My yoga mat is the one place I come to over and over again to see my truest, clearest reflection.
On my mat, I move and flow and breathe and be. I drip tension and long-held self-beliefs onto my mat along with salty sweat and, occasionally, tears.
I inhale through my nose and I’m able to see in focus in a way that even my contacts can’t reproduce. I exhale and I feel my body drain of yesterday’s concerns and trials.
I remember once, years ago, sitting on top of my favorite mountain in the world, in the middle of New Mexico, when my husband studied me thoughtfully and said that I looked completely serene, fully at peace and in love with myself after hiking for days without a mirror to gaze into.
I never forgot that because, really, what am I looking for when I repeatedly check my hair or my profile or my whatever in a mirror? I’m certainly not looking to see what matters most about me, and I’m definitely not finding answers that I can’t find somewhere else (besides maybe if I have blackberry seeds stuck in my teeth from my post-yoga class smoothie).
And I’ve been in yoga classrooms that have mirrors. I don’t prefer them, although I know some practitioners and some styles do.
I don’t need a mirror surrounding my mat because, if the teacher is paying attention, she can help correct my alignment while I focus on feeling my way into the pose. Most importantly, though, I don’t need these mirrors—with their false, sirenic echos—because yoga is not about the way a posture looks.
Yet I can get so caught up in this; so caught up in my knee stacked over my ankle in Warrior I or my hips stacked just so in my Triangle pose. But, really, these little things are only necessary within a range to keep our physical bodies safe, and, then, true yoga happens on my mat when I get out of my anal-retentive mind and I get into the sensations that are rising up from within me.
They sprout up like seeds of wisdom planted years ago that have stoically weathered a drought, finally gifted with rain. My body-image issues, my grief, my anger, my fears—they all rise up and then, like magic, they’re gone. Sure, they might return—and that’s why I keep returning to my mat.
I don’t revisit my mat for long hamstrings or strong biceps—although these are nice perks; rather, I keep reappearing on my purple sticky mat because each morning that I wake up feeling stagnant or tired or sorry for myself, it’s an opportunity to feel where I’m at within my current life and self, and then to release it.
So, thank you, beauty-reflecting, magic-mirrored yoga mat.
Thank you for bringing self-love up from within the confines of my caged human heart.
Thank you, too, for sharing with me a secret that many other yogis come to also discover: that my magic yoga mat reflects my deepest truths, in all their forms—ugly, scarred, hurt, gorgeous, transcendental—my mat is the place where I can see myself most clearly.
And thank you, most of all, mirrored yoga mat, for helping me fully love and embrace what I see reflected back.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman