Monday, September 14, 2009

Creating a Space for our "Inner" Practice: Adventure Continues!

Yogi/nis- how goes your Personal Practice Adventure so far? Are you enjoying this process as much as I am? (I hope so! lol). We set our Intentions (One solitary practice a week pour moi) and talked about figuring out what time works best. This week I've decided to have friend yoga on Tuesday, Solitary practice Adventure on Thursday, possible Guerrilla Yoga on Saturday and Global Mala on Sunday (check it out- Worldwide yoga for Peace!). WOOT.

Tonight I thought we could chat about Space.

I have heard that as Western Yogi/nis we are quite spoiled in the ways of the space in which we practice yoga. We prefer quiet, bamboo/cork floored studios, pretty wall hangings, soft spoken instructor, no outside noise or interference, no cell phones or interruptions and LOTS of personal space. I do believe that becoming angry during a class because: someone's cell phone rang, a yogi was coughing, the busy traffic outside was seeping in etc, is somewhat of selfish and non-essential. However, I do find myself expecting a certain level of exterior peace when I pay ridiculous prices. Following that thread, if it's free than I can't be picky and truly; yoga isn't about the space, it's about our Inner Selves and our Sacred Spaces. The idea is to let go.

For that exact reason, practicing in a Free Lulu community class definitely taught me a few things about the angry voices that still remained in my head and just how little physical space you actually need to practice yoga. Instead of being surrounded by yogi/nis who could afford 16$ classes, we were surrounded by new/experienced yogis who came to practice. Together. People who may have never discovered yoga otherwise or who truly needed it. (not to say that more "well-off" individuals don't need yoga, I just figure that there are many people without food, love, shelter and light). Like when you lived in the dorms, your mat ("bed") is YOUR space and swan dives are not necessary to forward fold from mountain. Simply bring your hands together at heart centre, lift them up above your head and fold with your hands together in front of you.

When you consider yoga as being part of your Sacred Space, the Inner You, then the physical
surroundings of your practice no longer remain important. Of course, despite being an "expert" blocker-out-of-sound person (seriously, I studied during Grad school at Cafe Depot coffee shop, Mont Royal & Papineau! in Montreal), sounds and individuals can be distracting and make our Adventure less motivating. Here are some ideas to help carve out a physical space that might begin to reflect your Sacred Space:

Set the Visual Tone

  1. Choose some pretty (not too smelly) candles and votives and light them in front of your mat. Not TOO close as those forward folds might result in some hair singe-edge (trust me, it happened last week... lol).
  2. If you are so inclined, place your favourite Goddess, Buddha, God/symbol near the candles. (my "yoga corner" in BC)
  3. Buy (or make!) a cheap folding divider and place it between you and the rest of the world. This works especially well if you are practicing in an open space concept area (i.e. living room-kitchen) and would like to separate yourself from the rest of the room. In BC I bought a 50$ divider from Superstore (not very eco, I know!) and it served as a divider between my Yoga Space (ahem- dining room) and the island kitchen. Andrew would cook supper on one side and I'd pretend he didn't exist on the other side.
  4. Create a permanent "yoga alter" on a little shelf with candles, yoga statues/religious statues, incense (not too strong as it makes it difficult to breathe during your practice) or personal paintings. Have it tucked away in a corner, to be brought out front and center during your practice.
  5. Bring out larger indoor plants to create a beautiful "green" divider.
  6. Although, technology wouldn't be ideal, but you could put your computer on a beautiful background or inspiring picture.
  7. Move the clock, shut off the TV and turn the computer screen to face away.

Set the Auditory Experience:

  1. Blast Krishna Das to drown out the pressure washer next door (or lawnmower, or kids, or Ninja Warriors lol).
  2. If you have a fountain or water-dealy bring that out (we have a fishtank).
  3. Check out "" and sign up for a free trial. Type in your fav "yoga" artist and it will generate a playlist with songs from other related artists you might like.
  4. Go on Youtube and search for your favourite "yoga" music. Om Namah Shivaya.(my pink yoga/fish room in our fourth place in Vernon)

For myself, the most powerful method to block out the world was through music, even though I prefer to practice in silence. I've listened to Llorca (awesome jazz-house instrumentals), Feist, Tool and the cbc jazz station... and I've found that instrumentals or specific "yoga" music really helps create that "Yes, I am here to practice". Also, one cd of Krishna Das' lasts over an hour... so I can just practice as long as a certain pre-set number of songs. No constantly checking the clock- if there's music than I practice. I've found that only listening to Krishna Das during yoga strengthens that association of Inner readiness to practice.

How do you set your Sacred Space?



  1. Honestly, for me to set up a sacred space, I *close the door*. That is the biggest thing in a house with 5 people .... making an actual barrier and defining my physical space. Even though I am just in my bedroom, when I have it to myself, even for an hour or 90 minutes, that space/time becomes sacred. My family has learned NOT TO DISTURB me during that time (G-d forbid they do!).

    Actually, my personal practice has been great since I started doing it at home - before I was going to classes 3x/week at a community center, but after changes in our lives prevented me from continuing, I have switched to a daily home practice and my yoga practice has grown tremendously! What was a disappointment has turned into a change for positive!

    Your "sacred space" is beautiful! I love your dedicated yoga corner.

  2. I really like what you wrote about creating some space for ourselves. Thanks for sharing.

    Back when I still had a gym membership, it was a mad dash to make it in time for the yoga classes. If I wasn't early enough, especially for instructors who were popular, all the available places would have been taken up (since they limit the no. of members per class to about 30-40 depending on the size of the studio).

    Now, after lapsing for awhile in terms of practice, I'm starting to do yoga again, but in my own home and according to my own schedule. I still miss having an instructor correcting my poses but at least there isn't the sense of madness rushing for a place when all I really needed was a space of my own. :)

  3. Ahhhh, Ninja Warrior!!! Never again! :)

    I mostly hide out in the basement to do yoga. I can do it in our bedroom or in bed, but I have a hard time finding my center and it doesn't feel as satisfying. It was a huge incentive to clean the basement so I had a proper place to practice!

    Usually I light some incense, keep the lights low, and tune into Krishna Das (unless I'm following a DVD or something). Creating that space usually encourages me to really sink into my yoga, and I end up practicing for longer than I had anticipated.

  4. I love your sacred space. I know that we don't need much room or anything special for our practice, but it just makes it that much more special. We are still working on our house, but the spare room that is now a "closet room" will soon be my very own yoga space. A place where I can shut the door and bliss out. And, a place where I can teach classes to friends. I'm so excited! It might be a while though...

  5. Great idea and love this post. I also love the pictures of your yoga spaces. I don't have much room right now, though as you pointed out, I don't NEED it. I simply shut the door to my bedroom, and turn on music or a yoga DVD, and unroll the mat. Sometimes, especially in the winter, I will light a candle. I have an altar by my bed, as well.

    So far, I'm doing really well and meeting all my goals (um, intentions) more or less. I've kept up my practice and even have meditated ALMOST as much as I said I would! :)

    This has been a wonderful journey so far and can't wait to see where it takes us!

  6. I love this post, Ecoyogini!

    I feel very spoiled because we recently moved into a new place with 2 bedrooms and I use the guest room for yoga. I have a small table with some candles and a Buddha statue- it is very nice! It is such a luxury to have this extra space, especially in crowded Seattle!

  7. thought i might be the only one on the planet who has done yoga while listening to tool...

  8. lol- yep I am a fan of Tool... and Maynard's voice during yoga is always awesome! I'm glad that there is someone else out there who has a yoga-Tool practice! :)


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