Home practice: create your yoga space in 5 steps
Having said that, I never spent too much time thinking about my "yoga space" at home. I have a space where I leave my mat (in its bag, as I have 2 cats who love scratching), and the singing bowl I brought back from India is on a coffee table. My dharma wheel is hidden under my keyboard with my bolster and my blocks, and my yoga notebook is on a shelf. When I decide to practice a proper vinyasa flow, I usually gather all my props and roll out my mat in the middle of the living room. The rest of the time, my morning home practice lasts no more than 15min, squeezed in the kitchen, with one eye open to watch that Elvis isn’t sneakily trying to eat Bowie’s food.
But since lockdown, I’ve started attending and teaching more classes. I want to support my favourite teachers and studios, and I want to help my friends and colleagues keep sane. My quest for the perfect yoga spot in my flat started from a pretty pragmatic perspective of webcam framing and lightening considerations. I live in London, so it goes without saying that I can’t afford having a dedicated yoga room in my flat. Every time I want to practice, I move furniture around. It became a sort of a pre-yoga ritual which is somewhat meditative.
After trying out a few setups, I realised how much impact the location had on my practice. The place where I practice is a sacred space. This is something I was told in Sampoorna, during my YTT. This is why you take off your shoes before entering a shala. This is why you keep quiet as soon as you push the door of the studio. Personally, my mat is the best representation of this sacred space. As soon as I step on it, I feel better, I feel quiet, I feel focused inwards. I feel safe. But if you’re yet to feel this intimate relationship with your mat, preparing your yoga space will certainly help you.
Keep it clean
Sauca also applies to the place you live in, and the space you practice in. Nobody wants to hold a chaturanga 10cm away from a pile of dust! But beyond keeping the space clean, make sure that you also keep it uncluttered. As in your yoga practice (and in your yogic life), let go of everything that doesn’t serve you. Everything which isn’t necessary. I always start preparing my yoga space with removing chairs and side tables, before using the vacuum cleaner. That way I have a clean and clear space, free from distractions.
Mind the light
From all the corners of my flat that I’ve tried practicing in, my favourite spot is by far the one next to the window. In this corner, my walls are white, and the window lets all the light shine into the living room. The brightness helps a lot, so I’d recommend avoiding areas of your flat where your walls or furniture are darker. I live on the 9th floor of a council building, and from my window I can see a nice corner of grass, surrounded by the city lights. I don’t have a garden, but because I’m quite high up, the uncluttered view - quite fantastic in a busy city like London - is definitely helping to clear my mind.
Make it yours
Your yoga space should be uncluttered to avoid distractions, however it’s important for you to feel safe there. To feel like it’s your space, it’s personal to you. Customise it! Some people make their own altar, or bring religious pictures of hindu gods. Some like to burn incense - the smell of it always takes me back to the memory of some classes or teachers. I enjoy it, but it’s not for everyone, especially if you’re suffering from asthma. I personally like quite simple « talismans » : a plant - to keep me connected to nature and keep me grounded, my singing bowl - that always reminds me of the deep relaxation procured by its vibrations, and my message board - where I like displaying quotes or mantras. Music is also very important to me and helps me get « in the zone » so I have a speaker nearby and my yoga playlists ready.
Get your props handy
Since I’m now practicing in my yoga space every day, I’ve had to change the place I usually store my props so they’re always around. My bolster is now under the couch, and I’ve gathered my blocks, strap and notebook on a small table next to my couch. When it’s time to practice, I just have to put them on the floor, and move the table away. It’s important to have them around when you practice as it’s always quite disruptive to step off your mat to go and get them in the middle of an asana. When I teach, I usually remind my students of the props I’m encouraging them to use depending on the postures I have planned in my sequence.
Roll out your mat
Last but not least, king of the yoga space: the yoga mat. I think the quality of a yoga mat can really impact a practice. As you’re practicing at home, I recommend you choose at least a 4.5mm mat. They are usually heavier (so not designed to travel) , but it will be way more comfortable for your joints, especially your knees and wrists. I’d also recommend choosing a non slippery mat - it can be pretty frustrating to practice on a slippery surface, and even dangerous. And finally, if like me you’re sensitive to colours, I’d recommend picking a mat whose colour resonates with you. My current mat is red, which is my favourite colour, and every time I practice on it I feel energised and it brightens my mood.