Do the splits
Sometimes not even the grippiest of mats will help you. By Victoria Jackson
Recently in class (online, of course!) the teacher said: “In one minute’s time you’re all going to be grateful for one thing: that you’re not using a yoga mat made by [insert popular yoga brand name]”.
This rattled me slightly because I’d just bought one of these mats for myself! Luckily, I had chosen not to use it for class because, in a fit of optimism about future possibilities, I’d gone for the thinner version — great for travel but a bit hard on my knees in everyday use. One day I will be able to do yoga somewhere other than my own front room, but not just yet.
Anyway, I was a bit surprised by the bad-mouthing of this brand. It’s loved by many and has all the requisite eco credentials any yogi might want and I’d really enjoyed my first times trying it out.
When she called the next pose, it all made sense. Hanumanasana or front splits! The yoga mat that-must-not-bementioned is renowned for being really grippy and, the teacher was right — I would have stuck like Velcro. Not a problem the Monkey God himself would recognise, but such are the difficulties in modern yoga practice!
While I recognise that this pose is easy for some, for most of us it’s a slow journey, allowing various muscles to begin to let go — and that’s on a really good day. I always have my hands on blocks as I like the control this gives as I ease my way lower, but the real dealbreaker for me is if I can slide my feet smoothly apart, forwards and backwards.
So my regular mat, which can feel frustratingly slippy in a long Down Dog hold, was actually a blessing on this day. The idea of sliding smoothly into poses stayed with me and a lot of my yoga recently has been done with no mat at all, of any brand. Instead I’ve been sliding in my socks across the wooden floor. There’s a different quality to my movements. Transitions feel smoother and I’m much more creative in the way I link one pose to another.
I’m not quite pirouetting between poses, but I almost feel as though I could! I think that’s something I need to get out of my system before the studios reopen!
Victoria Jackson lives and teaches in Oxford. She is registered with Yoga Alliance Professionals as a Vinyasa yoga teacher. Visit: https://victoriajacksonyoga.com/