It is an interesting relationship: a yogi and his/her mat. My favorite mat is a purple Gaiam mat that has seen better days. Every time I am in Child’s pose the thought enters my mind, “When was the last time I washed this mat? I wonder how much bacteria is being squished into my forehead?” Morbid thoughts for a yogini who is trying to focus on breath and sensation. When I’m feeling a little spunky I use my lime green mat with an off-center light blue stripe. And on the days when I’m in a hurry and God-forbid I have left my mat at home, I reluctantly use the studio supplied mat and say a little prayer that the previous practitioner used disinfectant spray to kill their DNA left on the mat.
My boyfriend has a dark blue mat and in addition uses a $60 Yogi Toe towel to collect sweat and to protect against slippage. In fact, I’ve never seen him practice without the Yogi Toes. I have a girl friend that in addition to her beautiful mat, brings a pretty extensive collection of chakra balancing aromatherapy oils and sprays (you know who you are) and botanical antibacterial wipes to clean her mat when she is done. Now I’m not ragging on either of these two for bringing so many accessories to their yoga practice. I borrow my boyfriends Yogi Toes anytime I can (I can’t afford to buy my own) and I will take a sprits of chakra balancing spray when it’s available. My point to all of this is that we have commercialized group asana practice and feel that we need these accessories to make our practice complete.
When was the last time you practiced without your mat? Ever? I find myself practicing without one as I walk around a class while teaching and spontaneously show a pose next to a student who is having a hard time aligning themselves. But other than that, if my mat is not available I skip my practice.
I wonder what the ancient yogis and yoginis would think if they saw us with all our asana accessories?!?! They would probably just laugh, look at their calluses on their hands, feet, and knees and give thanks for the simplicity of their practice. Maybe this season instead of doing my usual food/alcohol fast, I will go au naturale and practice with just my body!
From my open heart to yours!