So you want to do a good thing for yourself, your wellness, your body and your mind and practice yoga at home. You’re ready to go… now what?
Maybe you live in a mansion with a ton of extra rooms and you can have your own home studio. In that case, I’m coming over! But if you’re like me, you probably are struggling to even think of a yoga mat’s worth of space you can claim in your crowded, noisy house.
Let’s talk about some ways to call dibs on some space, and keep your home practice spot yours.
Treat this as a home improvement project
Set aside time to dream up and construct your home practice spot. Put it on your calendar, schedule an afternoon or an evening and dedicate it to this. That might sound extreme (“Hey lady, I’m just planning to roll out my yoga mat”) but honestly, it might make the difference between getting on your mat and practicing and forgetting that your yoga practice even exists. That sounds like hyperbole but I swear it’s not. I have experienced it myself. Set yourself up for success by preparing in this way.
A place for everything and everything in its place
An adaptive yoga practice means props. Lots of props. I used to have all mine in a large pile in the corner of my guest room. This meant that I could never find anything AND I wouldn’t want to even go into the room because it looked like a huge mess.
The ideal situation is that you have a storage area for your props. Everything should have its own little home. For me, I have blocks, bolsters, straps, mobility props like foam rollers and balls, sandbags, eye pillows, a yoga wheel. Perhaps my situation is a bit extreme, but if you do this for any length of time, you’ll start amassing props.
So let’s talk storage. You don’t need to spend a bunch of money here unless that’s something that you want to do. Survey your house. Is there some shelf, basket, chest, box that you could repurpose?
Have you been wanting to clean out that closet anyway? Can you purge, consolidate, and reuse empty storage containers?
You don’t need to spend money here – Even a sturdy cardboard box will work. Go wild, decoupage the outside or paint it with colorful designs.
Can’t find anything around the house? Ask your friends if they have a shelf, sturdy box, or basket laying around they don’t need. Check Craigslist, scour yard sales.
Stake your claim
Here’s the hard part. You need to claim a permanent mat space in your house. I know space is already at a premium if you’re like me, but having a space to roll out your mat and leave it – visible all the time – absolutely will make the difference between you practicing or not.
Unless you live alone or with an immaculate family who doesn’t produce dirt – your mat is gonna get dirty. Mine used to be covered in little paw prints when I still had a dog. Try not to get too worried about it. Your mat is in your house, not a yoga studio with a cleaning staff!
If you have a room where you can shut the door, use that room. Can you rearrange some furniture to make more space? Get creative. Thinking about it like a home improvement project really helped me here.
Create a little sacred space
Bring some beauty into the area by your yoga mat. Can you face in the direction of a window with a view you love? Maybe there’s some artwork you can put on a nearby wall. If you have a desk or low table, decorate it with things that are visually pleasing to you or that evoke good vibes – pictures of family or friends, candles or incense, beautiful objects that you love.
Again, this is not a call to spend a bunch of money. Some of my favorite objects are things I find in nature – feathers, rocks, acorns. To me, nature signifies peace and being in my body in a positive way, so when I see these objects they make me feel good. Find something that triggers positive emotions in you, and gather those things into your yoga space.
Use your senses to set the mood
Another component of sacred space for me is ritual. Signifying a start and an end to your practice can be a way to create mental space, even if physical space is limited. A way to create ambiance and set the mood. You can use your senses to create a mood.
Sight. Are you in front of a bright window? Or do you want low lighting, curtains drawn, and candles?
Hearing. Starting and ending the practice with sound (the sound of “om”, a chime, a piece of music you like) can be a nice opener and closer and set aside the space for your practice.
Smell. I love burning incense or rubbing a drop or two of essential oil between my hands and lifting it up to my face to take a big breath in. Something about the smell makes me think “ok, yoga time” and again – sets aside space for the practice.
Touch. Are you wearing something comfortable that’s pleasing against your skin? Do you have a cushion or bolster to sit on in seated positions, or if you want to practice breathwork or meditation? If your mat is on a hard floor, do you need to double up with a second mat to provide some cushion?
Set aside uninterrupted time
This is probably the biggest struggle for most people. We have kids, a job, a partner, pets who want to climb all over us… but this is so crucial. Yoga practice will strengthen your body and your mind, and prepare you to go out and put your good into the world. Even 5 minutes is “worth it” and totally counts.
If kids are the issue, can you make a deal with your partner to take them out to play for 10 minutes? Can you do this during bathtime a few nights a week and have your partner handle that? Can you practice for 5-10 minutes before or after the kids get up?
If it’s demands on your time from outside the house – can you make a deal with yourself? Turn off your phone and put it outside the room. If you feel nervous, you can always set a timer to ensure that you won’t lose track of time (or fall asleep in savasana, which is probably more likely!). I assure you that even the most powerful people in the world set aside time for movement and nourishment, and you can too.
Close the door if you have one. Make an announcement to other people in the house that this is yoga time and you’ll be out in a few minutes.
You have the right to take up space and set aside time for yourself. This does not make you selfish or lazy. This is crucial to your survival as a human. If you aren’t balanced and at peace, you’re going to be worthless to everyone else. Claim the space and time to get this done.
Now it’s time to practice. Fire up your laptop, tablet, or phone, and log in to Body Positive Yoga. If you’re a member, you’ve got lots of different lengths of practices to choose from – from 5 minutes to a full hour. Check in with your body – what do you need right now? Feeling frazzled and out of control? Maybe some restorative yoga is the way to go. Feeling sluggish? Pick something more challenging. Not sure what you need? Grounding or mindfulness practices are helpful. Just pick something and get started.
Taking time to set yourself up for success and create an environment where you can practice will help you to become more consistent. Making this a regular part of your life will help you on and off the mat. You’ll become more physically fluent in your body, your mind will become stronger, and you’ll discover deeper and more interesting parts of yourself.
Create the space to make that happen. You deserve it.