|Yoga knowledge and practices for your health and healing
Yoga rugs vs. Sticky mats
The use of natural materials verses the use of synthetic materials for the practice of yoga and meditation.
|The use of cotton yoga rugs and other natural materials is in debate in the West where the use of the “sticky mat” has
some how gained acceptance for use in the practice of yoga and meditation. It is common to go to almost any yoga
studio in the West and find sticky mats in use. How this invention came into being may be one of convenience or maybe
out of ignorance. The sticky mat does work great for keeping the student stable during poses and from slipping on slick
floors. However, if one looks at the subtle aspects of energy and connection, the use of natural materials, such as a
cotton yoga rug or wool blanket, becomes far more important than the convenience of a cold, synthetic mat.
If we look to the ancient texts on yoga, an understanding of why natural materials should be used in one’s yoga practice
becomes clear. Looking to the Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter VI, verse 11 states,
“śucan deśe pratisthāpya sthiram āsanam ātmanah nātyucchritam nātinicam
The yogi’s seat, in a clean place, should be firm (not wobbly), neither too high nor too low, and covered, first, with kusha
grass, then with deer or tiger shin, then with a cloth.
Today in the West, we do not have access to kusha grass, which the propose of was to protect the body against the
dampness of the earth, however, today most people are practicing yoga and meditation inside where there is sufficient
protection against dampness. So today this step may be avoided, however, the use of natural materials for the practice
of asanas and meditation is still very important. Think of your "foundation" and what it is build upon. The strong and
earthly your foundation the stronger the results of your practice will be.
In meditation, the importance of the animal skin or wool is to insulate the body against the pull of the earth currents.
During meditation, the mind tries to withdraw the energy of his or her life force from the senses to the soul. If one uses
natural materials, such as a wool blanket, sheep skin, or cotton mat, to insulate the body then the tug-of-war between the
upward flow of the life force through the nerves and the downward pull of the earth currents is avoided. By using the
appropriate material, one will gain a deeper awareness through their meditation and the practice of asanas.
If one does not wish to use an animal skin, you should substitute it with a folded woolen blanket. Cover the wool blanket
with a silk cloth. Silk repels certain earth currents better than cotton does. The same concept should be used when
performing asanas, which are simply a form of meditation. Except here, we wish to make a connection with the earth to
ground ourselves while holding a posture or asana. Just for the same reasons that we remove our shoes and socks
before yoga practice we should look to remove obstacles that keep us from balancing and grounding to the earth.
A sticky mat provides no connection to the earth and interferes with the subtle energies that are being produced by the
asanas being practiced. This is also true about the materials that one wears during yoga practice. Wearing synthetic
clothing blocks subtle energies and currents that are created during yoga practice, whereas natural materials, such as
cotton or silk, aid in your practice by allowing the subtle energies to flow.
|Using communal objects in the yoga studio…
The Bhagavad-Gita also states that one should meditate and practice on a firm seat
that is clean – here clean not only refers to not being soiled with dirt but also clean
of unspiritual vibrations of others. The thoughts and life force emanating from an
individual saturates the objects he uses and their dwelling as well. This is why
spiritual or holy place holds a certain higher vibration than say a Wal-mart store.
Again, for this reason, it is recommended that one uses their own equipment vs.
communal objects such as blankets or mats that others have used. It is better to
bring your own wool blanket, wool shawl, and yoga rug when attending class. This
is not to say that others are projecting bad energy and that you should avoid them,
however, they may releasing emotional blocks or doing spiritual work of their own
that will be absorbed by the objects that surround them. If you use these objects
after them, you may pick up some of these vibrations and will have to use your
energy to release them. By using your own yoga rug or mat and wool meditation
blanket, it will not only keep you from absorbing unspiritual vibrations and negative
emotions left behind by others but it will allow you to increase the positive vibrations
that you are building each time you meditate or practice yoga.
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|Cotton yoga mats
are better to use
Natural fibers allow
energy to flow and
asanas over time.
Allows you to be
grounded to the
earth during your
Bikram yoga as it
will absorb your
help you maintain