Image via Zenward
Forget the gym membership, here's how to create a peaceful yoga space at home
Whilst we're big fans of our local yoga studios at House of Home, we also love the simplicity and ease of practicing at home. Whether you're a beginner who wants a safe space to practice, or a seasoned pro looking for some daily invigoration, an at home yoga space is the perfect place to unwind, stretch out, and practice your asanas.
No space? No problem. Yoga isn't about the exterior world, it's about connecting your mind and your body to the present moment: so as long as you're able to clear some space for yourself, a home yoga studio is within reach. If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated space, we've also got some tips for creating this from the ground up, and adding some yoga-centric accessories. A dedicated area in your home can also be used for other switch-off activities. Meditation, reading, quiet time. Maybe you want to relax with a foot bath, a good book and some classical music.
And to make sure everything we do is in line with yogic principles, we've enlisted the help of yoga teacher Jess McIntosh from Here Yoga for some tips and tricks on creating the ultimate home yoga environment
Jess McIntosh from Here Yoga
These are essential for your yoga practice. Whilst meditation can be practiced anywhere, anytime, if you're planning on whipping out the asanas (poses), you'll need these two elements.
Image via Mirz Yoga Studio
A clear space
Central to a clear mind, is a clear space. Whether your making room in your tiny share-house bedroom, or are dedicating a whole area, you'll need the space in which you unroll your mat to be free of distractions. There's nothing more disruptive than breaking your vinyasa (flow) by whacking an elbow on a book case, or toppling over a shelf with some flailing feet.
Move furniture away as much as possible, ensuring you have at least 1.5m X 2.5m of free floor space, and try to take away any distractions. The less the better. Whilst it's not always possible to completely clear the space, the more you can move away (piles of clothes, books, rubbish, pillows), the more mental energy you'll be able to dedicate to your practice.
Image via Good Vibes Yoga Studio
Go device free. It's hard, I know, but as Jess says
"it's important to create a space free of distraction where you can come to connect to yourself, and switch off from the outside world. I'd recommend keeping out any electronics such as your phone, or switching on airplane mode if needed for music."
Blinking lights, buzzes from group messages and important emails are all things we try and keep on top of, but it's essential you disconnect for your practice time. It allows the mind to breathe, and also helps calm down your adrenal system, essential for switching off and relieving stress.
Try grouping stray items, accessories and yoga props in woven baskets or storage shelves. If you're building yoga room, consider some nooks or bookcases in which you can store you mats, blocks and other items. Alternatively, invest in a partition screen so you can block out the noisier (both visually and sonic) areas of your home, and allow your mind to concentrate on your poses.
Image via Dixon Family
Once you've cleared your space, you can unroll your yoga mat. Whilst blankets, rugs or towels can be used, it's worth investing in a quality yoga mat. A good mat will avoid slips and trips, and also pad your joints from the hard floor beneath.
Image via Half Moon
With the above, one can practice yoga anywhere. However for those wishing to up the ante a little and create a zen room, the tips below will help you achieve that.
A blanket is a great yoga prop for those with joint issues or hard under-flooring. Fold the blanket on top of your mat for poses which require knees on the ground. A blanket is also a great item to place over yourself during shivasana, the 5-20 minute prone meditation at the end. It keeps you warm, and creates a sense of protection and comfort which aids in meditation. Use a thick blanket made with natural fibres such as wool or cotton, in a neutral colour palette.
Soft, warm lighting is much more conducive to peaceful yoga than harsh, fluorescent lighting. In your yoga studio, opt for warm tones over cool tones, and if possible, choose lighting with a dimming option. This allows you to up the lighting during difficult poses, and dim it during Yin yoga or meditation. If changing the bulbs in your space isn't an option, try adding some standing floor lamps with warm bulbs, or placing a shawl or thin blanket over existing lamps (being mindful of fire hazards!!).
Image via Ebb Flow Yoga
Scented Candles or Diffusers
Smell is an oft forgotten sense that is integral to our empirical experiences. Whilst we can clear the physical objects from our space, adjust the lighting and soundproof the walls, smells can be harder to avoid. Wafts of an imminent meal, a dank sharehouse odour, the sweaty gym mats or a musty husband's shoes can invade a yoga space with as much disruption as a disco ball. In these instances, a scented candle, incense or a diffuser are the best ways to mask intrusive smells.
Additionally, the ambiance created from a scented candle is irreplaceable; the flickering flame of a candle or gentle curling smoke from incense is as calming and meditative as any chanting. The lighting of a candle or incense can become part of the yoga ritual itself.
Place an oil diffuser at the front of the room to make use of different oils' qualities. Jess adds that
"different essential oils and incense flavours can be used to create different moods depending on how you want to feel e.g. raising energy levels, relaxing before sleep or just clearing your mind"
A natural light-filled yoga space is ideal for getting back to nature and connecting with the space around. However for privacy, and to block out lighting during shivasana, curtains are a must. Ensure the curtains you're using this space are from natural materials. Linen, cotton and wool curtains in whites, greys or beiges make the best options.
Image via Habitissimo
Each to their own yoga practice, but at HoH we love playing some soft flute music in the background, or for the faster vinyasa sequences, some gentle instrumental electronic music. Invest in some good quality speakers that you can hook your phone or laptop up to - allowing you to pick your perfect music and play it alongside your tutorial.
It's well known that plants absorb airbourne toxins and Co2 and spit out clean air and oxygen in their place. What better buddies to keep you company during your flows than some plant babies. You may like to practice outside, or in a pavilion in your garden, Bali style, but for those in apartments or limited to inside, indoor plants are a fantastic way to purify the space and add some natural ambiance.
Image via 6sqft
So now we've gone through what to include, we'll reiterate what you need to avoid in this space:
- Harsh Lighting
Use cable ties to gather cords and cables, collect clutter into baskets, and turn the technology away.
Our final piece of advice?
The most important thing is to not overdo it - yoga is very much about your internal state of being so keeping a clear, open space is ideal - Jess McIntosh, Yoga Malvern
The best at-home yoga videos on youtube:
You may be blessed with enough yoga experience to do your own thang, but for the rest of us, at home yoga usually involves a good 15 minutes trawling youtube to find the right video, free of whingey instructors or annoying music. To help you out, we've done the hard yards and assembled the best tutorials to begin with.
Yoga Tutorials For Beginners
Yoga Sequences for Intermediate Yogis
Advanced Yoga Poses
Invigorating Morning Yoga Sequences
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Written by Elizabeth den Dulk.