In yoga class, there’s always something to be learned, something to be discovered ON the mat; magnificent somethings that tickle the heart, the soul and then resonate across life’s continuum. And it’s awesome when you actually live one of those somethings even in the most fleeting of moments. Recently, though, I actually learned something FROM my mat.
First, a little backstory: I’m not sure how it started or why, and it could even be some anal-retentive residue left over from childhood, but rolling my mat up as tightly as possible has been a given at the end of class for the past 8 years. So, there I am mildly fighting to get that little end as tight as possible so that the whole roll will be compact when I tuck it away. Mind you, this is right after a beautiful, peaceful savasana; after assimilating the energy of the class in preparation to go peacefully out into the world again. NOPE … roll that mat hard … obla di obla da life goes on braaaaaa!!! Curiously, the bag I was using is much wider than the roll so why the heck did I need to force the mat into a tight roll? (insert stinger here)
Ok, so, I bought a new, thicker, mat and sling a few years ago. Because of its composition, the thickness, and my insistence on that tight roll, one end has always been perpetually and annoyingly curled at the beginning of class. Think: Annette Funicello’s flip (for anyone who remembers that). But, no sweat … pile three blankets on the end and sit on it until class starts to flatten it! Well, that works most of the time. And if it doesn’t, that end is the “back” of my flying carpet so it doesn’t really matter much. And on those occasions when it does get annoying, well, it’s YOGA, dammit. Go with the flow~~ Watch the clouds roll by ~~ It is what it is ~~ Wherever you go, there you are ~~ Aham brahmasmi, baby~~
Well … a few weeks ago, I volunteered to be a practice student for teacher trainees at YogaWorks. Not having the luxury of pre-flattening my mat, both the teacher trainee and I fought a little to quickly flatten the curled edge. There was no time to waste. We ditched my mat and opted for an in-house mat instead. At the end of the session, and in an attempt to maybe fix the curl, I decided to start rolling my mat with the opposite side out (it’s a cool mat; one side taupe and the other black and I’d been rolling it with the taupe side out to match the sling … to match the sling???? hehe … YOGA).
BUT THEN…. and again, I’m not sure exactly when it happened, I think it was after a favorite Flow class with one of my favorite teachers, I started gently rolling my mat. No forcing that little end to get really close so the roll would be really tight; just a gentle roll. Almost as if I let it roll itself. Funny that it still fit nicely in the sling and, oddly, it felt as if there was even some extra wiggle room. “Not. Possible. How could that be? There has to be more space between the layers since it wasn’t tightly rolled so the sling should be tighter,” said the little monkey in my left-brain. But it wasn’t.
NOW here’s the thing…. ONE DAY…. I rolled out my mat and noticed, for the first time, that it was COMPLETELY FLAT. Completely. Flat. Smooth. FLAT. I did a double take … Somehow it even looked longer and softer. And there was NO need for “ironing” it out or working before class…. there was just “BE-fore class” to be enjoyed before class. I let go of the forcing and squeezing and pushing and the mat responded.
Do you know the story of “The Giving Tree?” If not … it’s beautiful and you MUST read it. Well, I have “The Giving Mat.” My mat is there for me every day, no matter what I’m feeling, thinking or doing. And every day that I’m in contact with my mat, I get new opportunities for aha moments; I get new opportunities for picking weeds; I get new opportunities for planting seeds; I get new opportunities for magnificent somethings that inspire continuous evolution and open my heart. On this particular day, I GOT that life and relationship could be much smoother when I’m not gripping and forcing it into a tight roll. Let up … release … create space.
I walked out of class, mat slung over my shoulder, humming 38-Special’s “Hold on Loosely,” my new theme song.
And the mat was happy. ♥