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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Get a Grip ~ But Don't Get Stuck

There are plenty of times when slipping is a good thing, like skating or sledding, sliding or gliding; on a Yoga mat is not one of them.

It never occurred to me that a sticky mat could be anything other than just that.  When I first dipped my big toe in the Yoga waters I rented a mat each time, not knowing if this was a practice that would stick with me the way my hands stuck easily to the rental mat.  

When I began going more regularly, I considered getting my own mat.  Then, my friend who introduced me to Yoga gave me her mat since she had just gotten a new one.  It was a whole new experience.  (I’m the youngest of four, so not only am I used to hand-me-downs, but almost prefer them.)  It was a little worn with the beautiful practice of its former owner, purple, sticky and mine.  I now had my own magic carpet that was going to take me to wondrous places.

Time and practice did its number on this mat that had served me so well; I was ready for a new one.  I ended up sampling a few different brands, hoping one would help me keep my hands from slipping in downward dog.  I did the soap in the shower, small amount of detergent in the washing machine and various mat wash sprays.  Nothing seemed to work.  Was it me?  Was I secreting some mysterious mat-resistant sweat that was neutralizing any sticky mat-tributes?  I was even sold on a type of mat that was sure to grip me back.  It seemed to work for everyone else, but I was consistent in my slippage.  I found myself missing that old, worn, fraying mat so I dug it out.  I haven’t taken it to a class yet, feeling strangely uneasy about its state of disrepair.  

Looking at this mat so full of history, I was struck by a memory that made me laugh.  

My childhood dream of being an actress led me to some really fun experiences including a pre-college theatre program at Carnegie-Mellon.  The program had a dance part that required the proper shoes and other various dance-related clothing & items.  My mom had taken me to the Capezio store to prepare for this program.  The dance audition room was packed with a most diverse group of people.  The line I will draw here is very broad and does not in any way describe the nature of the individuals, capture the sights, sounds or smells of that room, but it does tell a story.

The kids like me, for whom dance was not our primary reason for being there, were all adorned with shiny new shoes and perfectly woven leg warmers (it was the 80s).  We were chatting and getting to know each other, while those wrapped in dance-worn clothing, with no new-car smell left, were stretching and smiling with quiet confidence.  I imagine you can guess which group was relegated to the introductory class and which to the advanced.

Perhaps it’s not the state of disrepair that embarasses me about my mat, but the implication that perhaps I’ve moved groups.  I’ve always been more comfortable in my beginner’s mind, keeping daily goals within reach and my mind humble.  Unlike my many mats, I can easily get stuck in novice mind.  Considering the fact that more than a decade has passed since I got my Yoga feet wet knocks me happily off balance.  There are still so many poses I cannot yet express fully, but my worn out mat tells my story in a way I also cannot yet fully express.

On my quest for a mat to stick with me on my Yoga journey, I must also get a grip; to stick enough not to slide and to grip enough not to hold on too tight.

1 comment:

  1. Thought-provoking. Like all forms of moving Zen, hard to learn when to focus and when to let go with "no-mind."