By Jenny Park
Every teacher has his or her special mat. One of the many benefits of practicing yoga training is that practitioners need few pieces of equipment. While some classes may use props, the most basic piece of equipment in a yoga class is the mat. Lightweight and small, mats afford a yoga student the luxury to practice pretty much anywhere.
The sticky surface allows a student to perform standing poses (asanas), such as Downward Facing Dog or Warrior II, without worrying about their feet shifting while holding the asana. The stickiness helps a student to place their feet in position and forget about it, allowing them to focus their body awareness on their core or their lower legs.
For seated poses, a mat gives students cushioning against a hard floor. If a class meets in a concrete floor of an office building, there will be little support for a student’s feet or back. This can be extremely wearing on the joints, so the cushioning of a mat is a welcome sensation. For students who suffer from knee problems, a thick mat can help give them relief during kneeling poses. Students with back problems can also benefit from the cushioning the mat affords.
A mat can also help to keep you stay warm during your practice, keeping that energy rooted into your personal space. The heat and energy created by the body during asanas can stay within the body instead of dissipating into the floor thanks to the insulation of a yoga mat. Students who practice Ashtanga or Hot Yoga find that the perspiration they produce during their practice can be absorbed and limited by their mats.
Students can express their individuality with mats. Taller students are able to find mats that suit their longer limbs, while children can choose mats with colorful designs. Some students may choose a blue mat for its calming effect, while another prefers an orange one that will give them energy during their asanas. As students progress, they often find that the mat grows with them and becomes a beloved companion during their practice.
A mat becomes a sacred space for yoga teachers and students. It’s within this defined space that they have the freedom to move and to explore their feelings and sensations. It’s a safe place where they are free from the self-consciousness and judgments that are prevalent in other parts of their life. Many students come to yoga to escape, and the mat creates a border where they can feel safe, at least during the time they spend practicing yoga.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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