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How to set up a yoga or meditation home practice space you’ll love.

Thinking about making a home yoga or meditation space? Great! You’re not alone! But where to start…

If you’ve ever taken a yoga or meditation class in a busy studio, you might easily recall the experience of practicing in that space. You walk into the room and are immediately greeted by the delicate fragrance of lavender and the calming sounds of sacred chants. The floorspace has been carefully set up with a symmetrical arrangement of colourful mats. There are bolsters, blankets and other props just waiting to support you in your personal transformation. You glance around the room, aglow with Himalayan salt lamps and are comforted by the presence of other students lying or sitting quietly, waiting for class to begin. You see a spot left and silently claim it as yours. For the next 75 minutes you know this will be your haven of peace and possibility. You are so looking forward to the experience…

Finding your space.

While it’s true that the space that you practice in can help to get you in the mood and can influence your desire to return to the mat, it’s really your inner space that has the most influence over your experience. Think about that moment in shavasana where your body is completely relaxed and you have surrendered the chaotic chatter of the mind to the soft ebb and flow of your breathing. You are still awake and aware that you are in a class full of people, but your consciousness is focused inward and you find yourself in a space where there is no space…only being. It is this feeling that brings us bliss.

So, now with more opportunities to practice yoga and meditation online, wouldn’t it be great if you could create a space in your own home where you could find this bliss? “IMPOSSIBLE!”, you say. Well, here are a few tips and tricks to help you shift your paradigm and to design a nook that inspires you to evolve your home practice.

You don’t need a big space, you just need a good space!

As I mentioned earlier, there are different types of spaces. The first to consider is of course, physical space. Even if you are living in a small studio apartment, really all you need is room to lay down a yoga mat and to open your arms out to the side. So, for the average person that’s no more than a 6×6 ft square…probably less. If you need to move a table or the couch, then do it.

Although it doesn’t occupy any tangible space, there is the noise factor to consider. Is your home is a-buzz with the sounds of everybody else’s life…you know, kids, pets, Sunday afternoon Spaghetti Westerns playing on the flat screen? Or, are you within earshot of the neighbour’s do-it-yourself project? (My personal favourite was the Harley-Davidson restoration initiative!) Perhaps you live on the same street as a local trucking company or near a train route. If this sounds familiar, then I’ve got you. Solution: Earbuds. If you’re taking an online class then they’re essential for feeling like you’re in the room with the teacher and if you’re doing an unguided practice then you can listen to your chill-out playlist. They stay in place much better than a headset and will allow you to practice most postures comfortably.

Although it goes against the grain of most yogic teachings, when it comes to noise and distractions, if you can’t yet calm the fluctuations of your mind (citta vritti nirodha)…Just block them out! And of course, set your phone to silent mode!

There’s no place like home…

Another spatial aspect to consider is the distance you have to travel to get to your place of practice. Many well-intentioned people sign up for wellness programs and make every effort to get to class on time…at first. But as time goes on, and unexpected events, schedule changes or longer than usual commutes get in the way. Making it to the studio can become more stress than joy and so naturally enthusiasm wanes. It becomes more difficult to stay motivated.

The beauty of home-practice is that you save a lot of time, energy and money that would otherwise be spent traveling. In removing that obstacle you are more likely to cultivate a consistent practice, and darlings… that is where the magic happens! Even if you only practice for one minute a day, if you do it every day you will see progress and you will likely find ways to make more time… over time. The key to a successful practice is to make it a habit.

Get creative.

Now, if you want to all the comforts of the studio environment in your own home, that is easy to do. Get a new yoga mat and treat yourself to a few props like a buckwheat hull-filled neck bolster or a soothing lavender eye-pillow. There’s no lack of online stores that sell yoga gear and accessories for every need and every taste.

If you’re on a tight budget, then very likely with a little creativity and resourcefulness you can equip yourself with things you already have in your home. Almost everyone has a blanket and a few cushions. You can easily roll a blanket in a number of different ways to create a bolster for under your knees or add a layer of support in seated forward bends. Make your own weighted sac with a bag of rice to get the most out of your restorative postures. (Did you know relaxation and creativity go hand-in-hand? In fact, it’s much easier to access your creative potential when you’re calm than when you’re stressed.)

Make it personal!

If you’re the crafty type you could really have some fun making your own props! Taking the time to make your own props also adds a layer of meaning and intention to your practice. It truly personalizes your space.

Whether its your handiwork or someone else’s, add some vibe to your practice corner with a funky tapestry or some inspirational art. You don’t have to have a buddha hanging on every wall to feel Zen. Just find something that resonates with you. Make it personal. If wall space is limited, another way to elevate the frequency of your sacred corner is to add a few prisms, crystals or gem stones. Place them where they catch the light and you’ll bring their healing energy to your practice.

Get in the mood…

Have some fun romancing your space with some lovely, scented candles or freshly cut flowers. A nice scent can fill a room in no time. Interestingly, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes smell is also linked to our emotions and memory. Smells can bring us instantly back to a moment in time and can create a strong association with a person or place. Perfume manufacturers know this and profit from this connection.

You too can benefit from this bit of brain science by adding your favourite scent to your Zen den. Even if sometimes it’s hard to get motivated, you know how good you always feel after you’ve done your practice and you will begin to associate this fragrance with that feeling. You’ll create an olfactory impulse that will entice you back to your space and back to your practice.

If you like incense then pick up some classic Nag Champa and use that scent to trigger your mind into saying, “Ah…this means it’s time to be good to myself!” Burning sage is a traditional way to purify a space before you begin your practice and it helps to clear away residual odours and bad vibes! If a smokey ambiance isn’t your thing, then an aromatherapy diffuser and a soothing or uplifting essential oil can be just the trick for opening up your senses and getting you in the mood for your self-care practice.

Make it a ritual.

In essence, what you’re looking to achieve, is a space to hold a happy ritual. Getting on your mat everyday is a ritual in self-care. To invoke your ritual you need a place to receive its energy, inwardly and outwardly. Fortunately, this can be easily done. Even if you just light a candle, sit on a meditation cushion and bring awareness to your breath…repeating these steps daily will create a ritual that supports your intention to practice and nurtures a healthier relationship with self.

Reflect on what you bring to your space.

Beyond the physical space that surrounds you… or the space that you inhabit, there is the space that inhabits you. I’m talking about headspace or mindset. Every morning when you wake up take a moment to connect with your breath (it’s usually pretty slow and rhythmic at this time) and set your intention to practice. Visualize yourself enjoying your home practice and mentally rehearse a posture you have found challenging. See your desired outcome before you even approach the mat. Set yourself up for success.

Another dimension of inner space is heart space. Remember how you felt after an awesome practice and hold that elevated emotion in your heart centre along with your intention to be good to yourself. Aligning your intention with a strong positive feeling is very powerful and will help you manifest what you want for yourself. If you want to learn more about this, a great read is, ‘Becoming Supernatural’ by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

Create a healing space.

Finally, creating a home practice space sometimes means setting personal boundaries with the people and pets who share your home. It’s not always easy, but in fact it is an act of self-love to request that others respect your needs. Although there may be some resistance at first, your family will learn and grow from your example…creating a healing space.

Of course there will be days when despite your best efforts things don’t go as planned, but what is most important is to be in the flow of life and be open to outcome. Make space for acceptance, patience, compassion and celebrate small successes every day. This is the home practice space that will receive you with open arms. This is the space you will love.

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