In our consumer society, “the best of” anything brings to mind the most expensive, luxurious, or high branded products. But we are talking about yoga, and so right away we need to shift our mind away from the everyday economics based way of thinking to the eternal, cosmic oriented way of being.
Since Yoga means to be in union with creation, the first step before even starting an asana is to be in touch with earth itself. For a deeply dedicated yogi, the room itself has packed clay as the floor. The yoga mat is natural – a raw silk cloth, or a raw cotton cloth – natural organic material. The body should be in touch with the planet as directly as possible because after all, the body came from the earth and will go back to the earth. Right now it is animated through consciousness but one day it will return to the ground.
When practicing yoga, we want it to be a conscious process, not just mechanical exercise. That is why yogis recommend this direct contact with the earth, because of this conscious synchronicity. In fact, not only in yoga but just in everyday living, the extent to which we are in tune with the earth, and the greater cosmos directly determines the level of our health.
Rubber mats are easier to keep clean, and more comfortable to practice on, but they insulate us from the earth, from life. So it’s a question of intent – why do we practice yoga? If it’s just an exercise then yes a rubber or foam mat is all you need. But if we are trying to dissolve into creation itself, then where is the question of comfort and insulation? These are the realm of the ego, not of the yogi.
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