After many years of practicing on my sticky mat, I became quite attached to it. Literally.
One of the great advantages of using a sticky mat during our asana practice is the traction it provides. Isn’t it wonderful to come into down dog and press the hands and feet away, using that connection to the mat as leverage so we can press into a great stretch? Isn’t it great to know that in a wide legged forward fold, trikonasana or Warrior 2, our feet are firmly in place and we don’t have to worry about them sliding out from under us?
Back in 2004, during my 200-hour training, one of the directors of the program challenged us to set our sticky mats aside and practice on a blanket. This new surface, with much less traction, completely changed my practice. The muscles of the core – adductors, obliques, glutes, abdominals – became activated much more intensely. On the level of the subtle, energetic body – samana vayu – that sense of energy drawing inward to provide stability, became essential and was front and center as part of my awareness. The rug is a stern teacher and doesn’t let me get away with being lazy.
So now I have both my sticky mat and my rug as part of my practice. What I choose varies from day to day, with how I feel and where I want to focus my practice. Some will talk about how the yoga rug is better than a sticky mat because the material is more natural, and it’s closer to the way yoga has been practiced for centuries. Honestly, this strikes me as elitist and casts a judgment that you’re a better yogi if you use a rug.
Don’t use a yoga rug because it’s better or fits some notion of being more authentic. Give a yoga rug a try and see how it feels. Take time to discern whether or not it adds something to your practice. Let that be the determiner of whether your practice includes a sticky mat, yoga rug, or both. There’s no right or wrong here. It’s all just part of the exploration. Enjoy it!
Here is a picture of my beloved yoga rug, patiently waiting for me to get my butt in gear. I can’t say much about it, other than I bought it at Kripalu, in their shop, it’s 100% cotton and made in India. There are many to be found for purchase in the ever growing world of yoga accessories. I’ve grown quite attached to it, though much less so than my sticky mat. The stern teacher just won’t allow it.

Share →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *