We’ve been practicing together at home for over a year now! You’ve probably settled into a groove after trying 2 or 3 spots in your home,
and maybe you know where to put your phone or tablet so you can be present for the group experience while being seen by your guide. We’ll apply some of the niyamas (“do things that increase the good in your life”) to bring the feeling of a spring breeze to your home yoga space.
During this time of Spring renewal, bring saucha, svadyaya and tapas into your home practice space. You’ll bless it with yoga practice mojo for all the years to come. Even after returning to the studio, you’ll have a corner or a wall that will always call you to practice, regardless of other people’s schedules, travel time or funds.
Saucha: cleanliness, order, simplicity. Relative to your yoga practice space: use one practice time a week, or part of every one, to mindfully sweep or vacuum your spot and make this your practice. Known as samu in zendos, physical cleaning meditation usually happens after morning practice and consists in one task for each person. You could engage in samu once a week and tidy your props, clean the floor and your mat, open a window and dust, change your flowers. Or you could choose one task a day. The quality of what you see effects the quality of your attention and the ease with which your mind settles. Keeping a simple, uncluttered space can make it both inviting and easy to come to practice. The quiet peace of samu can carry over easily into the rest of your day.
Svadyaya: study of the self, study for one’s self. Carefully selecting all and only the props that bring you the most ease and joy can help you understand your own preferences and needs. Selecting a text that provokes meaningful reflection and placing it in your yoga space can help inspire you and give you a reason to bring your morning cuppa here, creating a bridge between your mundane rituals and your yoga and meditation practice. Some questions to consider:
- How does this space make me feel?
- What one thing could I add to mark it as an honored location in my home? Ideas include art, portrait, flower, candle, rock or other meaningful point of focus.
- What one prop would expand my comfort and possibilities in practice?
- Do you have outdoor space where you could sometimes practice?
Tapas: fire, ferocity, discipline. Fire always requires containment. Discipline is most successful when it arises from realization of desire and is softened by svadyaya and ahimsa (non-violence, really a yama ;).
- Are there ways of arranging the rest of your room that would allow you to focus more during the time you set aside for yoga practice? Try stacking books rather than leaving them open and scattered; putting toys in a basket.
- Can the television be draped to make its presence a choice?
- Would leaving your meditation cushion visible on a shelf make it easier to choose sitting in meditation before or instead of an Ink Master marathon?
If you’re looking for just the right space:
- Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you’re lucky enough to have a room you can set aside, even lots of the time, where you can close the door and create a space away, then great — own that! Maybe it’s a spare room, in which case, scope out spots that would do when company comes to stay. Not possible? You’re in really good company! Look for a wall or a corner where you could clear the furniture and art for a couple of feet — about as wide as your yoga mat at the least. This could be the space between your bed and a wall, or a corner of a room, a spot between 2 book shelves or the end of a hallway. Start with what you have. Practice there and notice how you feel (svadyaya, self-study). As you deepen your connection to Home Yoga Practice (HYP) you’ll start to see ways you could move this piece of furniture a few inches that way and open up a nook. There is no perfect place. Only practice.
- Consider both in and outdoor spaces. Being able to practice under
- the sky brings a whole different context to balance and to feeling your body in space. Having an option is often refreshing! In outdoor spaces you often have more options for where you rest your gaze, requiring a certain discipline (tapas) in reminding yourself that where your eyes rest will effect the quality of your mind and the depth of your breath.
- Contain your yoga kit. Choose a box or basket into which props go after practice to keep things tidy (saucha) and handy at the same time. Most of us have to carve a nook out of a space we share with others, so being able to contain the yoga paraphernalia when it’s time for Netflix and chill is just good manners!
Some common issues and ideas for how to transform them:
- Carpet — the yogi’s balance buddy! Depending on the pile of the carpet and the thickness of your mat, this can get really old! Short of re-flooring an entire room, there are some relatively low cost and accessible tweaks that can get you back on even footing.
- Buy a thinner mat — consider cork. When we moved into our current home, the room that made sense for my home yoga studio had carpet. I didn’t give it a second though until I rolled out my oldest yoga friend, my Manduka Pro thick black mat. Holy wobble bat-man! While adjusting to wobbly conditions can help strengthen some stabilizer muscles, a constantly squishy surface is just plain annoying. I landed on a cork mat that had just the right amount of stiffness and suppleness to give me a firm ground for practice.
- Have a piece of plywood cut to the size of your mat. This is usually a less expensive piece of lumber and a good lumber yard can do this for you. Having it just the size of your mat makes it less obtrusive and gives you just the stability you may be longing for.
- Small spaces — check out “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” above. For the first many years I lived in Albuquerque, I rented an adorable 500 square foot studio with amazing light, a garden and radiant brick floor heating. In that 500 feet I slept, cooked, bathed, recreated, wrote and yogaed with my 3–4 dogs. You really can have a full practice with just 6x4 feet, depending on your height. AND once you’ve established your first space and use it, you’ll start to notice little ways you can move this a little to the left, angle the futon, and voila! More/more usable space!
- Keep your eyes peeled for strips of grass or sand in your area where you could unroll a yoga mat in peace and give yourself options. It could be a park or a neighbor’s back yard, a strip of your pocket garden or the side of your driveway with a great view of sunrise. I have a friend who used to yoga (and sunbathe!) on his roof!
- You may want to alter some of your habits or guide’s instructions. If you’re used to opening your arms to the sides to move to forward fold, consider drawing your hands down through midline. Use cactus arms instead of reaching out in twists.
- Shared spaces — this gets a little trickier and can require some “you scratch my back I’ll be easier to live with” negotiation ;). Perhaps you create a tiny outdoor sitting space where your companions can go for a cuppa and serene work or youtube consumption space. Or maybe a brisk walk would benefit them while you yoga. Or maybe it’s as simple as their desk turned toward a window a pair of earbuds.
Finally, share your yoga space! Whether it’s a mini-remodel that makes you feel like practicing or you’re overwhelmed with how to make it work, you can share your pics of your home yoga space with us and we’ll suggest if you ask or celebrate your space! Post on Instagram or Facebook, tagging @BadlandsHealingYoga with #HomeYogaSpace. Let us know whether you want ideas or high fives -or both!