Tips for Home Yoga Practice – Your Space
If you practice yoga at home (or WANT to start a home practice), is your space stopping you from getting on your mat?
There are lots of convenient reasons for practicing yoga at home (it’s faster, cheaper, easier, no driving or parking time, you get to do what YOU want to do, etc.), and yet the physical space can sometimes be limiting.
If you google “home yoga space” (or do a quick search on Pinterest), you’ll probably see all kinds of idyllic and zen-like spaces with hardwood floors, a gorgeous view, plants, maybe a wall mural, pillows and candles.
But it doesn’t have to be so perfect.
I’ve practiced yoga at home for YEARS and have never had a dedicated yoga room (except for one year, and then we had a Swiss exchange student move in with us…and then we moved to California and have small square footage again!).
Here’s the simple three-step process for getting your home practice space established and ready to go so you’ll look forward to getting on your mat at home.
Let’s do it!
Step 1: Find a spot in your house that is big enough for ONE mat and has a view you like
Yep, you heard that right. Not a separate ROOM. Just a space for one mat. That is literally all the space you need.
Most yoga mats are about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide or so. And while it’s great to have more space around you, it’s quite possible to manage with a small space at the foot of your bed or in the space that your coffee table takes up when you slide it out of the way.
When you’re picking your space, consider the view that you’ll have when you’re standing at the top of your mat. It’s absolutely great if you can place yourself in front of a window or a picture or something else that gives you a pleasant and soothing view.
Here’s are some pictures of my home practice space:
I roll my rug out of the way and under my bed, which is easy to do and part of my preparation for my practice (or what I do as I’m setting up for receiving a private student into my home studio here).
That’s it. Nothing too fancy or big. Just enough space to move in.
Step 2: Thoroughly CLEAN your home practice space
Okay, there’s a little bit of work to this one, but it will be worth it!! And whenever there is work, it’s easier when there’s a “spoonful of sugar” to help the medicine go down (coming up in Step 3).
Cleaning your home practice space is a great ritual to take on every 3-6 months. Here’s what I do in my space:
- Unload the bookcases in front of my practice space, declutter, wipe down the shelves, and reorganize
- Vacuum and mop the floor
- Chase down any spider webs on the walls/ceilings
- Clean the nearby mirror
- Wash the windows
- Wipe down baseboards and window sills
- Clean my props throughly (wash blankets and cushion covers, wipe down mat/blocks, etc. I use a yoga mat spray mat of just water and 3 essential oils: Peppermint, Lavender, and Melaluca/Tea Tree Oil)
Deep cleaning work (sauca) is connected to one of the Niyamas (spiritual observances) of the eight-limbed path of yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
You don’t have to be overly astringent about this work. Classically, sauca was about purity and cleanliness. And these are good things.
But I do like Matthew Remski’s interpretation in “Threads of Yoga” of sauca as being about “ecology.”
He translates Yoga Sutra 2.32 (the summary of the niyamas) as “Good relationship to oneself requires ecology, contentment, endurance, learning, and commitment.”
He goes on to say, “As a new translation for sauca, ‘ecology’ transforms a concern for personal purification into a pursuit of self-other and self-world balance. It also socializes the concept of cleanliness to resonate more closely with the homeodynamic model of contemporary wellness practice, with its focus on public hygiene and environmental harmony.”
So consider using eco-friendly cleaning products and methods to do this work in the interest of balance for the WORLD that goes beyond a feeling of sterilization.
As you’re cleaning, clear the clutter. There is a great chapter in the book, “How Yoga Works,” by Geshe Michael Roach called “Next to Godliness” where the main character of this lovely parable-like story that explores the Yoga Sutras talks about sauca.
She says to her student:
“We’ve talked about a number of things you can do form the outside of your body which go down and affect the subtle winds on the insde: things like the yoga poses themselves and breathing in a smooth and conscious way. And there’s this constant interchange going on, you see; this constant interplay of the forces outside and inside of you….A lack of this very basic kind of cleanliness – plain old tidiness – is almost a sure sign that your channels are ‘untidy’ too, deep down inside: the thought-winds are jumbled up.”
Isn’t that motivating? Your outer world affects your INNER world. So set up the landscape well for a smooth experience.
Step 3: Add beauty and meaning
Here’s the sugar!!
Once you’ve cleared the clutter, and done a good cleaning, reward yourself by placing something of meaning or inspiration right where you’ll see it as you practice.
This can be really fun. I love to see what other people choose to place on their altar, if you will. Get creative. What you choose does NOT need to be a yogic statue or anything like that. It just needs to be intentional for YOU.
- A stone or seashell you found on a walk
- Picture of your children or pets or friend or other loved one
- A handwritten note
- A set of mala beads
- A beautiful flower
Think outside the box. And maybe even…DON’T think. Just grab something. You’ll know what to grab and why you’re choosing it. That’s what’s so cool about this part. It only has to have meaning to YOU.
That’s it! You’re done!
Now you can reap the benefits of these tips for home yoga practice space setup in your home in a way that is practical and unobtrusive. Enjoy your new zen spot!