creating a sacred space

Today I wanted to share my tips about creating a sacred space for your yoga practice.

Firstly, yoga is not just exercise. It’s a WHOLE bunch of things. (Although, if you’re interested in my thoughts on yoga versus exercise you can read here). Because yoga is SO much more than a couple of down dogs and a plank, I believe that it’s really important to create a truly sacred space for you to nurture your yoga practice. Yoga is a practice of the body as much as it is a practice of the mind and that’s the reason why I believe that we need to bring our mind as much into the space as our body – and giving structure to the space in which you practice definitely helps achieve that!

The space that you choose to create to practice in, should be so welcoming and inviting to you that every time you step on your mat to practice or meditate or lie still and breathe, it truly feels like the best place in the world:
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This “space” has nothing to do with the physical space in which you practice. As you may have noticed above, the sentence reads, “the space you choose to create to practice in” not, “the place you choose to practice in”. If anyone reading this follows my yoga instagram account – you will see that I do most of my practice in our lounge. It’s not particularly glamorous and it’s not particularly a beach, and it’s not particularly bright and airy with glorious wooden studio floors. It is what it is. BUT, every morning (or evening) when I practice yoga, I choose to create a ‘space’ that is welcoming and special for me. And here is how:

 photo sacred space2_zpsfvqwhhqv.jpg1. Put on some good music
Before I begin practicing, I usually put on a good soft, “morning tune” while I am setting up my shizz. Something that helps get my mind ready for practice even before I have stepped on the mat. The music you choose to use can also feed into the mood of your practice. If you are feeling vibey and full of energy then something more upbeat is great! It it’s early morning (and you’re like me) – then something more chilled out would work best. I have various playlists on Spotify that I use depending on what my mood is like!

2. Light some candles
There is something about soft candle light that makes everything awesome. I usually light a scented candle and place it at the top of my mat. It gives an amazing glow and in winter, I sometimes practice with candles only, when it’s completely dark outside and you feel like you’re the only one awake. There is also a meditation technique which uses candle gazing as it’s focus – so if you’d like to give that a go – hey! It’s already good to go!

3. Add something smelly
By “smelly” I refer to the ‘good-kinda-smell’ ha! I am busy reading a book which links the sense of smell so closely to emotional memories and bonding. In fact, the sense of smell is the one sense that filters directly to the brain – which is why there is such a strong connection between what we smell and evoking a memory instantly. If there is a particular smell that you absolutely love – then use it! It could be in the form of oils that you drop onto your mat, or incense that you burn, or a room spray or scented candles as above.

4. Have something warm nearby
Regardless of whether you live in the tropics or in iceland, having a light blanket over you at the end of the practice is very comforting. So make sure that you have it nearby. I have been using the amazing blanket that was sent to me by Jacci. This could also be a top to put over yourself and if you do live in the tropics this includes making sure that the temperature where you are going to practice is as optimal for you as you can make it.

5. Add something personal
Choose something (small) and personal that you can bring with you into your practice space. I usually like to do some meditation before I begin my yoga practice. I have a book that I make notes and goals and thoughts and musings in and it has become a book that I use whenever I am meditating on something. I open it to a page, with my notes and thoughts written on that particular idea and set it down next to my candle. I also like to include my mala beads. Choose something that is personal to you – it could be a letter from someone special, a photograph, crystals (if you’re into that) or something that reminds you of someone special. Having this reminder present and visible when you practice, helps shift your practice from a physical thing into something that is greater than yourself. Choosing something small, allows you to take it with you wherever you practice if you wish.
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None of these things are dependent on the physical place in which you practice. Your practice could (and should) be taken anywhere! Your yoga mat should become like your very best friend: it is there when you are not having the greatest day and there when you are having the best day. Choose to create a space around your mat that really celebrates the time you spend on it. Take time to set up the space in which you choose to practice (you could even do it the night before if you need motivation for getting out of bed!) – it really does take your yoga practice from something you “should do” to something you absolutely crave!

How do you practice? Do you set up a sacred space for yourself? What other little ‘rituals’ do you do (if any) before you hit the mat?! I’d love to know!!