So. To have or not to have your very own Yoga mat - that is ONE of the questions! And then, if yes (& umm, it should be a resounding YES YES YES), what kind, what make, what material, what length...
This subject came up in one class together last week & we had a funny post-class lil Yoga mat chat, measuring & comparison session.
It’s the holy grail (just about!) for all Yoga lovers & practitioners; actually getting on our Yoga mat at home & doing some personal practice.
We all have a myriad of reasons/excuses for NOT doing it; some are valid; some are not. Just like with getting out & exercising & eating well, we all know the real obstacles & self-induced obstinacies that prevent us from doing what we know in our bones would do us the power of good.
So! Let’s not dwell on the negative stuff; we all have those challenges, both real & not real, & we know, individually & collectively, what they are.
What would HELP us get on our mats?
First is, well, doh, actually having our own Yoga mat! Sounds blindingly obvious yes...
Invest in a new or good-condition supportive ‘sticky’ Yoga mat. Encyclopaedias could be written on the many kinds, styles, thicknesses, materials, makes & models of Yoga mats.
You can spend hardly anything & still be ripped off as you slide off/around your mat - so try not to overly economise. It kind of breaks my heart when people come to class with their new “Yoga” mat that some either unscrupulous or uninformed shop assistant has sold them & I have to say here ‘use my mat’ as what they've been sold is simply not safe nor suitable.
Anything that you reckon you could say happily camp on, anything that’s overly ‘padded’ or ‘foamy’, shiny or that doesn’t roll up nice & slim & relatively small, well, you’ve likely been ‘had’. Anything that fits this description is usually what’s called a generic ‘fitness’ or ‘exercise’ mat - fine for using with your runners on for a Boxercise, Aerobics or Pilates class but no-way, no-how is it ok for a safe, supportive Yoga practice.
Likewise, you could spend a fortune & not need to or gain any real benefit. So, we don’t need to go mad & spend way too much (for e.g., Liforme Yoga mats are over £100 - that's GBP people...).
Very simply, having a clean & in decent-condition actual ‘sticky’ Yoga mat is enough to be getting started & getting on with. If your mat is currently grubby beyond belief, missing chunks or really is way-way-slippy now (though do remember to check the 'right' side is up before you ditch your current mat!), then it’s not exactly going to be enticing to roll out, step onto & use is it?
My own home practice & class practice (i.e. personal) mats are from Manduka; one is rubber (the one I have in class at the GAA clubhouse, the ekoLite 4mm model) & the other is the ProLite eco-friendly model. These come with a lifetime guarantee. Worth the investment to me personally & environmentally & also, I got mine on sale! I am not affiliated with them - I just value their eco ethos & the quality of their mats & have a personal appreciation for their stateside One Millions Reasons Why campaign 🎀
Check them out: www.manduka.com
You also need to ensure your mat is LONG enough! Even if you think you're not all that tall, we all need plenty of room, especially for Savasana yes ;-) but also, as some of discovered in our partner-work Downward Facing Dog this week in class, to fully lengthen both the legs & arms more than we think. Don't run outta room on your mat!
I still have 3 of the new spare ‘sticky’ mats available for purchase - get in touch if you’re keen.
The usual RRP is £17.00 (which also excludes shipping charge); you can avail of one right now for €15.00 total in person (I get a bulk discount & right now, the GBP/EUR exchange is good).
There are many alternatives out there; regardless, if necessary, do treat yourself to a new Yoga mat, whether from me, Manduka, TKMaxx or whoever/wherever - you’ll be that much likelier to get on it & get going with your home practice.
Second (& pardon the pun) but take a deep breath now & then… Take it SLOW. Make it small. Bite-sized chunks of anything are so much more doable & realistic & achievable. I’ve often fallen into that self-defeating & self-deluding trap of saying to myself
‘oh well, if it’s not 90 minutes of turbo uber intense practice, well then, why bother’?
Sheer & utter balderdash, poppycock, nonsense! Really this is just wolves’-procrastination disguised in sheep-defeatism clothing.
Even 10 minutes (or 5!!!) is BRILLIANT! Seriously, 10 minutes daily of some of your favourite asanas (poses) & breathing practice with say a minute or two in Savasana is SO much better than that ‘Never-Happening Narnia’ 30, 60, 90 minutes of 'Insta-worthy' practice.
You will feel delighted mentally that you actually did it; you will feel physically so much the better for having practiced; & crucially, you will feel so much more positively inclined towards doing it again.
Finally, pick a place. Sounds elementary my dear Yogis & Yoginis but the last thing we need is 5 minutes or more of tidying up, pushing furniture out of the way & the like before we even begin - it’ll just add to that ‘too-hard-basket’ feeling (unless you're fierce perky altogether & see it as a 'warm-up' but remember you'll have to do the post-practice 'replacing' after too... )
Take a good hard, clear-eyed look around your home - where is there space NOW? Use that!
It may be a wide hallway, it may be beside your bed, maybe it’s your shed or garage or your living-room. It doesn’t matter - just make sure it’s safe, that there’s space in full for your mat & for you to extend arms & legs wide & long in all directions.
A bonus is if it’s clutter-free so you don’t feel cramped or hemmed in and you’re not looking at say a pile of un-ironed laundry or paperwork. You really don’t want to have ‘undone task’ type ‘stuff’ literally in your face - nothing surer to wreck your Yoga buzz (if unavoidable, well, try facing the other way!).
Ideally, it would include a clear wall-space you can use for inversions. Wooden floors are great too as too-thick carpeting underneath us, while it might sound super-comfy, is not actually helpful for most Yoga asana practice, especially standing & balancing poses. Likewise, hard tiles are not great either. Having a nice small wooden or wicker basket where you can keep your rolled-up sticky Yoga mat, a blanket & any props you like to use such as straps or blocks keeps the space tidy & also serves as a nice lil visual reminder to ROLL OUT THAT MAT ;-).
Your home practice is a gift to yourself; time-out for you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Try seeing it as an ‘adding-in’ rather than a ‘taking-away’ & see if you can allow rolling out your mat slowly become a daily, doable & devoted act of self-care.
PS - there is a BRAND NEW MORNING class starting up.
From Tuesday May 8th, in the GAA clubhouse at 7:00am, we'll be moving & flowing Hatha-style. This is not going to be a gentle or slow class - we are getting up early to get the body moving, the prana flowing, the breath alive & deep, the blood & lymph pumping & setting ourselves up to be energised for the day ahead!
So, PLEASE SIGN UP ASAP if this is of interest to you - this new class will only go ahead if there are sufficient numbers enrolled by Friday May 4th - that's Friday next week, the long weekend.
Get in touch via e-mail or WhatsAPP asap if you need more info or just simply sign up online.
PPS - REMINDER - NO CLASS SAT MAY 5TH - BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND (HURRAH!!!)