It’s an old yoga mat, but when I rest my head on it, it has that old familiar smell.
My yoga mat is bright pink with swirly mandala patterns all around. I bought it in a TJ Maxx several years ago after my co-worker convinced me to try yoga on our lunch breaks. It was a program offered through my place of employment and for $5 a pay period, we could enjoy yoga several times a week.
I remember my apprehension in that first yoga class. It wasn’t the very first yoga class I had ever attended. I tried one in college. It was led by a muscular man who was obsessed with hand stands and yelling at everyone. I left the yoga class feeling like I had been put through some sort of boot camp. I was covered with sweat, sore, and sure that I would never try yoga again.
A New Yogi Beginning…
Fast forward five years and here again I found myself on a yoga mat. Only this time, the lighting in the room was dim, there was a faint smell of lavender, and the beaming instructor, Susan was sitting cross-legged with a huge smile spread across her face. I had a feeling this yoga was going to be very different than the yoga I had experienced those many years ago.
My first class was hard. Every downward dog was a struggle. My knees were shaking, my breathing was off, and my sweaty palms kept me sliding down the mat. The pink mat. The shiny new one I just bought from TJ Maxx. Susan was patient with me, always encouraging. Her soothing voice was reassuring and calming and soon I found myself doing something spectacular…I was letting go.
Trusting Your Body
As time went on the downward dogs started to become less daunting. I actually found myself liking them! I realized that each challenging pose was challenging for a reason. “It’s not about being comfortable,” Susan once said, “It’s about pushing yourself, it’s about feeling what your body is telling you.”
I realized that one of the reasons I had hated downward dog was because my chest would feel tight. This resistance was actually not a resistance in my body, it was a resistance in my mind. It went along with my sweaty palms, my anxiety, my fear, my self doubt. I was scared of yoga because I thought, “I just can’t do it. Everyone else can. They make it look easy. I can’t do it, I will just fail.” This fear put a hold on my heart. It blocked my energy. No one could unblock it, except for myself.
Many years went by of my sporadic practicing and soon we were introduced to a lovely new yoga instructor named Elizabeth. Every yoga session with Elizabeth was a pleasure. She would just brighten up the room. More than what she was teaching us about yoga, was the fact that she was teaching us about ourselves. She brought me to a new understanding about yoga, the body, the mind, the soul.
At the time, I was recovering from three surgeries. I was ill, I was sad, and I was discouraged. But the yoga made me feel whole again. All the while, my pink yoga mat, now a little faded, took the burden. It had lasted through the heat, the sweating, the frustration, and the pain. It was there for the tension, the falls, the ups, and the downs. It was there for my strongest moments, and my weakest.
Back on the Mat
Ten years have passed from that first yoga experience from the drill sergeant. My understanding and appreciation of the practice have grown to a point that I am beginning my yoga teacher training in the next few weeks. I want to pass the love, and strength, and peace that I have experienced through yoga with others. I want to spread light and joy and knowledge to others, lifting them up.
To this day, my pink yoga mat has remained by my side. It’s older now, more worn in, filled with footprints of my year’s journeys. It has held my secrets, listened to my pain, watched as I have grown to the person I am today.
And for that, I am always thankful.
About the Author
Suki Eleuterio is a writer, yoga instructor, and spiritual healer living and spreading love in South Florida. Ever since she was a child growing up in East Africa, she has been intrinsically drawn to healing, listening, and sharing from the heart. She started dancing and practiced ballet for 15 years before being introduced to yoga in 2007. She truly fell in love with the practice and enjoys teaching gentle, hatha, vinyasa and restorative yoga. She infuses her practice with deep healing, reiki, essential oils, and meditation. She has studied the chakras and alternative healing including ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese herbal medicine and she brings this to the classroom encouraging students to find healing from within. Her first book “Messages From My Soul” will be available soon. When she’s not on the yoga mat, she spends her time writing and blogging on her website Found My Light and Sookton’s Space, cuddling with her dog, Lola, or hitting the beach with her husband, Rob. Follow her on Instagram.