Meditations from the Mat - Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga, by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison, is a collection of 365 essays that delve into the various aspects of yogic philosophy and practice. The authors masterfully bring the Eight Limbed Path of Yoga, as defined thousands of years ago by the sage Patanjali, into the realm of the modern day yoga practitioner.
The book is broken down into eight parts with each part being devoted to one of the Eight Limbs: The Yamas, The Niyamas, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. An even further breakdown gives an essay for each day of the year. What this breakdown accomplishes for the reader is a bite-sized reading of just a few paragraphs that explains an aspect of yogic teachings within the context of the personal experiences and observations of the writer.
This immediately sets the reader up for success because it allows for time to read and digest the information, anecdotes, and examples before moving on into another sort of lesson with the next days’ reading. Of course the reader is not exactly bound by this organizing convention of the book. One can read an essay per day or the book can be read in larger chunks or even all at once. However one chooses to take in this book, the reader is in for a considerable treat. Each essay is preceded superbly by a quote that reflects the point and intention of the essay it precedes. These quotes are drawn from across many large strata of sources. Everything from song lyrics, spiritual texts, and even personal quotes of famous and not so famous people are used to set up each essay.
The essays, never more than a few paragraphs, are succinctly written. The authors dive right in and are fearless in using personal experiences and examples to illustrate their points. In doing so yogic philosophy comes alive and is made immediately available to the reader through their storytelling. Gates and Kenison have made these philosophies and practices relevant to modern culture and experience, which in turn enables readers to take these lessons in to their yoga practices and then out into their immediate lives.
Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison have contributed a fabulous body of work to the heritage of yoga and have placed in our hands a tool to enable us to grow at our own pace and in our own time. Meditations from the Mat will surely be a welcome addition to any yogis bookshelf.
For the purposes of this review, I used my personal copy of this book which I purchased from Amazon.com