There is an idea in yoga that your mat is considered to be sacred space. At least this was the lesson taught to me by my teacher. Your mat holds your energy or, if you are not a believer of energy bodies, your germs. You should always ask permission before stepping onto someone else's mat. It is the respectful thing to do. We take our shoes off in yoga studios because the studio itself is considered to be sacred. Yoga classes are designed to foster your own personal practice. So we can think of our yoga mats as our personal yoga studios at home. We treat them with respect. As yoga teaches us to be more mindful of our bodies, it teaches us to be more mindful of our surroundings. I am mindful of the heaviness of my mat and and the smooth texture of it under my feet. My mat is my sacred space. That being said, I am also aware of the bubble that's formed in the middle of my mat as the two layers of it has started to pull away from each other. The smooth texture has become slick in places and my hands do not grip as well to the mat as it used despite keeping it clean. My yoga mat has become worn with grooves. You can see the tracks I make from forward fold to plank. You can see my sun salutation path embedded into the mat. I've decided that it's finally time to replace it and will be ordering a new one on Friday.
Though I'm really excited about getting a new yoga mat, I'm a little bit sad to part with my current mat. It doesn't just hold my energy. It also holds memories. I've had that yoga mat for a really long time. In fact, I've held onto it probably longer than I should have. Of all the mats that I've purchased, that brand and style has been my favorite for comfort and grip. I can tell you that was the mat I was on when mom called me about J. I was in pigeon pose when she called that day. It would take me months to get back on that mat after that phone call. Every time I'd step on the mat, I'd expect the phone to ring with tragic news and it would take time to get over that post traumatic stress. It helped me to heal from that incident. It is the mat that saw me through yoga teacher training. That mat holds the triumphs of mastering chaturanga and headstand. It witnessed my first forays into teaching, the thing I always came back to after wandering around the classroom checking on students. And while Chris was in the hospital, it was my moment of peace while I waited for him to come back from this procedure or that. I have laughed on that mat and I have cried on that mat. It has seen me through heartbreak and sorrow. It has been an endless source of joy and empowerment.
It will be nice to step onto a new mat, one that hasn't been flattened and squished down with use. I look forward to a new added cushion from the hard floor and and a mat that holds my hands firmly in place while I'm in down dog. But for now I'll honor this old raggedy mat. This mat that holds so much more than my energy (or my germs). I will honor this sacred space as I begin to break ground on a new sacred space.