Don’t Miss the Revolution Because of a Misunderstanding
Whenever there’s a new innovation, especially in a very old tradition like Yoga, eyebrows get raised and questions come up. As we started sharing information about SmartMat with folks in the community, we came across some common misunderstandings about the world’s first intelligent yoga mat.
For those of you who don’t know, SmartMat is a responsive yoga mat that communicates to your smart device (phone, tablet) via in-mat, high precision sensors that give you real-time feedback on your alignment and practice, adjusting you as you go. This futuristic technology has the potential to completely transform your Yoga experience both at home and in the studio, and it’d be a shame to miss out on this revolutionary technology because of some misinformation. So, let’s debunk these myths now, and get on with our practice.
Myth 1: I don’t like technology. I can’t use this; it will be too complicated.
Look, we get it. Being tech-savy has never been a requirement for being an accomplished Yogi. So it is often the case that when we hear about a new innovation we don’t fully understand yet, and it seems like it’s way to futuristic sounding to be real, many of us wrongly assume we won’t know how to use it or it will be overly complicated.
Reality Check: SmartMat is designed to be entirely intuitive in its use; user-friendly for even the techno-phobe; and minimally disruptive to the normal flow of your Yoga practice, except to interject highly customized alignments specific to your body.
It’ll kind of be like having your own personal Yoga teacher right by your side throughout the whole practice, but instead of a live person, she just happens to be a computer that lives inside your mat. During the design and development of SmartMat, multiple Yoga experts and technology experts were consulted to find the best way possible to create a resource that would not detract from the beautiful things the Yoga practice already brings you (for example, increased self-awareness or better postural alignment) but actually add to them or enhance them. I, for one, am not a “techie”. (Heck, I still don’t even own an i-phone.) And if I can use SmartMat with no tech-stress, then trust me, I know you can too.
Myth 2: It’s not yogic to use technology for your Yoga practice. This will just pull you away from getting in better touch with your body.
Certainly, there will be folks who flinch or even balk at the idea of doing anything technology-assisted when it comes to their Yoga practice. Each person is ultimately the final judge of what is best for their own practice, but we do encourage you to keep an open mind about how this technology might in fact bring you in better connection with the workings of your body than you’ve ever been before. Let me explain.
Reality Check: SmartMat is designed to be calibrated to your specific body and give you real-time feedback that tells you exactly what’s going on in your body and in your alignment as its happening – providing you with a level of postural awareness that wouldn’t even be available to you from an actual live teacher in the room.
Now don’t freak out. We’re not suggesting to forget teachers all together and just work with SmartMat. There are undeniable benefits to working with real live teachers. The support, energy, and atmosphere they provide are reasons enough to keep working with them on top of all the other benefits they provide. But it is true that as a computer, SmartMat will be able to collect information that a live teacher just doesn’t have the capacity to. For example, SmartMat will be able to tell you exactly how much more weight you need in your right hand to find optimal alignment with your left in downward dog. It will be able to tell you how many calories you burned, and how you specifically improved your pose alignment from one practice to the next. The level of detail SmartMat will be able to collect about your alignment and vitals will be an amazing way for you to develop an incredibly high level of awareness about your body dynamics, perhaps in ways you never thought possible before. Again, SmartMat was designed with the idea in mind that this would be an unparalleled resource to enhance your practice, not detract from it. With more comprehensive and detailed information about your body’s needs and alignment from SmartMat, you’ll start to know yourself on a whole new level in your practice.
Myth 3: There’s no such thing as a “Perfect Pose” in Yoga. Why would I want to try for something that’s not even a reality?
Well, this one’s more about semantics. I don’t believe in perfection either. I think it’s some concept we call “right” or “ideal” when in reality, it’s a value we arbitrarily place on something our culture deems worthy. Umm, no thanks. I am much more interested in how SmartMat understands the concept of perfection. Read on.
Reality Check: The phrase “Perfect Pose” flows off the tongue – and we like it for its alliteration – but SmartMat’s concept of “Perfect Pose” is better described as the pose of your personal excellence.
Personal excellence is doing your best in the moment with the information you have on hand, and staying motivated to always keep evolving beyond your current point of performance. With SmartMat’s help, you’ll be able to see exactly how you’re showing up in your practice, and where there’s room to evolve and find your optimal alignment physically, mentally, and beyond. This isn’t about some arbitrary outside definition of what looks perfect to someone else. This is about aligning with your personal best, and having the encouragement and the assistance you need to do that much more efficiently than you’ve been able to do it before.
Myth 4: I’m already really advanced in my Yoga practice. SmartMat won’t be useful for someone like me.
Hold up. Take a deep breath and empty the mind so you can receive this next bit of truth coming at you. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on something that could really take your practice to the next level in more ways than one.
Reality Check: One of the things I most love about Yoga is this – 1) There’s always more to learn; and 2) You’ll always keep improving. Even the most bendy and athletic of the bunch still have places where they can learn and grow, and SmartMat can help you get there faster.
In fact, advanced Yogis might benefit from SmartMat not only because it will help them refine their poses to a greater level of detail than they were ever able to before, but it will also encourage them to practice “beginner’s mind.” In other words, getting the specialized feedback from SmartMat will allow a seasoned yogi to come to the practice with a new set of eyes and see poses they’ve done a million times before with a whole new perspective. In some ways, I think that fresh perspective assists you with one of the most important alignments of all – the alignment of staying present “in the now” and never taking your practice for granted or going on automatic pilot. And we all could use some extra support and reminders on that front.
Myth 5: I am a newbie. I need to know more about Yoga or practice longer before I start using SmartMat.
Nope. SmartMat is designed to be used by any yogi at any level, and if you’re just starting out, you may particularly benefit from this innovation. Let’s take a closer look.
Reality Check: Newbies can greatly enhance the ease of their introduction to Yoga with the guidance of SmartMat.
Let’s face it. It can be downright terrifying to go into a group Yoga class if you’ve never tried it before. I am always so impressed and inspired by the courage of new students that come to a Yoga class without having a lick of experience or knowing one single pose. It’s like learning a whole new language in your body and your mind at the same time while being surrounded by a bunch of strangers already well versed in the practice; and a teacher calling our directives, sometimes in a foreign tongue. Intimidating stuff. But with SmartMat, a new student could explore the basics of Yoga privately in their own home with exceptionally personalized feedback to assist them in overcoming the newbie jitters a lot quicker than without. With SmartMat’s customized support, new students are much better prepared to enter the group scene with more confidence and capacity, and they’ll by-pass the typical alignment mistakes most new students make when they don’t have the customized attention that SmartMat can provide. And of course, the mat will continue to support you as your practice evolves, and can be used in the group classes as well to offer you that extra support the teacher can’t give you.
So, there you have it. SmartMat de-mystified. We get that innovation can be scary, even if it is exciting and transformative. And I think a good amount of skepticism is healthy about anything in life. But I also know that skepticism best serves us if it encourages us to stay curious and willing to explore and experience the possibilities for ourselves. So, go ahead, try it. Your personal experience will ultimately be the final judge.