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When it comes to our Home Practice Space, your space should be SELFish. It's for your use, and it's also so that you can connect more deepen to your SELF. Everyone around us benefits when we spend time connecting with our Self in a mindful way.
So now that you're embracing taking time to 'ish your Self with a beautiful home practice space, here are my tips from the years I've spent building out Yoga studios and my best practices that you an adopt at home.
5. Establish Your Sacred Space.
Remember that you're setting up your space for (hopefully) daily use. So designating the boundaries of that space is very important, as is selecting an anchor for the space.
Inside of the yoga studios we think about the established space in group and individual levels. On a group level we spend a lot of time determining the configuration of the room. This literally means how people are going to use the floor. On an individual level it comes down to what types of mats and cushions we have for shared props. We NEVER skim on cheap rental mats or props - we offer high quality surfaces to practice and sit on.
The same should be true for your home space. Establish the boundary of the space AND also honor your space by sitting on and practicing on quality materials.
Here's my list of some of my favorite home practice products such as yoga bolsters and yoga mats - and of course I always recommend The Practice Mat.
4. Find your Light.
Lighting in a space is vital. Too harsh and you will avoid it. Too dim and it will feel like a cave. I opt for diffused lighting whenever possible - near a window with layers of light that I can adjust.
Layered lighting is something that goes into every space I've built out. Whenever possible it starts with how the space interacts with natural light. When that space, by chance or through an intentional build out, does not have natural light then I consider what the next main source of light will be and I ensure that source is dimmable - often this is through a track or some sort of overhead lights.) From there I bring in additional layers (think lamps, sconces, etc.)
In a home setting look at how your space plays with light. If you are near a window that gets too hot or too bright consider layering a shear curtain over the window to offer some control. Then bring in options for brighter practices like using the overhead lighting or bright lamps, as well as accent lighting that is purposefully dimmer if you want to set yourself up for a dimly lit meditation or savasana.
3. Consider Your Nose.
In Yoga it is a practice to master the external senses and to learn how to go beyond their influence - this is known as Pratyhara (also known as sense mastery or withdrawal from senses). But that doesn't mean you should intentionally sabotage yourself with a space that isn't appealing to the senses.
In the studio one of the primary senses we consider is smell. Smell is an ancient sense which is linked in real ways to our survival instincts. Smell is also intimately connected to memory and emotion. When an experience smells good it's catalogued as such in our brain, or if we have a fantastic experience with something we might remember the smell and think on it fondly. Conversely if a piece of food smells bad we have alerts in our brain that let us know we might be biting into something that will make us sick. This is one of the reasons we always have a candle burning or a stick of incense. The smell immediately relates to the experience we have cultivated and seek to continue to cultivate in the space. In fact it is something that people comment on all the time. "I love the way it smells when I walk in." Or, "As soon as I walk in I smell the room and feel more relaxed."
You can adopt the same technique in your own home by practicing in a space that is free of food or other household smells. And you can amplify your positive association with the space by selecting a candle or an incense that creates in you a positive response. The simple act of lighting a candle to watch the flame flicker or following the dance of smoke from your incense stick can in and of itself become a mindfulness practice. (Check out my Candle Gazing Meditation here.)
2. Bring In Natural Elements.
All of the studio spaces have a lot of plants. Bringing something fresh and natural into a space - especially when that space is actually a lease taken out in a strip mall - can transform the environment from sterile to inviting. Greenery has a soothing effect, and not to mention, plants make the air fresher!
I recommend getting a small house plant in your space. If you have room for a larger indoor tree or plant - go for it! One plant that is relatively easy to grow indoors is Pathos. I have these growing all over my studios and in my home due to their easy-going nature and absolutely beautiful leafy vines.
You can also bring in elements of nature by considering the colors and textures in your space. If the color doesn't exist in nature, give it a second consideration. You might love neon red but it might not be right for the vibe you are establishing for your practice space. Wood tones, and natural wood furniture, soft natural textures like cotton, and inviting and warm designs that remind you of the natural world can instantly bring a calming effect to your space.
1. Keep It Ready.
This last point is, by far, the most important. And this is something that receives a lot of team effort in the studios. After every class there is a ritual of resetting the space for the next group. It offers a literal cleaning, but also an energetic reset. Resetting the space is like a little love-note for the next class, and it ensures that the space is always ready to be of service.
The same wisdom can be applied at home. After each session do no - I REPEAT DO NOT - pack your mat back up or hide all of your supplies away. Instead reset the mat, the meditation cushion, your incense etc so that it is ready for tomorrow's use. Doing this is a an act of service for your future self. The initial rhythm of it may be a little daunting, like committing to putting out your outfit for the next day, or making your bed before work every morning. But once you establish the ritual of resetting your space you will be more likely to use the space and you will have warming feelings about sitting down to move, breathe, and meditate in an environment that has been lovingly cared for and prepared just for you.
Check out some of my favorite home practice finds here.
Hi there! You found me. My name is Julia Marie Lopez. For 20 years I have studied meditation and mindful movement as my primary tools for healing. For the past 10 years I have worked as a wellness coach, yoga teacher, personal trainer, and I am the Founder of Practice Everywhere.