Your yoga mat can be a powerful tool and can provide profound insight to how you move and exist in this world. Over time, your mat can even become a safe haven for you to access the parts of yourself of which you were unaware or afraid.
Here are three ways that your mat, if you give it a chance, can become a powerful reflective tool:
Understand Your Physical Body
Taking up a physical yoga practice can provide anyone with a deeper understanding of his/her body, including strength, flexibility, and balance. It shows us where we’re tight/holding tension and where we feel strongest. Practicing yoga provides a deep awareness of the body and allows us to become more intimate with our physical selves. We can, hopefully, even begin to garner some self love and compassion for our own bodies and what they can do, rather than always being so hard on ourselves.
What You Crave
Do you enjoy fast flows or something more relaxing and restorative? Do you enjoy inversions, backbends, or heart openers? This all provides insight to how to you move through the world and what your body is looking to get from it. Maybe you are an incredibly determined, concentrated person, likely to always intensify your practice? Or perhaps you prefer to quiet your mind and body, and are maybe gravitating towards a yin or more meditative classes. The type of class you crave or attend frequently is a telling sign about what you need from life in general.
Your Emotional Response
Yoga can often get emotional. That’s because our emotions are often stored in our physical bodies, and certain movements can bring up thoughts and feelings. Start by observing your practice: is it frantic and all over the place or still and peaceful? Usually you’ll find that this mirrors life in its current state.
Yoga invites us to peel back these physical layers and tune into the true self, emotions and all. For most of us, this often includes stress, tension, and even trauma. Yoga asks us to allow it to rise to the surface and sit with it. Easier said than done, yes, but observing these thoughts as a bystander helps allow this to happen without pressure. We can then acknowledge all passing thoughts and accept the present moment for what is it. Over time, this will show us what lies beneath the surface of our emotions and will allow us to work through them towards peace and acceptance.