most powerful and transformational tools you will ever engage with. Whether it is being approached for the first time, or worn down to a wafer from constant contact, your mat is your mirror and your gift.
Over to you now: Have you experienced these or other personal transformations and insights as a result of your yoga practice?