I first started practicing yoga with consistency during college. It was a class that met twice a week, and i simply used the mats that were provided. They were simple and to the point. No frills.
At home, my mom exercised on a something that resembled a yoga mat, but was impossible to use for yoga. It was really squishy and stretchy. So every time I went home for break and practiced yoga on it, my poses would become more elastic and unpredictable.
During my world trip while I was in India, I decided to buy myself a yoga mat. I bought it at a grocery store in Udaipur, deciding between grey and pink versions. I imagined the pink mat becoming a muddy pink-brown and chose grey for its already-bland look. I brought my new mat back to my room and immediately made myself a bag for it out of scrap fabrics I had bought at a market in New Delhi. The next morning, I celebrated my new mat by bringing it to the rooftop of the building and practiced in the early sunlight. I might have practiced a couple more times but my grey yoga mat was destined for a more humble life for the next month. When I reached Kochi, Kerala, I stayed in an art gallery with cement floors with a bunch of artists. Naturally, I whipped out my mat, set up a mosquito net, and voila, instant bedroom. One thing I learned about myself: I won’t practice yoga if I’m sleeping on my yoga mat. It was as if I thought that the 8 hours of sleep on a yoga mat compensated for the 0 hours of yoga I was practicing.
In any case, that mat went with me to Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Germany, The Netherlands, and back to the USA. It was stuffed and crinkled and shoved around to fit into my backpack and by the time it arrived in the US, it looked like a dead walrus 😦 it was depressing. And it was further diminished by the fact that every morning, when I rolled the mat up after yoga, there would be piles of grey yoga mat pieces scattered around on the floor. If I had committed a crime, you would have found me in an instant from the trail of grey yoga mat pieces I left wherever I went.
Still, I insisted on continuing my relationship with grey yoga mat and took it with me to Chicago where it jealously looked on at my friend’s clean and fancy gaia orange yoga mat. I felt its anger from its corner of the room when I started using my friend’s orange mat. How dare I betray its trust? On a short trip visiting a friend in Madison, Wisconsin, I was at a local “free school” event when I noticed a perfectly good purple yoga mat in the trash can. The trash can had just been emptied so it wasn’t dirty, but I was still furtive about gleaning from the trash. I plucked the mat out, gave it a good look, found no objectionable marks and adopted it. Yes I cleaned it before using it, but I’m telling you, it looked really darn new. Maybe it was new, and someone thought the trash can was a yoga mat holder–who knows?!
Well I used that mat (I had to say goodbye to the grey yoga mat, though it served me well over all of those months…I told my Chicago friend that maybe he could upcycle it to make some flip flops!) for a good 5 months but then it started doing what grey yoga mat was doing. This time it was crying purple pieces.
Then, just last week, as I was walking down telegraph ave. in oakland, I found another lone yoga mat–but this time it was blue–laying on a bush. I was on my way to buy toilet paper, so I told the mat I’d be back. Lo and behold, when I came back, it was still there (okay, yes I know that I wasn’t gone for long at all)! so I adopted it as well! I fear that these yoga mats are all related to each other and so despite the blue mat’s shiny and receptive surface, it will also start to flake on me in the near future. If that happens, it might mean that it’ll be time for me to move on and get a mat that will last me longer than a few months. But for the time being, while I move from city to city, pushing and shoving my mats into spaces they weren’t meant to go into, I’m content with my flaky yoga mats. They have character, these mats. They have wrinkles that show how they’ve traveled, laughed and lived fully. Their pock marks show their no-nonsense personality and I’m proud to journey with them by my side.
So here’s to my yoga mats. They see me every morning when my body is creaky and tight. They’re nomads like me (I guess they don’t really have a choice) and I love ’em! Who knows if the blue one will survive 8 hours of yoga a day during my yoga teacher training, but it won’t hurt to try 😉
What are your yoga mat stories? Let me know in the comments below!