Since the pandemic, many of you are choosing to practice at home. In fact, even if you attend studio classes, I encourage you to develop a home practice to get the most benefit from the art and science of Yoga.
How can you best set up a home practice space that supports you in your practice?
The first thing you need is space. You don’t need a lot of space, but you do need to be able to move. Ideally, you want space for your yoga mat, if you have one, or a size as big as a mat, with extra room around it to stretch your arms and legs. If you don’t own a mat, a non-slip carpet will do!
It’s also helpful to have wall space, as an empty wall makes a great prop for things like Adho Mukha Savanasana (Downward-facing Dog) at the wall, or Viparita Karani (legs up the wall). Many of the balancing postures we learn can be done with the support of the wall, especially as you are first learning the postures or if you have challenges with your balance.
A chair can also be a great prop, and very inexpensive. I have a metal chair I purchased at the local hardware store for about $10.00. A chair without arms is best, unless you need arm support to get up and down. This is not necessary unless you are specifically doing chair yoga, but it can be helpful, again for balancing postures.
Other props include blocks, blankets and a strap. Again, none of these are necessary to practice yoga, but can be helpful in modifying postures for your body. If you don’t have them, you can find something similar in your home. For example, a sturdy book or stack of books can be used in place of a block; a belt or dog leash for a strap, and any blanket or cushion can be used for sitting up higher on the floor.
Sometimes, we may use bolsters in restorative yoga, but a sturdy pillow or pillows can be used for this, or even a stack of blankets. Check out this short video I created on how to set up for restorative classes at home here: https://www.facebook.com/ShiningWatersYoga/videos/1185000165274894
So, now you’ve got your space and your props, what else do you need? If you want to go further in making the space conducive for your practice, here are some other ingredients you can add!
1) quiet – this will help you pay attention better to your teacher and to the cues in your own body.
2) color – perhaps add colors that you find soothing or energizing depending on what you need – this could be in décor or in what you wear to your practice.
3) sound – for copyright reasons, I do not use music in my virtual classes. If you like to have sound, you could play some calming music or soundscapes like ocean, rain or nature sounds.
4) scents – a candle or diffuser is a nice accent if you like scent. If you choose a candle, make sure it’s something like a jar candle that won’t spill over and possibly create a fire hazard. If you like essential oil blends, I highly recommend this local vendor in Baltimore: https://www.pspotions.com/
5) light – avoid bright lights if possible. Natural light is most conducive, or soft lighting. Again, you could use a colored bulb or scarf over a lamp to create a specific atmosphere if you so desire.
6) other possibilities – some people like to smudge their area before practicing to absorb negative energy and promote positivity – this is mostly a cultural choice. I do not recommend purchasing plants or resins from plants that are endangered. If you choose to smudge, please be aware of what you are using and where it came from. Another way to purify your space is to add a few plants. Plants naturally clear the air and serve as a reminder of our connection to all life as we practice. Finally, some people like to have pictures of their personal “guru” or teacher, or of their own ancestors in the room where they practice. Again, this is a personal choice.
It’s important to remember that none of this is really necessary – it just helps you personalize your space, and may make it more relaxing – or feel like a special “safe space”. Certainly, some of the colors, sounds and scents can evoke certain feelings and sensations. Make sure they enhance and do not detract from your practice.
Remember, all you really need to practice is You! Arrive with a sense of curiousity and non-judgement and allow your practice to unfold, just as it is.
In love and peace,
(Photo by Ralph (Ravi) Kayden)