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If you say so…

October 14, 2010

First of all, please let me say how many fond memories are dancing through my brain as I look at this picture of a slip-n-slide. You know you’re right there too. I’m remembering inevitability of eating shit when the plastic tarp isn’t wet enough, and the grass in your toes, finger, teeth and nose as you pass by the end of the runway when there is just the right combination of water and speed.

As you well realize, slippin’ n’ slidin’ has its place and time and I would venture a guess that that time is not in a yoga practice.  Like most en vogue practices, though,there is always going to be a current of “naturalists” movements and in this case they’re saying nix the yoga mats. According to a recent NY Times article, people are starting resent their plastic sthat thatticky mats. Some reasons cited were environmental, while others were more firmly rooted in the physical inconvenience or sheer distaste for yoga mats.  I say, “for reals?”

Dana Flynn, director of the popular studio Laughing Lotus, said something to the effect of the “rubber just got in the way.” Well, well, well…now haven’t we heard that a million times before. It’s often followed with such things as “it just feels better without” or “it’s just so unnatural.” So practicing yoga on a sticky mat is neither traditional nor grounding, but it does have it’s definite strong points. For instance, down dog would be called face down on the floor dog without a sticky mat. To that end, I can’t even use just any sticky mat. This article should have been about how nobody should ever use those crappy plastic sticky mats again…Jade mats only. Forever. XOXO.

For your reading pleasure, I will here extract the major points hit upon in the article, complete with my commentary. OF COURSE!

  • commercialization of yoga – Hmm.  90% of Western practitioners of yoga probably have commercialization of yoga to thank for their practice. Beside that, what isn’t commercialized these days? I would say that although yoga mats are “commercialized” they sort of rank up there with shoes. They’re necessities. I’ve never seen a billboard advertising yoga mats. For that matter, I’ve hardly seen an advertisement for a yoga mat. Also, stop being delusional. Yoga is a multi billion dollar industry.
  • interference with certain positions- Nonsense. As I would expect, no one expounds upon this claim. They merely lob it out there and expect all of the consumers will just gobble that right up.  As I’ve previously mentioned, I couldn’t do downward dog with out a mat. In my opinion, having a surface on which you can traction is extremely valuable for so many poses that are commonly included in a yoga class. The one posture that comes to my mind that gets a little tricky with a mat is hanumanasana (full split). It some times gets a little tangly, but whatever.  That is ONE pose.
  • environmentally harmful – Again, my argument here is similar to that of commercialization. This is the nature of the beast these days. What can we do as human beings that isn’t environmentally harmful in some way? If you really think about it, we replace our yoga mats so infrequently that it can’t possibly be doing as much damage as something as simple as eating snacks. Think about your bag of organic-whole-grain-whatever. That was manufactured god knows where, packaged with many of its brethren and shipped, unpacked, the packing was discarded…then you buy it, eat it and trash it. You do this what, once a day? twice a day? It is best to live consciously always. Minimize your consumption in logical ways, then you may realize that the mat is the lesser of all evils. There is also the concern of off-gassing.  I know a bit about this.  It is sure unpleasant, so there is totally validity to this concern. I practice on a Jade mat and it smells terrible (not because of me) but it is a natural rubber…so it’s not the same off gassing that a PVC extruded mat would give off.  I’ll wave the white flag on this complaint.
  • cleanliness This argument too has some validity. Rental mats at most studios are questionable at best. The simple solution is don’t use those mats. Only use your mat, and don’t share it. Take time and care to clean it after each use, and if you’re feeling super OCD then wash your feetsies before you put them on the mat. Inevitably you’ll probably put your face on it, so it’s best that nothing nasty like summer city feet were ever on that mat.  I’m of the belief that our society is making itself more and more immunodeficient by over cleaning so I’ll take my chances with a plethora of sanitation-questionable scenarios: public restrooms, holding the subway poles, yoga studio mat rentals, street food.
  • cost- Yoga mats range in price for sure. In my possession are two mats, one of free origin and one that cost me $50. I waited a long time before I dropped that dough and I resisted too. But, oh, was it worth it. Now that I know what I was missing, I’ll be sure to never miss it again. “You get what you pay for” applies to so many things. Even yoga mats. Now, I know that once you’ve expended funds for the mat the last thing you want to do is pay to store it at the studio but just know, that is a service…like a tip, or a delivery fee. You’re paying for mat storage because you can’t be inconvenienced to carry it around. Don’t be so lazy.

Obviously, I’m pro mat. I don’t know who these people are who think they’re going to get more in touch with themselves or nature or whatever, but I’m sticking with sticky.

[Image via: curbly.com]

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