I have often felt that the mat is a pivotal part of my personal practice. Indeed I have waxed lyrical about how just getting on your mat is a brilliant first step in your yoga practice.
After my fantastic aerial yoga class in Ubud, Bali, I took my daughter to a kids yoga class (in which she ironically got to experience a bit of aerial yoga!), and knowing how many people pass through these yoga studios, I sent her into the room with my (beloved) mat. Parents were strictly forbidden and so I left her to it, grabbed a coffee and hung out in an amazing studio complex in a beautiful valley – by far the most lovely place we had seen in Bali – in the Ubud Yoga Centre.
She had a brilliant time and came out of her first yoga class on a real high. We had been out for an expensive gourmet meal with wine pairing the night before and so wanted to get back home fairly rapidly and chill for the rest of the day.
The next day I realised I had been a bit slack about doing my daily practice. “I should really put my mat somewhere prominent,” I said to myself, “so I can’t give myself any more excuses to be lazy.” We were leaving the next morning so I thought I would get my mat out now and that would ensure I didn’t forget to take it with me. And then I realised with horror that I had left the mat behind at the Ubud Yoga Centre. I had lost my mat! Lost mat!!!!!! My daughter had come out of the class without the mat and I just didn’t think to check.
It was very annoying but I figured we could drop into the yoga centre on the way to our next destination. It would just be in lost property. Probably.
The following morning we dropped into the yoga centre, but alas the mat was nowhere to be found. I felt very cross not only as it would have been obviously left behind and it was clearly being “looked after’ by someone, the staff were not particularly helpful (they didn’t offer to contact the teacher from that class) and it felt, well, distinctly un-yogic to acquire someone else’s mat.
Was it really possible that someone would steal someone else’s lost mat? To be fair it was an expensive one – the most expensive I had ever owned – although to look at it wasn’t much. A bit dour in colour and not very sexy. But the yoga centre actually stocked them in their shop (for even more than I had bought one) and so a local to the class would have known it’s worth.
But really, pinching someone else’s lost mat?
I decided that someone must be looking after it so I emailed the centre, asking them to keep an eye out, and also to ask the teacher. I also put out word on a variety of Facebook groups local to Ubud and the yoga community, in the hope that whoever was looking after it would know where to return it.
Miraculously, the mat turned up back at the centre a few days later. No explanation but I didn’t care! I had grown very fond of this mat (I know, it sounds so ridiculous!). Sadly we were now in a town about an hours drive away. To cut a long a boring story short, a friend we had made in Udud who had told us about the kids yoga class, was able to collect it for me and by a lucky coincidence was returning to Australia (her homeland) the very same day we were flying there ourselves and so would be able to post the mat back to me.
What relief! And that week I had caught a nasty tummy bug so yoga of any kind – even breathing exercises – were frankly out of the question. Daily practice or no, if you are severely compromised then you need to look after your health first and foremost. OK, I think I could have managed some gentle breathing.
But on my recovery I discovered just how heavily I have been relying on my mat as a cornerstone of my self-practice. When you get out of bed and literally step onto your mat, it is easy to do a few rounds of Sun Salutations. When you are sitting on your phone, on Facebook, waiting for dinner to cook, or for a taxi to arrive, if your mat is staring you in the face it is a daily reminder. “Come on,” it says. “Get up off your arse and do a downward dog!”
With no mat I discovered my self-discipline was being really compromised. Was my mat loss an unconscious way of deepening my yoga journey? Of sabotaging the way I was making it easy for myself to keep up my daily practice? Well, over the next month, I was going to find out.