Friday, August 10, 2012

This ain't yo' mama's yoga mat. It's MY mama's.

Though she was disabled, my mother made sure exercise was a regular part of her daily routine. It's easy to recall the time I walked in on her while she was making her bed.  She was unaware I was there, her back to me as she straightened the sheets and blanket on one side. Then, she sat on the mattress, tucked, and rolled across to the other side, where she fixed the linens there.  Glancing up, she saw me. Her face lit up with a mischievous grin. "Making beds is boring.  At least this way, I get some exercise, too!".

Bumma was not one for going out to a class, but instead relied on books, and the occasional PBS program for learning. At some point, she decided to try yoga.  I don't think the experiment was successful, but she liked stretching on the floor enough to buy herself a yoga mat. (We had a quick flurry of worry, because by that time, we were sharing a living space, and she hadn't thought to check to see if the mat had latex in it -- but it didn't, thankfully.) So, what does an woman over the age of 76 pick for a mat?  A bright orange one, with big Polynesian style flowers on it.  It made my eyes hurt every time I saw her on it, mostly because the vibrant floral prints she favored clashed gloriously with the orange.  She was like a spring bouquet from a Tim Burton film.

Eventually, when my darling little mother began to decline, the mat got rolled up and pushed to the side of the room.  It was pulled out again, but as a sleeping mat for me, as I slept by her bedside when she was on her final journey. (I found I could sleep on it, because I could keep my eyes closed, and not be kept awake by the color.)  That last week or so of her life, in one of our times for talking, she told me she hoped that when I had more time on my hands, I'd be sure to take care of myself and try some new activities.  She passed on the orange yoga mat to me.

And indeed, I did try yoga. I'm not a natural, nor does finding stillness come easily for my chattering brain.  But I have built meditation, stretching, and some simple asnas into my routines. And I most often use the orange mat, which still is way too bright for my comfort, but reminds me of her special spirit. In fact, I recently started taking an exercise class to help in strength and flexibility, but since the mats provided in the class have latex, I bring my own.  And my own is my orange mat. It now looks a little different, because I've, of course, added my own czukie twist to it. But the new designs and decorations bear the inscription "In loving memory of Ruthe Nadel".  (That's the little line of print below the bold line you see in the picture above.)

Cat. Cow. Tadasana/Mountain pose. And my own personal asana: resting in the mother's arms.


  1. I'm rather fond of certain shades of orange. That looks like a mat I'd pick too! Your mom had good taste. :)

  2. Oh, Czukie. Now I'm sniffling. But I loved this entry. And that awesome mat, too :)

  3. Shannon, I'd not have pegged you for a bight orange kind of gal. But you share the love of the color with a remarkable woman. It's even kind of growing on me, now.

    And Margie, I'll bring my sharpies if I ever get out to Colorado and jazz up your matt for yoga in the park.