feeling was like walking into your mother's kitchen after your
first trip abroad. You drop your luggage, lift the lid off the
pot on the stove, and breathe in the home-cooked smells. For a
moment, letting go of worldly adventures to savor the peace of
As I watched my fellow yoga students disperse, some north toward
St.Marks Place, others south toward Houston Street, I thought,
"These are the warriors of a modern revolution." An
evolution in consciousness leading to a change in action. In the
sweaty room, mat to mat, breath by breath, they had struggled
to assume the forms of God's creation -- an eagle, tree,
dog, lotus, crow, cobra -- and in doing so, either deliberately
or unwittingly, increased their compassion for all living things.
With purple, blue and green mats in tow, they appeared to be delivering
a divine message to the world -- pieces of heavenly light shot
through the prism of humanity's infinite incarnations. Rubber
scrolls without words, imbued only with the sweat of their devotion
to enlightenment. Some would go on to meet friends at cafes or
movie theatres -- mats sliding from under their arms as they tried
to balance an overflowing bag of popcorn or a steaming cup of
chai. Others shopped for the evening's dinner, their divine scrolls,
much to the chagrin of Korean shopkeepers, bumping into piles
of beautifully stacked fruits and exquisitely displayed jars of
balsamic vinegar. I wondered, "Shouldn't there be a more
dignified way to carry the word of God."
And so BigHeart was born. I set out to create a yoga mat holder
befitting an urban tribe -- members of which cannot be identified
by any of the usual tribal trappings, like body adornments or
ceremonial dress. Some urban yogis are pierced and tattooed, others
tie-dyed and dreadlocked, and yet others expertly waxed and manicured.
The mat is the only external sign of their common path. So I thought,
"Why should these shards of light, mats imbued with the sweat
of their devotional labor, like Jesus' imprint on Veronica's veil,
be hidden in a canvas sack or tucked under an odorous arm?"
Let the people of the world see so that they may follow.
I envisioned people all over New York City with yoga mats strapped
diagonally across their backs, like Robin Hoods of the spiritually
deprived carrying rubber bows in vinyl quivers. I needed to devise
a way for the mat to be on display while being held firmly against
the body. Hot summer nights were spent on my living room floor
with the week's NY Times cut into dubious shapes. One night, after
months of sweating over cat-hair-covered newsprint, it came to
me. Or, should I say, it was given to me. Just like that. It was
so elegant in its simplicity, like Einstein's E=mc2 or Buddha's
Four Noble Truths. My ink-stained hands excitedly pushed aside
the 18-piece pattern that I had labored over for months and quickly
sketched a pattern in three pieces, like a Vivaldi violin concerto
in three movements. Of course! The only shape exquisite enough
to carry God's scroll would bear the same name as the rarest jewel
-- a diamond. I reached for my mat which, at the time, was leaning
against the wall and serving as a perch for one of my curious
cats, and measured its circumference and length. After sizing
the pattern, I carefully cut it out and wrapped it around the
mat. I then realized one of the rarest achievements -- perfection.
The diamond wrapped snuggly around the mat like the arms of a
protective lover and opened like the petal of a lotus flower.