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Elle Garfield, LMSW

Your Own Yoga Mat

Jean (not her real name) lost her husband suddenly when he died in a car crash only minutes from their home.  With two small children and a mortgage to pay off, Jean needed to get back to working full time only two weeks after the funeral. Friends and family were in awe of how much calm and grace she displayed in the face of the grief and loss she felt on a daily basis. When asked how she was coping with the grief and the additional stress in her life she thought of her yoga/breath practice. Every morning, in the quiet moments she had before her children woke up Jean would roll out her yoga mat and come into child’s pose where she would begin to sob until it was time to get ready for work. The safety she felt within the boundaries of the mat allowed her to be with those uncomfortable feelings so she could allow her grief, even if only for a short time daily. Eventually her practice shifted and changed allowing her to tap into an underlying stream of joy. Even when the circumstances of her life didn’t allow her feelings her yoga mat did.

A yoga mat is a rectangular piece of material that provides cushioning and traction ideal for the movement possible in practicing yoga postures.  Symbolically, a yoga mat holds boundaries for a safe practice. It creates space for us to allow ourselves to make the time to take care of ourselves and gives us what we need in the moment.  In order to enjoy the many benefits of a simple yoga/breath practice you don’t need anything but the willingness to start. However, having your own yoga mat reflects your commitment to a consistent practice. When you purchase a yoga mat you are in effect saying I want to continue to practice, to give myself this gift.

If you’re still on the fence about making the commitment to buy a yoga mat you’re not alone. Many people have scary ideas about what is required of them to practice yoga. They may have seen a picture of someone in a pose and thought, “my body won’t/can’t do that!” Or they may have an injury and are afraid they will get hurt again. What I have found with my yoga students and clients is that yoga is really for every body.

Yoga doesn’t require any special skills or even a flexible, fit body. Although you will increase your flexibility, open your mind and become less judgmental.  The top priority in yoga is compassionate presence and the ability to breathe. If you are reading this you are able to practice yoga. That doesn’t mean you will be able to do every pose or maybe even any poses. Poses are only one part of what yoga truly is.

Once you have made a decision to purchase a yoga mat, you should consider quality, comfort and cost. Your yoga mat should be of good quality so that it can last. Yoga is a life long practice and you are never too old to practice.

In order to feel safe and feel the full benefit of your practice you need to be comfortable. If you have issues with your knees especially, you may need a thicker mat for more cushion. Also if you are tall consider buying a longer than average mat. Every body is different, find a mat that fits you.

You may be more comfortable with a mat that is lightweight so that you can easily carry it to class or travel with it. Your mat should be sticky so that you don’t slip and can securely move from posture to posture.

Yoga mats generally are made from rubber, plant fibers or plastics. Consider what material you are most comfortable with for you and the planet.  

The cost of a good mat ranges from $25 to over $100.  Yoga mats are easy to find. You can buy them at drugstores, sporting goods stores, yoga studios and online.

Our bodies house our emotions and our spirit. A consistent yoga/breath practice can help us take care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually. When we step onto our yoga mat, we begin to create a home that is safe and accepting so we can let go of all the stress, tap into the joy and begin to thrive.  It’s easy to find a quality, comfortable and affordable yoga mat. The hard part is making the commitment to practice consistently. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and get all the encouragement and support you need to follow through so you can begin enjoying the benefits.

Now you are ready to choose your yoga mat and feel good about your commitment to taking care of yourself, both body and soul, through a consistent yoga/breath practice.

Contact information:

Elle Garfield, ACSW
Awareness Counseling
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