Meditations from the Mat

“The real payoff of a yoga practice, I came to see, is not a perfect handstand or a deeper forward bend—it is the newly born self that each day steps off the yoga mat and back into life.” 
Rolf Gates

Last fall, I began attending a small weekly yoga class, run by a wonderfully kind and experienced yogini who converted her home into a working yoga studio. After about an hour long class (which ranges from yin to ashtanga style, and always includes laughter and helpful assistance), we settle in for savasana. Once our instructor Chris ensures that we are all comfortable and relaxed (she provides all props, including cozy blankets and hot massage rocks to lay on for sore muscles), she typically reads us an excerpt from an article or book. While completely surrendered in savasana, I felt the words met no resistance and poured directly into my soul. By what I am convinced is some sort of yogini mind-reading magic, she would somehow choose passages that spoke directly to my current situations. I recall one day that the passage was so timely and encouraged me to release my fear, and I found myself needing a few moments extra to wipe away a few tears as well. On the days that I was particularly moved, I would ask where the passage came from. Her answer: Meditations from the Mat.

Meditations from the Mat is a book by Rolf Gates, and I recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in yoga. Divided into 365 passages for daily reading, each chapter studies all of the aspects of the 8 limbs of yoga in a very approachable manner, with tips and insights along the way.

I like to have it close to my yoga mat each day, so that once I finish savasana, I can sit with my tea and read a passage. Here is a quote I came across today that I absolutely love:

“Love is not a thought, it is an action. And each loving action that we take infuses us with more energy for loving action in the future.” 

Do you have a favorite yoga book right now? 

Bathtub Meditation: Scrub Off Negativity

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."
Sylvia Plath

Over the past year, I have experienced a lot of "life" (career changes, moving, medical emergencies, family death, etc.), and it was easy to find myself occasionally overwhelmed with stress.

Have you ever noticed how when you have a lot weighing on you emotionally, your body feels physically weighed down as well? It almost feels as if you are wearing a heavy coat of negativity. Not so fun...

When you are stressed, it can be hard to carve out time to just sit down and meditate. Therefore, I have found a quick solution that lets you (literally) scrub off some of those heavy thoughts: shower-time or bath-time meditation!

Since it is something that everyone does everyday (give or take), it can be a great way to squeeze in a little mental tuneup. Many times, people rush through washing up on autopilot: shampoo, soap, scrub, shave, done. This basic meditation allows you to bring a little mindfulness to your day, and do a little good for your emotional self as well. Depending on whether you prefer showers or baths, you can chose between the two meditations.

If you are showering: As you stand under the stream of water, envision it washing away all of your negative thoughts, as if they were mud stuck to your skin. Some emotions might take a little extra scrubbing, but as you lather up, release all of your fear, anger, and regret so that it may go swirling down the drain.

If you are soaking in the tub: Allow all of your muscles to sink into the hot water. Using a loofa or wash cloth, massage your skin from head to toe, visualizing any negativity within being released into the water. Once you feel truely relaxed and surrendered, unplug the drain and send the water that now carries all that detrimental energy away.

By the time I dry off after a shower or tub meditation, I always feel a lot better, both inside and out!

I always like bringing a cup of yummy tea in the tub with me as well!
I love to use natural bath and shower products, such as Epsom salts, essential oils, Jason shower gel, and my favorite homemade sugar scrub. What are your favorite natural products? Have you ever meditated in the tub before?