+27 78 514 4374 hannaspostbox@gmail.com

Taking Stress and Competition off the Yoga Mat

Whenever I come onto my mat, into my practice, it’s like going on a journey. A journey through body, mind, heart and breath-connection; a journey of presence and body-enjoyment. The yoga mat is my magic carpet and offers journeys of various ways, paces, depth and levels.

Not only do I travel on it, it is also my travel companion. My mat is always with me. Yoga, in its various forms, has been a part of my life for almost 20 years. Wherever I roll out my mat, it feels like some part of ‘home’ is there with me. I’ve done my yoga practice in trailers, tents, outside and currently in a caravan (if it’s too wet to be outside).

Where does the magic carpet take me?

This partly has to do with how far I wish to go. The journey that happens on the mat can take me to many different places on the ‘worldwide yoga menu’ — from slow, to fast, to hot, to quiet. It can also take me deep into my body, if I want to go there. Diving into the landscape inside my skin, perhaps sensing my bones and cells, as I move through postures. Filling the body out from within, with my own awareness.

Between yogic sleep (yoga nidra) and a fast paced yang practice is a whole landscape of possibilities on my mat.

What is it going to be today?

Part of the magic of my mat is that it is a place where I am kind to myself. Yay, I like that.

It has taken me a while to get there, freeing myself from some kind of ‘achievement spell’ when on my yoga mat — constantly something more to aim for. Now, when I step onto my mat, there is this freedom of allowing it, my practice, to be exactly what I need in this moment, on this day.

I can let the practice meet me, instead of me serving the practice and ‘bending into’ something I don’t want to be today, if it does not feel right.

If I make my yoga mat a magic carpet, I can make a wish, step onto it and make it come true.

The different threads of my carpet

The reasons why we decide to roll out our mat and make time for our body-mind practice are different for everyone. My reasons, I see as different coloured threads with which I weave my magic yoga carpet:

  • One of the threads is to enjoy long held yin yoga poses, where the body and mind can be, rest and open.
  • Another thread is the strengthening of my body; sweating, building muscle, practising balances and flexibility. Sometimes I just like to train my body. Just because I like it and because it gives me skills in other body practices, such as dance.
  • I also love to make my yoga mat simply a ‘body hang out’ place, where whatever movement or sequence comes, I follow it, for however long feels good.
  • Following from the above, or being quite similar, and I suppose something that weaves into all of my body practices is an experience of ‘moving meditation’. Becoming so present to the movement and how I transition between poses for example, that it is a movement meditation.
  • To play: I come to my yoga mat to play. I love hanging out in the body and I love to teach my body ‘cool stuff’ that’s fun to do, such as standing on my hands or doing other fun balances. I integrate some of the ‘yoga stuff’ into my dance practice too. To me, yoga is also extending my body’s vocabulary, while getting strong on my ‘magic carpet of body play’.
  • Another colour on my magic carpet would be body meditations (body scans) and yoga nidra. Making the yoga mat a bubble of complete relaxation and yogic sleep.

The magic of the carpet: honesty, fun and self-care

Of course, everything has its place, and so do strictly defined practices. There’s no doubt about that. Perhaps in the West we should sometimes allow for more softness and spaciousness, as we tend to drive ourselves quite hard already along the highways of career, living up to expectations, managing jobs, bringing up children and making relationships work, etc.

I think for many of us, it is a good idea to take life, ourselves and perhaps our practice less seriously. Not in the sense of giving it less attention, but maybe by bringing more lightness to it; a little less seriousness and diligence and a little more play?

Of course, a weekly practice of the same sequence and style is something very beautiful! The magic of the yoga carpet is of such a nature that each time I come back to the same or similar practice, I can dive into it with a different focus or intention; it becomes a different journey each time.

My practice must feel good to me. And what I need changes each day. When I arrive on my mat, I take a moment, pause and feel into what it really is that would nourish, support, and feel good for my body and myself. Whether it is a ‘training’ kind of ‘yang’ session or the opposite, a yoga nidra bubble. It is a practice of noticing how I feel and voicing (perhaps just to myself) what it is that I need. The magic carpet carries me toward self-reflection, self-care and manifesting what I need — with ease and fun.

Of course, I can take this ‘magic carpet’ awareness into the rest of my life. I am not saying that life is a magic carpet and we can just wish for everything and it appears. But we do weave a carpet throughout our life and in our home, through our actions and how we are and express ourselves, each day.

The way we show up, what we choose or not, will over time make the colours and patterns of our magic life carpet. While we always co-create with life and others, and things are not just how we shape them, we do have a choice in how we meet life and what our intention and focus is, just like when we get onto our yoga mat.