I needed a new yoga mat – mine was fraying from years of hot yoga use. Every time I stood up at the end of a flow, my skin and clothing were covered with flecks of purple rubber.
That particular Jade yoga mat came from a discount store. It was a spur of the moment replacement for a blue one of the same style that was on its way to wearing out after a long teacher training program and a few years of teaching. Purple would have never been my first choice, but the color was deep and soothing, and the price was right. It was a risk purchasing a name brand mat from a discount retailer, but fortunately, the mat ended up serving me well. I practiced and taught hundreds of classes using that mat and the sweat droplets – and occasional blood & tears – that were victoriously shed were precious.
My journey into teaching yoga was a bit happenstance, much like finding that purple mat. Although I was active growing up (dance, volleyball, a short stint with basketball), I never appreciated moving my body just for the sake of exercise. Workouts were a necessary evil to train for a specific sport or trick. It wasn’t until after college, grad school and a few extra pounds that I realized that I needed to move my body for health and sanity. When I signed up for a 200-hour yoga teacher training, I had only been practicing yoga for 5 months, and only once per week. I certainly wasn’t a die-hard yogi. But, I saw a glimpse of something in yoga that could compliment my life in the future. So, I invested much of my savings and 200 hours of my summer into a risk that I felt would yield a great reward. I also bought my first “real” yoga mat online, based on the recommendation of exactly one person. It was risky, but I felt confident that my choice in a yoga mat was the right one.
While this is not a sponsored post in the slightest, I must say that I have loved using Jade mats. For the flowing yoga I practice, Jade mats provide the perfect amount of traction and texture to keep me secure and stable. The only downside to the company is that they are frequently out of stock of many of their mats. Last fall, my purple mat was about to give out so I started searching for a replacement. Unfortunately there were so few options in stock and I really wanted to choose a color that resonated with my soul. Just kidding. But I did want a color that stimulated me positively. When you’re in downward facing dog for a long time, you don’t want to be looking at something that makes you recoil in response. The mat I finally settled on was saffron yellow, but the anticipated restock date was the middle of March. So I decided to hold out for the color I wanted and order when I got a restock notification.
Unfortunately in the meantime, the coronavirus inserted itself into the local economy, and the studio where I completed my teacher training, and where I had been teaching for almost four years, made the extremely difficult decision to close permanently. The students were my friends, my bosses were my family and I wasn’t looking for any other location to teach – to say the news was heartbreaking is an understatement.
But, you know what came in the mail the next day? My brand new, saffron yellow, Jade yoga mat.
The irony of the timing did sting, but it also prompted me to reflect on my journey with yoga. The fraying of a mat doesn’t signify the end of a practice and the closing of a studio doesn’t signify the end of a career. I still live in and near the beautiful community of yoga-lovers. Our paths may just need to cross in slightly different directions.
The past few months have caused a whirlwind of emotions and difficulties in my life, as I’m sure they have in yours. One of the things that has been constant is my ability to unroll a yoga mat (old or new), breathe deeply into my body, and find a moment of gratitude for all that has happened and for all that is to come.