I see you in the subway, on the street, hurriedly feeding your meter before class or strolling back to your car afterwards.
You with your mat poking out of a tote bag or slung with a strap over your shoulder. I recognize you with the comfort and welcome I feel when I meet another American abroad.
Your mat, like a compass or metal detector, allows you to navigate a land where you may not fully feel at home. With the force of breath, strength of intuition and assuredness of step you cultivate on this rectangular mass of plastics and glues, you cannot be lost.
You are my brothers and sisters in yoga. I may not be in full regalia now, so you may not see me, but I can see you.
You, who wants to make the world a better place by first finding peace of mind within yourself. You, who works on your physical flexibility so that your emotional flexibility might follow suit. You, who improves. You, who seeks. You, who radiates, and shines, and keeps shining.
You might practice in a studio in the basement, or on the second floor of a strip mall and your journey to tranquility begins as soon as you’re in that narrow stair corridor. Maybe your space is right off of a busy street, where you can watch passersby through the lobby window, hustling on with their lives. Maybe there’s a spot in your backyard, or next to a lake.
Wherever this place is, you shuttle yourself there and back, day to day, week to week, because when you consider the way you feel after a session–how could you not return?
And maybe you are someone who carries your yoga mat like it was a designer necklace or a new hairdo.
Maybe you only do yoga because you like the way your butt looks in tights, you want to slim down for the summer or because there’s that person in the front row you’ve been stalking and dying to talk to.
And that’s okay, because you are my brothers and sisters too. “Namaste” still applies to you, even though you may not say it, or you might skip over the “om” because it makes you feel uncomfortable. Namaste simply means that I see goodness in you, and I bow to that goodness. You may have another way of seeking the truth. This doesn’t necessarily need to be the path you take, as long as you’re bettering yourself.
But me? This is my path.
I salute the sun for its generosity, I root down through the earth to get grounded, I balance on my hands to practice discipline and I breathe to connect with my life force. Because there’s a force within me, and a force within you, and all we have to do is breathe to awaken it.
My mat is not just an accessory. It represents strength and fluidity. Oneness, love and tolerance. Expansion of possibility. It is way more than the sum of its materials.
But—at the same time—my mat is just an accessory.
It is a conduit for my practice, and not a necessity. Sometimes, it helps to have my mat and a quiet, sacred space. But all the capabilities for mindful action already lay within me. Just as they lay within you. Here, in this moment, wherever you might be, sitting and reading this.
Take a deep breath, and come into yourself.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Lauryn DeGrado / Editor: Travis May