Before there were yoga mats, mystics and yogis used animal skins not only as a surface on which to sit, but a surface to pray and practice meditation. For one that does not know, one would think that an animal skin is primitive. But as with any tool, intention can turn an ordinary object into a sacred one.
The use of a sheepskin is both practical and spiritual: an animal skin provides a barrier between your body and the surface on which you are sitting but it also provides a barrier to the earth's magnetic field. The earth's core pulls your subtle energy down making sitting in meditation for long periods of time draining. Using a sheep skin serves as a barrier facilitating the rising of the Kundalini energy through the higher chakras expanding and strengthening the aura.
When we use the skin as a spiritual tool, we liberate the animal's soul as we work to liberate our own. There is an exchange that occurs with every sentient being, (living being of animal, vegetable, human consciousness), we come in contact with. In regards to the use of a sheepskin for a spiritual practice, the animal skin absorbs your subtle energy, the vibration of your mantras and projections, becoming a fortifying tool that can be used when you are ill, in need of protection and/or fortification.
There are vegans that would argue against the use of an animal skin and opt for the use of a wool blanket, or mat, to minimize the earth's pull. But in my opinion, acknowledging this exchange between the living and the dead and the cyclical nature of life is a vital part of one's spiritual practice. We practice to liberate our own soul, preparing our selves for our own transition, all the while assisting our ancestors and our beloveds.
In the collective unconscious, and as an archetypal symbol, sheep and lambs are symbolic of "the sacrifice" one makes when one is in service of the One. This exchange is portrayed and celebrated in Abrahamic traditions of the Jews, Christians, Muslims and also in religious practices of the African diaspora. The use of a sheep skin is entirely individual and a matter of perspective. As a rule of thumb, as you find your way along the spiritual path, always do what resonates in your heart. A heart with sincere intention will never be led astray.
- Mama Luz