Developing a Home Practice: Preparation

Setting Up Your Space

For many of us space is at a premium in our homes, but if you are going to practice regularly, you are going to need to designate a space for your practice, if for no other reason than having all your yoga equipment readily at hand. If you have to go around hunting down your various accoutrements every day, I can almost guarantee you that your practice will last maybe a week at best. No matter which school of yoga you follow, the technologies of transformation provided by yoga are useless unless you do them regularly, even for just a few minutes each day. Your yoga corner can be just that, nothing more than a corner, with the option to move the furniture around if necessary. I live in a very small studio apartment in Manhattan, New York. I have my personal mountain of props on a wheeled cart under the window in the corner behind the sofa. There is just enough room for me to spread out and do Shavasana (Corpse Pose) on the mat and a bit of wall space to use as a prop. It’s the one part of the room that I am meticulous about keeping neat and tidy (much to the amusement of my friends). If I’m being adventurous and I need to spread out, or if I have a friend over to practice, I can move the sofa out of the way for more room. A whole room in which to do your yoga isn’t necessary, though if you have the space, go for it. A friend of mine has converted her spare bedroom into a beautiful yoga studio. Here are some guidelines to think about:

    • Find an area in your home that is accessible and easy to keep tidy.

    • Your yoga area should be light and airy.

    • If you are near a window, make sure there is adequate blind coverage. Aside from scaring the neighbors when you’re doing your head stand, it is best not to practice in direct sunlight, especially if the sun is particularly strong. As nice as the idea of practicing outside in the sun may be, the heat and sunlight can be dehydrating. And you don’t want to get sunburned.

    • Organize your props so that they are readily available and easily accessible. There is nothing worse than getting into a pose and realizing you really need that block that is propping up a precarious stack of books halfway across the room.

    • Dress your yoga area in a way that is pleasing and conducive to an introspective frame of mind. This will have a lot to do with your personal taste. For some people pale colors are more restorative than bright colors. Some people like to have plants around, or artwork or spiritual accessories. I find strong colors to be most soothing. I have one wall painted a vibrant orange and I tend to do my poses facing that wall, especially since the kitchen is along the opposite wall. I love plants, but I have black thumbs, so for me the compassionate thing is to not have them around. Luckily there is a woman across the way who keeps the most beautiful garden on her terrace, so I can look at that when I am practicing and be reminded of life and nature. I have a tiny altar in one corner with one or two objects that set the tone. The key is that your area should be non-distracting. Anything that you have around you should bring you back to the reason you are there. The idea is that, eventually, you become so focused on your inner state of being that you could be anywhere. After twelve years of doing yoga, I find I can even practice at the gym with weights clanking and bad music blaring at me without being disturbed.

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