When I was leading yoga classes on my college campus, I got tired of lugging around my yoga mat when there wasn’t enough time to drop it back off in my dorm before heading to class. It was also difficult storing it under my desk because I was worried it was going to make me or someone else trip.
So, one day I just left it in my room. I never thought I’d leave it in there the rest of the semester.
I still have a mat. I like them, especially when I’m working on Headstands or am sitting on my knees. But for the most part, the mat is rolled up in the corner of the room, mostly acting as a reminder to bring my awareness back to my breath, even when I’m not practicing yoga and I’m doing the dishes.
Yoga Without a Mat
The first class I led without my mat, I noticed that I was traveling a lot around the room as I demonstrated the poses. I let my energy shift around and soon I was dancing around the front of the room and among the students, smiling, laughing, and letting my body take me wherever it wanted to go.
During my home practice, I will sometimes take up all the space in the house, flowing through different rooms and taking a moment to throw a toy to the dog between breaths.
The mat always seemed like a box to me, only giving me so much room to work with. I felt like I was doing something wrong if my toe stepped off it, and I had to worry about being in a specific spot for specific poses because it was sloppy to be at the rear when you needed to step back for a Low Lunge.
Without a mat, there is nothing left to confine me or my flow.
Changing My Perspective
By giving myself the freedom to move without barriers, I could then move back onto the mat with a better understanding of what yoga meant to me. When I took a class and unrolled my mat alongside everyone else’s, I no longer saw it as a cage.
Instead, I saw the yoga mats to be like place settings at a dinner table, calling us all to join in.
When I left my mat behind that fateful day before class, I was angry with it for encroaching on my needs and for dampening my style, when it was both rolled out and rolled up.
I felt attacked by it, which, upon reflection, pointed out to me that there was something more going on with me. I felt that the mat was holding me back but, honestly, I was the one who wasn’t giving myself permission to move freely.
Even without the mat, it took me some time to feel comfortable moving around my students and dancing around my living room. It took me time to erase the idea that yoga had to be strict and silent.
Once I pushed beyond what I thought I knew, I really learned what my practice could be and I could fly both on and off the mat. The key is to be open to the possibilities and not let anything hold you back, not yourself and not a mat.
By: Stacy Porter Stacy has a degree in international studies and is a proud member of the Romance Writers of America. Along with her Jack Russell Terrier, fondly called The Yoga Interrupter, she makes videos to inspire others to start living their dreams. Check out her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
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