Ode To My Yoga Mat

You are always there for me. Rolled out so that I can step onto you. My feet are pushing into you, trying to ground down, finding stability. My hands are spread out and webbed onto your surface. When my forearms are looking for hold, you provide one. After a while I sweat on you, drops and puddles of saltwater accumulate. You stick around you and you don’t leave. Every once in a while you even let me cry, quietly or with a side of sniffles. I can jump on you without you jumping back. I can hold onto you with my hands, even while I walk on them. Sometimes you hold me up by just one foot. Not quite yet with only one hand. Whenever I am not able to go as far as I want or as I used to (yesterday) you are there holding me in the position I am in, in the here and now. When you are getting a bit smelly, I wash you with twists and soap and you aren’t mad at me. I make you go through a whole washing cycle and you’re probably sea sick….you are there the next day. Ready to hold me together or let me fall apart on you again. The more I use you, the more you change in texture, but stay the same in spirit.

Sometimes out in nature you let me take refuge on you, protecting me from the roughness of the rocks around us. When I achieve a new posture or am able to do something I have never done, trying to show off to you, looking for praise, you lay there, indifferent—reminding me to stay humble, and that what is today might not be tomorrow. Sometimes you make me invite Mr. Block, Mrs. Strap, and Ms. Blanket to our play, diplomatically making me accept that sometimes it’s okay to ask for help and take it. Especially if it is right in front of you!

I carry you with me, like a child carries its favorite stuffed animal. We have traveled around the world together. When I stuffed you into the overhead bin you didn’t complain. When I stuffed you on the top shelf of a busy train, you never disappeared. I call you names and used to even hit you, punching you like a bag, and all I did was hurt myself. I used you as extra armor when I first started and now you have become my close friend. You are not scared when I roar like a lion, filling the room around us with expunged toxins. I am sure you feel how much lighter I am. When I’m approaching my truth during meditation or when I’m listening to my inside through pranayama you lay there quietly. The times I can’t take you with me, I miss you terribly. But I know you will be there when I get back. You might change your color, you usually stay the same size, your character grows but you always foster me with a playground to move around in.

On you, I’ve learned how to let myself feel again. Thank you.
I found my spirit. Home.
Ode to you, my mat!

My yoga mat & I in New Mexico

My yoga mat & I in New Mexico

2015 Note – I wrote this article in Santa Fe, New Mexico a while back. After my morning practice I went to hang out at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and was influenced by all the art; the shapes and emotions made me think about my own.  The shapes I have when doing asana, the emotions I have while practicing, and the one thing that holds me up. My yoga mat! Obviously I was also inspired by Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’. It has been previously published at The Global Yogi.

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Sweat, Fatigue & Feelings: A Teacher Training Adventure

I sit high up in the Swiss mountains at 10 p.m., beneath a dark and noisy thunderstorm. The past couple of days have been exceptionally hot for this environment and now the sky is shooting thunderbolts and lightning all around. The picture outside the window is tumultuous: Light and dark, wind-strewn rain, the sound of rolling thunder. This cacophonous light storm reminds me of how my body and mind felt when I was embarking on the Forrest Yoga Foundational Teacher Training adventure.

I had entered the training with openness and left with a football field full of emotions. Ana Forrest eased me into the process. Well… kind of. On the first day, I was excited and curious, on the second day I was dehydrated and tired, and on the third, I felt like I had been there for a month, with the end nowhere in sight. I worked through the icky, dormant emotions we all keep somewhere in our bodies. I was left sweating and freezing on the floor talking myself through asanas in voices I did not know I had. I was left sitting and contemplating my life so that at some point I was rethinking Plato’s Republic—and believe me I would have loved to ask Socrates some questions about that. Still in the midst of other participants, I was alone with my thoughts; I felt them re-group, disappear, and multiply.

It roughly worked like this: Everyday (27 consecutive days!) syncing up with my spirit and redirecting energy to what matters in life during our meditation ceremonies, followed by morning Intensives. In the afternoon we had anatomy and teaching theory with practical adjustments, and at night after homework and reflection I slept like a stone. I cycled myself through a cleansing amount of sweat and grew new skin. I pushed myself to old emotions and new edges. I did all of that and at the end of the training I left feeling emotionally drained, physically exhausted—yet completely light and truthfully happy. My head and my body were in sync, and my mind was all over the place, just like the sky is tonight. Still, it is beautiful to look at the sky; it’s the art of nature and admittedly, the teaching from Ana Forrest and her team takes yoga to an art form.

During the training it rained practically every day – granted it took place in the UK – yet, I cannot help to think that the environment cleansed itself, washing away all the old rusty crap and made us ready for new growth. It seems that the rain of tonight is washing away all the sticky heat from the past couple of days. It makes me think that the thunderstorms inside me after the training were an energetically reorganization of myself. It was time for a yard sale of feelings and mastering the business of ‘letting go’.

These days I feel calm, strong, and connected to my spirit. I have been given the tools to play healthily with my yoga sequencing during class and I have learned to breathe through pain. Since the Forrest training I’ve become a better teacher. Ana Forrest has left her mark in my practice and my mind. Expressing my gratitude to Ana’s life work—the standard of excellence in teaching and in fostering overall health. Thank you, Forrest Yoga!

Forrest Training – Photo by Martina Deltcheva

2015 Note – I wrote this article right after the training in 2012. It has been previously published at The Global Yogi. Today, I am a certified Forrest Yoga Teacher and have been assisting Ana Forrest at her trainings. I am given the opportunity to lead other people through the same training that has strongly influenced my life and my teaching.