Whether you are working with a space slightly larger than a mat or the most expansive room in your house, making physical space at home for your mediation, yoga practice – or simply honoring objects that have deep meaning — can have a profound effect on your life.
In addition to saving precision time otherwise used in getting to a studio, a designated practice area can also help you cultivate awareness.
Creating a practice or ritual in the same spot day after day will likely create shifts – of noticing how the light is different, how your body feels on different days, or how your mind greets the same space (or objects) with new thoughts.
Here four personal practice spaces to inspire you…
An Artistic Space for Practice and Purpose
Bernadette Pace’s basement was originally used as her art studio. When she set aside some of the space for her yoga mat, she found something magical happening: her drawing and painting together with practicing yoga, meditation and Reiki inspired her to more purposefully create.
“I love having my artwork displayed on the walls and I love changing the art frequently. As I practice and go within, I sometimes acknowledge those images that may come and go with my focus. Sometimes the colors are the focus, sometimes the form — and sometimes I focus solely on the fact that this space soothes me.”
TIP: If you are bringing together your practice with purpose, you may want to create an option in which one might not distract from the other. Bernadette has hung lightweight white drapes so that she has the option to divide the busy activities of her graphics and painting studio so as not to distract from a precious practice.
Creating Peace & Tranquility in a Multi-Purpose Space
Natalie Donnel selected her guest room as her personal practice space because it was is the most secluded room in the house, as well as the less trafficked.
In addition to the room serving as a multi-purpose place, so does the furniture: Natalie converted her desk (simply by covering it with cloth) into a mantel, where she houses her stone collection, incense, essential oils/diffuser – and other sacred items.
“The result is a room in which I enter and immediately feel my breath deepening and my mind quieting.”
While Natalie does need to convert the space for houseguests, she also appreciates the exercise of putting everything back after visitors have left.
TIP: If you create a multi-purpose room, think about which items in the room might also serve multi-purposes. By putting a cloth on her desk, Natalie’s desk note only serves as a mantel/alter, but also house her yoga props and books underneath.
Finding a Nurturing Space in the Outdoors
Sarah Vee and her husband share a one-bedroom cabin on the South Fork of the American River (Northern California), which afforded little room for a regular practice space of any kind.
One afternoon, while leveling a space outside to sleep on warm summer nights, Sarah discovered her personal yoga practice space was right in front of her.
Using some scrap plywood, she created a deck. And then planted some lavender for soothing aroma and ambiance.
“The space is simple, but all I need to practice is a flat space and dedication. The sound of the river, geese and birds is all a bonus.”
TIP: Don’t be afraid to put a little elbow grease into creating your sacred place: Sarah had to move a lot of rocks to create a level space but as a result, she feels a deeper connection to the space because it reminds her of her dedication to her practice.
An Adorning Mantel for Daily Ritual
Having just moved from Ecuador to San Francisco, it was important for Alyssa Hathaway to create a sacred space in her one-bedroom apartment that would make it feel like home. She and her husband choose a brightly lit windowsill to put her special treasures and keepsakes because it is the last space they see before walking out the door and the first thing they see upon entering.
“It’s an ideal space to honor photos of family, gurus or objects that have deep meaning. A little bow or a glance upon entering or leaving is a heartwarming experience and offers up a feeling of protection. The objects emanate warmth, love, and security.”
What is on Alyssa’s mantel at the moment?
- A photo of Jivamukti Yoga founder, Sharon Gannon
- Two tiny wooden animals with little wobbly heads that I purchased for my husband at the Mexican Fine Arts Museum in Chicago when we were still dating. We were long distance for about 6 months while he conducted a medical assignment in the Amazon. I brought these to him during my first trip to Ecuador.
- “Carrots” purchased at a quirky shop in Sausalito when my mom was visiting over Christmas. They serve as a reminder to treat the body as a temple.
- Sage for clearing energy
- Incense from Muji
- Several crystals — I believe this one is for prosperity.
- A glass ladybug that I received from my mom. She called me “ladybug” when I was a little girl.
- Reiki-infused candle
TIP: If you create an altar in your sacred space, continue to add objects that bring deeper meaning, inspiration and sacredness to the space. “My husband is currently studying Traditional Chinese Medicine and he loves to swim. The other day we were eating sushi and were served fortune cookies at the end. Though perplexed by fortune cookies being served at a Japanese restaurant, we enjoyed the ritual of opening the cookies, and sure enough, he received a fortune that was a lesson on how to say the word “swimming” in Chinese. My husband just left it on the table but this was an example of synchronicity at it’s finest. I took it as a divine sign indicating that Juan is on the right path, and therefore, tucked it in my wallet and added to the altar the next day.”
Regardless of where you choose your space, make sure you clarify your intention for the area—and take a judicious approach to decorating it. You might put your mat in front of a window shaded by a tree to remind yourself to stay connected with the seasons and leave the rest of the space empty, free of distractions. Enjoy noticing!