Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Don't Mess with the Mat...

I had my YIP class on Saturday. Lovely weather (I challenged the gray skies and they turned to blue...yoga power), devoted students; a delightful practice, all in all. As I was setting up--which involved picking up a few cigarette butts, tossing out a beer can and unrolling my mat--a couple was letting their dog chase a few ducks and take a swim. The woman looked over, saw my mat, and gathered her crew, "Oh look, I'm sure the ladies don't want to watch you and a wet dog while they do yoga." They hustled off.

Boy, I thought, yoga has arrived in Beloit, Wisconsin, if all you need to do is unroll a mat and your intention is immediately recognized. No asana, no chanting, not even students at that point, just sitting cross-legged on a mat in the grass and I might as well be unfurling a giant Om banner.

The ultimate yoga icon: The Mat.

More than Vrksasana or namaste or stretchy white chicks...when people see The Mat, they think of yoga. It delineates your individual space in a crowded class (don't step on any one else's!); its ritual unrolling symbolizes the beginning of practice. The colors and pattern represent your personality--soothing lilac, tropical hibiscus, punchy orange. Its material indicates your politics--eco-friendly, thrify, hedonist. Its carrying case a testament your craft cred(how many knitting patterns are out there for a mat bag?), or busy schedule (peeking out of your bulging backpack like a Frenchman's baguette).

[Maybe that's part of why the free mats at NYC's Yoga on the Great Lawn event were such an affront: crass advertising on that most sacred of rectangles! Treating The Mat like a stupid koozie or bumper sticker or ugly ball cap...the nerve!]

Of course, I kid. But as I mulled over the implications of this floppy piece of cushioning, I came to see it as truly symbolic of one's own practice. Your are your Mat, so to speak. Which begs the question...what if you don't use a mat? Purist? Cheap? Have a carpeted living room? Again, it's a sort of
psychological yoga test.

What does your mat say about you...?

13 comments:

Linda-Sama said...

the Original Eco yoga mat....http://www.barefootyoga.com/Detail.bok?no=558

'nuff said....;)

Rachel @ Suburban Yogini said...

My mat says that I like pink accessories and I hold onto thing way beyong their usefulness...

nadinefawell.net said...

I have more than one mat. More than two. Um, yeah. But that's because some of them are for my STUDIO.
The one I teach on there is purple and is one of those fancy new ones from lululemon (which they gave me free, bless them). Mainly what it says about me is, 'She has a greasy forehead and I am going to show that to the world.'
It marks the way no other mat does. Ick.

Jodi said...

Hmmm, good question. My mat says I love pink, and I sweat a lot so it must be very sticky. Its torn up so it shows that I love things I am used to and don't just throw them out when they get old.

Great post!

jamieonthemat said...

Mine says "cheap". I have never bought myself a mat. I got my first one for Christmas from my mother and my current one at my first yoga training. So I don't really consider it self-expression, since I didn't pick out the color, size, material, brand, etc. I consider it more a vehicle to get where I want to go.

Brenda P. said...

Hilarious. Mine (3-dark blue, turquoise, purple) also say cheapo! One is an Xmas present to husb. I snagged back, one ancient one came with my first set of props, the other I picked up in desperation at Target. I tend to use them in combination, cuz I like the squish factor.

But, I tell ya, I like no mat when I'm outside or on a wood floor. I like to feel the earth under my feet!

Anonymous said...

The nice thing about free mats with advertising on them, is the adverts are on one side and you can turn them over.

-anon

heather said...

My mat says that its owner is too lazy to give it the good scrubbing it so desperately needs. It used to be pretty shades of light green, until I used a black YogiToes towel on top of it.

Anahita said...

My mat says ... you need to clean me way more often. By the way, any recommendations on mat cleaners? I just use water and a towel but I've def seen "Yoga mat cleaners" at whole foods (seems it's water, peroxide and a mix of other things)... I kind of figured it wasn't worth, um, 10 dollars.

Actually, my mat is probably saying at the moment: "Get me out, get me out!" It's right now folded up and squished in my suitcase...waiting to be flipped out in my friend's apt in Boston this evening :)

YogaforCynics said...

Until recently, I had a mat bought for I think around twenty bucks at a Wegman's supermarket in Rochester NY in 2001...which might have said I wasn't all that serious about yoga...which would be correct, at first, since I didn't keep practicing for long. When I started again seriously, three years ago, however, I decided to keep using that mat, because it seemed wasteful to get another one when the one I had basically did the job...which, I guess says something about either how eco-conscious I am or how cheap I am. Then, however, it started falling apart, and I got my new $60 black Jade yoga mat picked out mostly because it's the only one I could find that's longer than I am (I'm 6'1--i.e. 73', and it's 74'). So, I guess, it says I'm more serious, but mostly that I'm tall.

Emma said...

mat says, "sentimental."

had it for years.

Eco Yogini said...

i heart my new prana mat very much- but my YITP mat is also nice. :)

I clean my mat with water and vinegar :) works just fine!

my mat says: "Lisa loves the environment" :)

charlotte bell said...

I have several mats: a Hugger Mugger Earth Elements mat that I take to classes and Hugger Mugger Mandara and Terra mat that I use at home. My mats say, "I have cats," as there are claw marks in all of them, but they still work just fine.