I bought a new yoga mat. It is soft, yet firm, with excellent grip. The powder blue mat makes me think of soft skies and gentle seas. It’s so comfortable it’s like doing yoga on a hug. And yet, I feel a curious attachment to my old grey mat.
After my first stint in South Korea I stayed with my eldest sister in Australia. She gave me the best gift: a month’s worth of sessions at the local yoga centre. Previously, my experience with yoga had been based on books and videos. It was wonderful to have an experienced teacher to guide me and a class of fellow yogis with whom to practice.
My next stop before heading home was with my elder sister in Ireland. Hearing about how much I loved my yoga sessions in Australia, she bought me what would become a constant companion: a grey yoga mat.
This yoga mat journeyed with me across Ireland, and back home to South Africa. It returned with me to my parents in Johannesburg, and went with us when we traveled to the Kruger Park. I did my yoga practice with that indescribable smell of the bush, the chirping of birds, the peace of the park to centralise me. Our next stop was Port Elizabeth where we visited my husband’s home. I had amazing sessions at his childhood holiday home in Riet River. We travelled up the Garden Route to Cape Town and I did yoga at every stop.
My old grey yoga mat journeyed with me into the heart of the desert. Oman was dusty and dry, but my yoga mat was like a fountain, quenching me with a familiar piece of home. After a year in the desert, my yoga mat joined me on my next adventure into hot and muggy Cambodia. From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, my yoga mat became a sticky source of calm in the bustling, teeming, tropical country. Now, I’m back in South Korea and I’ve finally splurged on a gorgeous yoga mat. And yet, I cannot seem to let go of my grey mat. My new mat is in the flat and my old mat is at my desk at work.
Tonight, I thought about leaving South Korea and how I’d have to leave this old mat behind. My fingers stroke the scratch marks where Sakina sharpened her claws. This mat has been a constant for me amidst many travels across my home country and abroad. From Mpumalanga to Cape Town, from South Africa to South Korea. This yoga mat has seen more of the world than many people.
I guess the true solace is not in the mat, but in the yoga practice: a centralising force that calms me and focuses me. And yet, those claw marks in the grey mat, the flattened prints where hands and feet have impressed permanent marks, the dirt from a hundred places… this scuffed yoga mat has taken me far.