why I view yoga as self-care (+ wacces yoga mat review)
Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but this remains my honest and unbiased opinion.
One of my favorite forms of self-care is exercise, and the one I consider most "self-care-y" is yoga. After or during every practice, often the instructor will tell you to thank yourself for taking the time to be here in this space, to be in the present, to let yourself let go of everything that is troubling you at the moment.
I think that's one of the most beautiful forms of self-care — to treat yourself to something that's so good for your mind, body, and soul.
I personally go to CorePower Yoga — I love that they have different classes and that the classes are heated. There are some mixed feelings amongst my friends about sweating it out during yoga, but for me, that's one of my favorite parts.
The usual yoga mat I use is the Manduka eKO Yoga and Pilates mat, which has a non-slip "wet grip" surface. I don't need to use a towel on the mat during the hottest of yoga classes, other than to wipe down my sweaty self while we're doing belly-up core so my back doesn't make farting noises on the mat (attractive, I know).
My favorite thing about this mat was how light it was. As much as I love my Manduka mat, it's so heavy. I'm always running from place to place, which means that some days I have all my school stuff, boxing gear, and laptop in my backpack, plus a yoga mat and sometimes a huge lunch bag as well. If you've ever been a crazy bag lady (i.e. carried your life around with you all day), I'm sure you understand the struggle.
This mat feels like air. No joke. Hands down the lightest yoga mat I've ever tried.
It's also super soft — since it's dual layered, you don't have to worry about your knees hurting or not enough padding when you're doing yoga.
Now on to the real test — trying it during a sweat-filled C2 class at CorePower.
It held up pretty well for the first 20 minutes or so. My biggest complaint was that it would make pretty annoying squeaking noises if I moved in a certain way, which is kind of disruptive during yoga.
After the sweat really started to pour, however, the mat became slippery. I'm pretty sure it's not intended for use with hot yoga, so that's probably my bad. Other than those two points, I'd definitely recommend this mat for yoga practitioners, especially if your yoga isn't heated. If it is and you already have a non-slip towel, I'd throw that on top and it'd solve all your problems. It's also a really good price — only $25.95 on Amazon compared to my $60 Manduka mat.
But back to self-care. The past couple of weeks have held a lot of ups and downs; I've been really happy, but also full of uncertainty. My routine's been all sorts of out of whack, and as someone who thrives on routine, I needed some grounding.
There's something about lying on the mat during savasana (the last couple of minutes when you're in "corpse pose" lying flat on your back, eyes closed) that makes you feel at peace. Like you can take on anything.
You roll onto your side, curled into the fetal position, and suddenly you're reassured. If you believe in Freud and his psychoanalysis, then you know that our personality and much of how we face the outside world is built in our childhood and stems from our unconscious. Returning to this position we were familiar with as a child gives a sense of comfort and for me, grounds me.
We end cross-legged, hands to our heart in a prayer pose. "Namaste," the instructor says. "The light in me reaches out to the light in each and every one of you." Each instructor has their own way of saying this, but the meaning is the same: we are all connected.
We touch our third eye center (the middle of our forehead), bow your heads and touch the ground. "Namaste," we repeat, flutter our eyes open, and go on to face the world.
Whether it's a particularly rough patch in life and I need some grounding, whether it'll be a long day ahead and I want some energy, whether I want to wind down after a tiring day, whether I want to celebrate myself and my body... no matter the reason, yoga is about you. It's you finding yourself, checking in with yourself, inspiring yourself, and becoming one with yourself.
And that's what self-care is about.