Today when I talk about getting grounded, I’m talking about what goes under your feet: your yoga mat!
#1 (this one is important) Practicing yoga does not require any fancy clothing, tools, props or a mat. I’d never let a rental mat or a dollar-store mat deter anyone from practicing.
However: some of those things can serve to make people more comfortable in their practice, so they can be worthwhile investments, especially if it’s something that lasts you for a long time!
#2 Don’t forget to wash [your yoga mat].
Renting a mat? The studio should have towels and a cleaning spray. Be sure to give it a sniff and a wipe before class for your own sake, and after class, for the yogi who has this mat next.
Did you know? The average yoga mat can actually go in your washing machine! Just be sure to let it air dry.
Using a Jade, Manduka, or Lululemon yoga mat? These awesome mats aren’t washing machine friendly, but they are important to clean. Check the manufacturers instructions. Mats like “The Mat” by Lululemon have a coat that prevents mildew, and keeps you from slipping during asana. Good-smelling anti-bacterial oils (like Tea Tree and Lavender) mess-up this coating, so be careful when picking up a random spray bottle at the studio. You can easily clean it by submerging it in a warm bathtub with some baking soda or dish soap. Give it a rinse, and be sure to allow a full day to air dry!
It might feel like a chore, but making it a habit to clean your mat regularly will serve you hygienically. Trust me-it’s worth it.
#3 Take a moment, and take notice.
Feeling distracted? Can’t get your mind off the job search, the school project, the fight with your mom, or the city bus and grocery list that await you after class? It can be challenging to let go. Some days more than others.
Try to get to the studio a few minutes early so you have time to settle in before you get moving. Unroll your mat. Bring your body to a savanasa (corpse pose) or balasana (child’s pose). Close your eyes. Notice where your body expands as you inhale, and where it sinks-in on the exhale. Start to draw your awareness to where your body is in space. Where it makes contact with the mat. Your forehead. Your hands. Arms, chest, legs, feet. Notice those physical connections. Draw your attention there. When your attention arrives into your mat, into your body, and onto your breath, there’s less room for that outside noise. More space for you to be where you already are.