It can be downright depressing when you have to roll up your yoga mat and put it away until your body (and your doctor) says the time is right to get back on the mat. It happens to the best of us: a chronic injury, unexpected surgery, even giving birth can mean some serious time off your yoga mat. But if yoga has taught you anything, you’ve learned that pain is your body’s way of telling you to slow down. And once you’ve got the ok from the doc to resume your practice, you’re all psyched to do it, you grab your mat, jump right back in – and find you’re not where you thought you’d be. We’ve got a couple of ideas to help you get going again.
Yoga mats are flexible by nature, and that’s actually a really good thing because they can symbolize your body’s need to be both still and active. While you’re recovering, that mat is just sitting their, patiently waiting. (We anthropomorphize mats all the time. Get used to it.) It’s not doing things it shouldn’t be doing; it’s not over-exerting itself. It’s just waiting. And when the time comes to get it out, you may notice the edges don’t want to stay flat on the ground. Kind of like your body – it doesn’t quite seem to do what you expected it would. You and your mat need to take it easy. Flow back into your flow with patience, acceptance of where you are right now, and with commitment to stay in the moment so you don’t hurt yourself. During this time, we suggest thinking of your yoga mat as a mirror. Curled edges? Not quite tacky enough to the touch? Hey – it’s been out of commission for awhile, what do you expect? Yep – just like you.
So you’ve got the all-clear to begin your time on the yoga mat again. Guess what? Your downward dog isn’t going to “look” right. Shoot, it’s not even going to feel right. When you ease into a reclined cobbler’s pose and your knees are barely even apart, you’re going to feel really frustrated. But who’s got your back? That’s right – your yoga mat. There’s a reason instructors talk about yoga mats like they’re friends. They support you, they help keep you from hurting yourself, and they challenge you to be the best you.
Here’s an idea or two: treat yourself to a new yoga mat, maybe one with a little more padding that will take the edge off easing into the practice again. Changing out the mat can have a psychological effect as well – it’s something new with zero expectations. If pressure points are going to be an issue, try installing a small EVA foam floor beneath your yoga mat. That’s right, double up on the padding. Give yourself every break you need to get back on the yoga mat and back into your practice. And for crying out loud, take it easy on yourself!