Black, gray, modern and abstract patterned vinyl yoga mats. I measured my steps against the inch between rectangles, looking for an empty space in the overly full room. I smiled to myself, “New Year, New You” had my semi-regular Sunday yoga class fuller than the DMV.
I unrolled my mat. In a sea of new, hip and trendy mats, mine was an eye sore.
A rough estimate would put my mat from 8 to 12 years old. It was thinner than the other mats, boasting a whopping 2 mm, compared to their solid 4-5 mm. It was pink. A rose pink, kind of a tribute to the 90s, with white outlines of Hibiscus strewn from top to bottom, a throwback to the early 2000s. The best part was the bleach stain that told the story of ALL my surviving household goods thrown into a pile in the garage while my house was renovated after Hurricane Harvey. There was not method or organization, instead there was a “hurry and get it out of the house” sense that went with the pile. Hence, my yoga mat being stored with the bleach toilet bowl cleaner that did not have a closed lid. That beautiful green gel turned a small section at the top of my mat, and another section in the middle, a putrid rusty color with light spaces of off-putting-orange.
Perhaps at this point I should mention that I’m a tight wad. My mom prefers the term ‘frugal’, which should be an indicator that I come by closed-fist approach to money naturally.
Splurging for me is an appetizer at dinner…
And, though I have worked out pretty regularly throughout my life, I have never invested in my work out gear. In college I worked out at a boxing gym every day. And used the same 2 pair of cut off sweat pants every day. It was not until my boxing coach made a joke about how I had no other shorts that I realized that, “Hey! Maybe I should buy some more workout shorts. Perhaps people think I’m dirty because I always wear the same thing.” Then I had to ponder if I truly was dirty and buy more work out clothes. (Spoiler alert, I was and am not. Aside from the gym shorts incident.)
So when this whole, sexy attire for working out and $60 work out pants came into fad, I scoffed. I am happy with my TJ Maxx affordable-finds in work-out attire. It might be good for others, but my salary is VERY specifically allocated to mortgage and food. I get a mani/pedi maybe once a year, so a pair of pants is not my $60 luxury. My $60 luxury is called lights and car insurance. And fitness, which I see more as a preventative for pain and medical bills later in life.
So. Here I am at my Hot Yoga class. And so is everyone else. And as I roll out my mat, I feel a pang of embarrassment for my bleach stain and outdated mat.
I feel a little less
Because my mat is not new
My mat is old
And I wonder is it really the mat that I’m feeling like this about. I’ve noticed other people’s fancy mats before, and never coveted one. But today I think about looking on amazon when I get home. Or asking my neighbor how she picked her mat (she has a slim muscle on muscle frame, so is obviously a pro.)
I look at the pattern imprinted of tiny squares that used to be on all the mats that were sold. Now everyone’s mat has material that has grip, but not the squares.
No one’s mat has stains.
No one’s mat has outdated flowers.
Or an ugly color.
I lay down in Hero Pose while I wait for class to begin.
And then it does. A slow start with methodical breathing and increasing pace and rhythm to your own need for movement and breath. And my mat melts away. The exercise, intensity, heart rate and heat stay with me.
Until we flip our dog and my foot lands on my neighbors mat. It is thick and solid. And it is no longer about the fanciness and fitting in, but now I feel a difference in the quality of the mats.
But this thought is only there for the 2 breathes that my foot rests on her mat, and my mind turns back to the ques of the instructor and the movement.
And when class is over, and everyone is laying quietly on their mats, resting in a pose called dead man, I smile because my mat supported me. It caught my sweat, held my feet, secured my hands. And with its initial outward ugliness, it’s still a mat that works. Not once during class did I focus on the bleach stain, instead I looked at my foot placement. I did not look at the tiny squares, instead I focused on strengthening my stance or the distance between my hands.
And as I wiped down and rolled up my mat I was grateful that I had such a unique tribute to my journey in exercise. A relic of cool patterns from the past, with my own personal marks of the Hurricane that brought the strong city of Houston to its knees.
If I consider investing in another mat, it will not be because of the ugliness of mine. It will be because of comfort of the foot fall when I flipped my dog.
But for now, I am satisfied with my mat. And again I wonder, is it really the mat that I’m feeling like this about.