No, we don’t. And sometimes I even prefer to practice without. So is it just good Marketing that we’re purchasing them and even need more than one? Nope, a mat has a lot of benefits (please do yourself a favor an get a proper one – yes they are expensive but worth it, depending on your requirements).
The most important reason is to protect us from injury. Wow, a mat ca do this? Absolutely, let me give you an example: I’ve got slightly sweaty hands and those who share this with me know what I’m talking about. Slipping on a mat can be quite dangerous, plus it keeps my mind busy to take care about a proper and safe stand instead of releasing in a posture.
Of course it’s also a welcome support for the knees and all those parts touching the ground. Honestly I also don’t want to know what’s going on there on the floor, such things as when it has been cleaned last time…. Just get my mat down and everything is fine. Well, don’t forget to clean your mat regularly!
There’s another aspect not to be underestimated: ‘my mat is my home’. A symbolical representation of the place, which makes your mind, body, heart and soul healthy and also in union. Where ever you place your mat, you’re home. It’s your safe place. A synonym for your practice. Untouchable for others, disrespectful to walk on a mat that is not yours. Even when I teach, I try to not touch the mats of my students, which is unfortunately not always possible when doing adjustments, however, I respect this as a very personal place.
Regardless of all the pros using a mat, go without from time to time. We should not be attached to it, as attachment is rather about holding and clinging, while we try to practice the art of letting go in yoga. It’s all a matter of a healthy balance – appreciate your mat, without becoming hooked on it.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the Yamas and Niyamas. The ethical and spiritual observances that should help us develop the more profound qualities of our humanity. They represent a series of “right living“, kind of rules or guidelines within Hinduism and Yoga. They were first detailed in the Upanishads and then Patanjali describes them his Yoga Sutras some years later.
One of the Yamas is Aparigraha. Which means nonpossessiveness, detachment.
On the mat it could be translated into „let go“. Let go of expectations. Let go of your desperate desire to master a certain posture. We’ve got the tendency to „hold“, particularly when it gets challenging. Either active, when it’s about holding the breath. Or more passive, when it’s about holding any emotions that manifest into tension and stiffness. When practicing asanas, try to not just push and stretch, but be aware of what’s going on in your body AND in your mind. Release and let go of what you are afraid of. Be careful and easy with yourself. Let it flow and follow your breath! Our hips are well known as a storage for emotions. So hip opening postures are quite useful, practicing with the appropriate intention and breath.
Off the mat, it’s also about letting go of your attachments. On a rather material level, think about cleaning out the clutter by getting rid of all the things you don’t need anymore. Make room! Get rid of any weight! In your relationships, it might be about forgiving others and with this, free yourself from resentment. If there’s anything dragging you down, ask yourself „is it really about me?“, I beg it’s not.
Make happiness your attitude. Life on and off the mat is so much easier and effortless when you’ve found YOUR happiness within yourself. Independent of any possession, independent from anybody’s mood or even appreciation.
Read more about it in my happiness post on my other blog love.breathe.shine.
Practice Aparigraha and keep on rocking your happiness yogis!