How this little mat changed my life…well my traveling and fitness life.

Eileen Chua

When I first started getting into yoga, I would religiously go to hot yoga studios, using studio props and delicately laying my little towel over the yoga blankets or blocks to avoid germs and bacteria (I mean people were profusely sweating on these props!  oh and ps.  I am a germaphobe).  As the years went by, how I practiced yoga changed – I completed my 200 hr. teacher training and found myself practicing more at home, in which case, I ended up buying a slew of props for my home practice, which was fine, until my husband and I found ourselves traveling extensively around the world.  I was struggling to bring all my bulky heavy props abroad; packing and traveling with large roller suitcases (which isn’t ideal when you are visiting 4-5 different countries and hopping on a plane every week or so).  So began our portable life…

So to introduce myself, I grew up in New Jersey, moved to Atlanta, then back to New Jersey, then to NorCal – SF area, then finally to Scottsdale, AZ where both my husband and I reside.  Moving around so much pretty much taught me to keep things light and not get bogged down with “stuff”.  Also living in NJ where it snowed every other day, forced me to start a home practice since classes were often cancelled due to weather and roads were not always plowed to get to said yoga or barre class – those were the days I would feel enraged about living in NJ – I know, not very yogi.  But I learned from it and having a home practice has changed my life – now I don’t get so enraged. 😊

 As I got older, I have been practicing yoga for 20 + years the last 15 being the most intensive.  I was hypermobile, super flexi and was always going for the “full pose” and after a while, my body started to rebel.  I found I definitely needed help in some poses with props/blankets/blocks.  With our traveling schedule we would be gone 3-4 months at a time (before Covid-19) I could make do without props but I loved feeling supported in certain poses, especially my hips where I can twerk to one side in certain poses.  I didn’t want to bring a huge blanket so in comes the little mat that changed my fitness routine.  It was easy to wrap this mat around yoga mat (which I bring everywhere) or fold into my carry-on – I am now proud to say I have learned the art of packing 1 small carry-on bag for our long trips 🙌🏼  .  Turns out I don’t need to pack 5 pairs of shoes.

 

 Now, I know we are restricted on traveling and homebound so breaking out the bulkier props is no big deal, but the mat is also a life saver for my barre practice.  I started barre about 5 years ago to help with my hyper-mobility.  Trying to build strength to stabilize my flexibility, I use it as a cushion for my feet in relevé, under my lower back for ab work, folded up between my legs for inner thigh work, under my knees for kneeling quad workouts – its uses are endless! 

 This little mat is the one constant prop I pull out every time I do yoga or barre, even my foster dogs love it! 😉🐾

What props are your go-to/can’t live without?  I would love to know what you think, please leave a comment below!

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