Skill in action

pasta salad

Skill in emptying the larder

One definition of yoga is this: skill in action. It’s one of many: the more familiar include “union” and “to yoke”. These three alone open up myriad interpretations, which can be influenced by things like culture, language, experience, and even mood, at a particular time of day.

For now, for this week, I’m going with this: “skill in action” means to be deliberate in everything you do. Don’t be half-assed; have a reason for any action you take, and stand behind that reason. This can also mean that if you don’t have a good enough reason to do something, let it fall off the plate. Don’t do it, if you’re not going to do it well.

It’s making me feel even better about a few things I’m making happen, lately: I’m taking an estate planning class, I’ve signed up for a yoga studies course (and buying the requisite pile of books); I’m doing many things to keep my plantar fascia happy; I am letting my climbing gym membership lapse; and I’m choosing not to do any races this fall.

Of course, it’s not just about feeling good about a past decision, but at least it’s reaffirming, and thus encouraging.

Revolution Mat Pose

Yoga Mat Ballistics

Related, because I’m being deliberate about these mats: I continue to evaluate a few different yoga ones, as promised. Those reviews will come soon! For now I can offer this: the heaviest one of the three I decided to review is by far the Prana Revolution Mat, weighing in at 9 lbs. See Steve modeling it as an ersatz shoulder-firing missile weapon in our living room, at left. For now, I can say that its thickness was helpful for a Pilates session I did on our carpeted floor in the basement, though at the same time, it was almost prohibitively sticky (perhaps Pilates involves a little more sliding than yoga tends to).

The Manduka Black Mat Pro is also fairly heavy. For both mats, the weight is a little prohibitive for toting to the studio, if getting there involves walking (or biking) very far while also carrying a gym bag, even with the very handy sling that I bought in the same Amazon order. I may end up using these mats mainly in my home practice.

From the early testing I’ve done, one thing that bears mentioning is that carrying around an expensive mat can send signals to various people I encounter. As I teacher, I don’t want to infer that to benefit from yoga, you need to sink $90 into a mat. On the other hand, it’s possible that the $90+ mat, whether due to its thickness, its stickiness, its width, its color, its frog logo, its guarantee, its brand’s story, the company’s mission, and/or the fact that you don’t buy one at a discount store, is helpful to your yoga practice and life. As such, you may find a way to make that mat fit into your budget.

More on the mat comparisons, later. It’s remarkably timely that one of my two trusted less-expensive mats is finally starting to show signs of age.

Also related, as we had a great reason to eat pasta and basil: the pasta dish pictured above is a dinner we fixed recently. We picked the recipe because it would help us use up several old pantry items and some already-bolted basil and parsley in the backyard, all at once. It’s made a great lunch, several days: here’s the recipe, which we found in Giada De Laurentis’ Everyday Pasta cookbook: Tuna and Green Bean Salad.

How does “yoga is skill in action” resonate for you? Or do you have a favorite yoga mat? Share it with us, in the comments. Cheers!


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