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 daily practice–any kind of personal endeavor, whether it’s mediation, yoga, praying, or journaling–can have a profound effect on your life.
In addition to saving the time that would be spent going to a studio, a designated home practice area can also help you cultivate awareness. Creating a practice or ritual in the same spot day after day will likely create mental shifts: for instance, 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. In addition to fostering creativity and inspiration, the place can just be where you honor objects that have deep meaning in your life, and become a sanctuary where you can rest and feel safe.
Following are four personal practice spaces to inspire you to create your own:
An Artistic Space for Practice & Purpose
Bernadette Pace’s basement originally served as her art studio. When she set aside some of the space for her yoga mat, she found something magical happened: 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, create the option for one not distract from the other. Bernadette has hung lightweight white drapes to separate the busy activities of her graphics and painting studio so as not to distract from a precious practice.
Peace & Tranquility Infuses a Multi-Purpose Space
Natalie Donnel selected her guest room as her personal practice space because it was 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 do some of the items in it. For instance, 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 converts the space back to a guest room 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 serves as storage to house her yoga props and books underneath.
Nurturing a Daily Practice Outdoors
Sarah Vee and her husband share a one-bedroom cabin on the South Fork of the American River (in Northern California), which affords little room for a regular practice space.
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 are 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.
Simplicity Offers 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 their 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 she purchased for her husband at the Mexican Fine Arts Museum in Chicago when they were dating. (They were long distance for about 6 months while he conducted a medical assignment in the Amazon. She brought these to him during her 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
• A glass ladybug that Alyssa received from her mom. (She called her “ladybug” when she 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 each moment.
Also by Kirsten: Benefits of Yoga for Men + Tips to Get Him to Try it