My Manduka my love. The story of a yogi and her love affair with her yoga mats…

Today my husband casually said to me “baby, it’s time for a new yoga mat, it stinks”, gulp, I responded “I know” (snivel snivel). I know to some of you this may seem gross or unhygienic but I have been in this last Manduka relationship for 6 years and the one previous for just as long. The Manduka Pro is simply put the cadillac of yoga mats which is why it is worth the extra dough, because it lasts just that long. It has just started to pill a little where my up dog meets my down dog in the roll over of my toes. I’m not really much of a sweater so short of where it drips off my forehead in forward folds and my sweat “angel wings” in Urhdva Danurasana (wheel) I haven’t dirtied it too much more and have lovingly washed with tea tree (2drops) and a little white vinegar over the years. But it’s time for this yoga mat relationship to end, my husband as usual is right.

Every time I let go of a mat I go through a little mini mental montage of where I started with this mat, where both my practice and my life has gone, and how to let it go. You see it’s by no coincidence that whenever it’s time for a new mat it’s when something major in my life is shifting. Perhaps its as cyclical as time, like that great Indigo girls song “Watershed”(insert link) when the lyrics say “every five years I look back on my life and I have a good laugh…” or something magical about how long a Manduka lasts but yet again as I let go of this mat my life is in big flux and transition.

Let me start at the beginning and the first time I had to let go of a my mat. My first Manduka was a gift. It felt like the kind of gift you give to a “real yogi”. A serious mat meant that I was a serious practitioner. On my first mat I practiced my heart out, I even trekked that heavy ass mat to India and back on a back because I felt I couldn’t use just “any” mat for a practice as sacred as those in the mother land. My lower back begrudged my need but my mind said loud and clear in a Backdraft Kurt Russel kind of way (insert clip) “I go, you go!!!” I became a teacher of yoga on this mat, taught my very first class from it’s perch.

This mat moved with me from Portland OR to LA for a brief stint with me. During that time I decided it was time to “clean the mat” and left it out to dry in the hot California sun by my friends pool who had a dog named Kip. Kip was a rescue dog and was some sort of mix between a Corgy (short leg, wide body) and an Austrailian Cattle Dog, which for those of you who don’t know is a herding breed. Often Kip from his deep urge to be of purpose (which I TOTALLY get) would decide to herd objects such as furniture or yup, yoga mats and on the day it was drying in the son Kip decided to“herd” my mat with big teeth bites and tug and pull on my Manduka I get it Kip, it is heavy. Manduka took a licking and kept on ticking, there were a few puncture marks on the mats edges but was totally functional and we had a good laugh about his Manduka struggle. This portion of the story is important for the day I actually “let this Manduka go” and had this relationship stolen from me, YES stolen.

So I had recently returned to a studio I was teaching at in Chicago after having been away for a couple months teaching in Spain. Gasp, I know I didn’t bring my mat… I cheated! The studio I was teaching at in Spain actually PROVIDED Mandukas so you might say I had a “Spanish Lover mat” while I was away. Upon my return I went to take my first jet lagged class at my studio in Chicago and went to find my steady amongst the “teacher mats” storage only to find they had done some spring cleaning and any mats that were not claimed while I aaas away were donated. As I frantically looked for my mat sure that they would have set mine aside knowing that it was a fellow teachers mat there he was rolled into the corner, sighs of relief!!! However as I began to unroll my mat lovingly seeing Kip’s bite marks on the side and my usual hand and foot print remnants I suddenly noticed a name written in white wax marker on the top right hand corner of my mat. NOT my name. Apparently someone had claimed my mat in my absence. Quickly before class began I ran out to the owner ask them about it and although they were initially unaffected but as I began to cry on my “rental mat” in childspose in the beginning of class I think they began to understood this was a really big deal to me. NOW before you go thinking I’m a looney tune try to remember I lugged this mat to India, it was the mat I became a teacher on and I was HEAVILY jet lagged. I would have cried at the drop of a pin.

I began to try to work through my practice on my rental mat feeling like “persona non grata” I went through some serious mental and emotional work. “Aparigraha” came to mind, “non attachment”. At first I blamed myself, perhaps I’d left my mat for too long, did he know I cheated?! By the end of the practice that day I had let it go and was even happy for my mats new owner to have my wonderful mat. Although I secretly took joy that she’ll never know what my mats scars and bite marks meant or where they came from. The next time I came in to teach at my studio there was a brand new Manduka Pro waiting for me with a note from the studio owners apologizing for the mix up. I humbly accepted and thanked them from the bottom of my heart. Shortly after that I stopped teaching there to open my own studio, and so began my new relationship with my new mat in a new adventure.

This is my current mat, the mat relationship that is now time to let go of again. This mat that sat unrolled at the front of the room of my studio for almost 5 years. Where now there are paint smudges from painting day, where I realized I was in love with my now husband, where my own dog who has since past liked to lay in the sun beam from the skylights over head in my studio. This was the mat that I practiced on hours after I found out I was pregnant, and even just the other day when my husband absolutely couldn’t resist me anymore in my down dog during my home practice when we happened to be home alone together on a very very rare occasion. Ok ok, TMI but you get the point. Ones relationship with ones yoga mat can be an eh hem, intimate one.

I taught my last class at my studio on this mat and wept tears of relief and grief having sold the studio to make more time for my family, private yoga teaching, and writing projects. So yet again it comes as no surprise that ironically it is time for a new mat in addition to all my life changes. And so I will lovingly practice tomorrow morning on this mat one last time and I will start my third relationship with yet another Manduka, and perhaps I may even go a little “lighter” feeling less bound these days. Perhaps my lesson of non-attachment isn’t fully complete yet because I’m a Manduka or BUST kind of girl. Or maybe I’m loyal to a fault, but my practice of knowing what I want, going for it, letting go of things when they’ve served their purpose and trying to step into the new skin and cast off the old feels fantastic, fresh and alive! When my new Manduka comes I think I will begin my first practice with a theme of gratitude, as I often do but more specifically I will say, thank you Manduka #1 and Manduka #2 and to my Manduka #3 under my feet, this is the beginning of another beautiful relationship. Thanks Manduka for always being my touch stone mat to my life through my practice.

With love,

Margo Kellison-Lightburn

margoyoga.com