Why hitting the mat is the best thing you’ll do today

Hitting the mat? Not exactly a serene description of stepping on your yoga mat. After many years of teaching classes I know it’s exactly what my students feel they are doing when they arrive at class. 

Being a Western yogi can be a challenge.  Life is hectic. So many things to do in so little time; we easily get carried away in the materialistic world we find ourselves living in. 

Making time for ourselves usually comes last in the list of activities and plans we create. Living life at 100 miles an hour and leaving no time to eat or sleep well. Everyone else comes first and we leave ourselves drained. Sometimes our drive to be perfect can leave us seriously run down.

It’s very easy to burn out. Over the years I have found my new students are completely frazzled by the time they attend class and they hit their mat as passionately as a champion boxer knocks out his opponent in the 12th round – looking for change; searching for a new way.

Exhausted, frustrated, mentally and emotionally drained, we come to class to step off the rollercoaster world we find ourselves existing in (I say existing as this is not what ‘living’ life is all about).

Yoga is a mind, body and soul mat practise, improving your physical, mental and emotional health.  Creating a space to check in and sense your body and state of mind in the moment is essential to great health, fitness and wellbeing. 

Don’t get me wrong, all exercise classes and sports have the ability to release your stresses and require you to mindfully connect with your practise but there’s something deeply healing about rolling out your mat and stepping on to your daily practise.  It’s an affirmation that confirms  ‘I have now stepped off the rollercoaster of life and this is now my time’.

Every time you come to your mat you are starting afresh, bringing today’s body to today’s practise and accepting whatever lies ahead in your next session of self-development. 

Every class will be different, even if you find your favourite teacher and stay loyal to their classes. 

Each new day will bring new physical and mental challenges, plus you’ll constantly have to step up and face whatever each new day and practise will bring.  This will affect your mood, your emotions, your energy levels, and your physical body. 

I always ask my students to step in to class with no expectations or judgement.  No self-criticism and definitely no to comparing yourself with the other people in the class. 

Allow yourself to accept your current mind and body.  Whether that’s an injury, mental health issue or an ageing body.  Remember we are only human doing the best we can with what we have in the here and now. 

I have taught classes for more than 20 years and although I dedicate my life to my own practise, I too have off days. I also have a busy life. I have a young family, my husband and I own a busy cafe in the Trossachs and I have a house with three pets to cater for (not my pets but you know how it works).

I’m also frazzled at times and I happily admit to my students some days are great and some are dreadful.  I’m a teacher but I’m not perfect. 

If we could all admit that life is a challenge and share our failures as well as our achievements, I really do believe we’d all be happier and less stressed. 

Together we could create a world where people didn’t need to ‘burn out’, we could compare less, care less and focus on our own self-healing which would create a better life for you and everyone around you. 

If you haven’t already ‘hit the mat’ I’d encourage you to give it a go. Life is not easy, but it can be beautiful. 

It will take commitment to slow down, create space for yourself and commit to your personal practise.  Start today, find a teacher and put yourself first for once.  I know you can do this. You deserve peace and happiness and I promise you a yoga practise will do this and more.

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