My home is baby pink and it travels in a yellow tube case.
The one thing I love most about yoga, is that I can do it wherever I am in the world. No matter which city or country I’m in, I take my baby pink yoga mat with me. I don’t just take it to make me feel at home—I take it to feel like myself. My mat has swallowed lots of sweat and tears, and is also a place for a divine rest.
My yoga mat travelled with me across the seas, from friend’s houses to work seminars. I have a yellow case covered with cute lotus flowers and when I carry it over my shoulder, I know I will be at my destination soon. The places have changed from crowded and sweaty studios to balconies looking over an endless sea and swaying palm tree. When I do yoga at my home in London, my feet often touch the bookshelf behind me and my face is a bit too close to paper bin in front of me.
All the same, yoga starts and finishes my day.
My mat has travelled with me to Portugal, where I am currently staying for the next couple of weeks. When I woke up the first day, I looked around my room, which was bathed in an early-morning sunlight. I felt deep gratitude with a mix of unidentified feelings—I didn’t know where to start. Then, I took my mat out of the suitcase, and immediately, it felt like I belonged to the place where I woke up.
The simplest reason to drag my mat with me around the globe is to have a ritual.
Without everyday rituals, we might feel we’re floating or not grounded. If I skip days practicing yoga, I can feel the tension piling up in my body. Engaging in this ritual helps me to wake me up in a better mood, and practicing after a stressful day provides the opposite effect of calming me down.
For me, yoga is a ritual similar to having a hot shower in the morning or brushing your teeth before bed time. Without the ritual, you may feel like something is missing. Having said that, not every yoga session is a blissful experience. Sometimes I wake up feeling irritated and my muscles hurt. Sometimes, I get distracted by the noise from the streets, or I’m just not in the mood. My body might feel clumsy and my bones feel too big. Sometimes, I just stay in the child’s pose.
I remember one of those “child’s pose” mornings extremely well.
The night before, I had couple of extra glasses of wine and maybe a shot of tequila. A guy, who I really liked at that time, said he wanted to be just friends. I played it cool and said, “That’s fine, yeah, I want that too.” The next morning I woke up and went over the previous night’s happenings in my mind. I may have even smiled: brave me, brave girl, so independent.
After having a shower I was going to start my day, as usual, with sun salutations. Instead, my body rolled into a child’s pose and stayed there. A wave of grief took over me. I started to shake and my mat filled with salty, bitter tears. There I was on my mat, for hours getting myself together again. I surrendered.
That’s why my mat travels with me.
When I’m remote, I want to do the things I can normally do at home. It’s a way to stay connected with myself. With yoga, my body and mind will slow down at least for 15 minutes a day. Even a couple of short stretches aligned with my breath help me to find balance. The balance to be me, during the good and the bad days.
That’s what I call home.
Author: Sara Kärpänen
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Used with permission from Cecille Photography