Practice Yoga At Home

YOGA SPACES

how to create a home yoga practice space

A beautiful open space for yoga

A few weeks back I attended a yoga retreat in the Catskills. The practice space was glorious, and faced out into the mountains. Trees were visible through the windows, there was a sense of light and air, and we all had quite a bit of space around our mats. This is, or can be, a completely different experience for us when we are at home, trying to vie for a peaceful corner of a small apartment, or in a yoga class with others where space is at a premium.

CREATING YOUR YOGA CORNER

how to create a home yoga practice space

the wall as a yoga prop

I literally keep the visual of this beautiful and spacious practice space in my mind’s eye, however, at home, I do not have that luxury. I don’t actually care; super grateful to have what I have, which is a blend of home office and space to roll out a mat. I think there are a few key ingredients to creating a yoga space at home, and however you do it, in whatever scale, this mini guide may set you up for success.

WALL SPACE

The wall is a fantastic yoga prop and has always been my top choice for my home yoga spaces.

Here is my corner. What you can do is not actually hang things in one area so that nothing falls on you when you swing up into Viparita Karani

INVEST IN PROPS

how do I create a home yoga practice

invest in good quality yoga props

I have more in the closet, including yoga straps, Iyengar chairs and other tools of the trade. Buy good quality.

Even if you have two good blocks and a 10 foot yoga belt, you can improvise with towels and sofa pillows, especially if you want to add restoratives, or pranayama

ADD PERSONAL TOUCHES

Adding a few personal and meaningful items to your corner can bring your space to life or make it into a “sacred space”. I like plants, and have a few special things as touchstones of peace. Use whatever you like, whether it is a seashell, a candle, a photo, a flower.

making a yoga space at home

some beautiful objects of calm

It really does not matter what your practice space looks like. If you are practicing pratyahara, you can pretty much just focus on your body and your breath…enjoy :-)

a simple guide to creating a sacred space

Strengthening Your Intuition

This is a post based on a blog I wrote awhile back on how to strengthen your intuition. I was reminded today when I came across this huge ear. I do believe we hear more than we listen, and after reading the Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh, I am more than ever aware of the need to listen, inwardly and in relationships. He writes,  “There are two keys to effective and true communication. The first is deep listening. The second is loving”
strengthening your intuition and inner listening

intuition and inner listening

You can check out the full post by clicking here:
This is an excerpt:

listen inwards“The intuitive language is an internal one that defies cognitive reasoning. It’s also silent, sudden and self-confident. Your instincts just know. When you ignore them, however, they can become increasingly louder. They’re like toes being stepped on. They don’t like it and they make you scream out in agony. Still, we tend to promote self-doubt and push them away; trust isn’t immediate.

Intuition may be felt as a whisper or like a bolt of lightning, but we all have the capacity to hear it.  Sometimes following a hunch can save your life. One student I know paid attention to her hunch about her car and found out she had brake problems; her instinct prevented an accident. Another student told me it helped him earn a fortune by selling his stocks at the right time. When we listen to our inner GPS on our yoga mat, we cultivate healthy self-respect”

Yoga Practice For Self-Respect

Yoga Practice For Self-Respect:  any practice can be a yoga practice for self respect with the right attitude !

self respect

Yesterday a newcomer to my restorative yoga class said “I am terrible at yoga”. Wow! Powerful statement, one that I am taking up in today’s notes. I found this mini info-graph about self-respect which I thought I would share as well.

self respect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can see how in a group where you are doing a vinyasa practice there might be a sense of having to keep up. Personally, I have learned, if I ever do this type of yoga, to go at my own pace. It can seem largely competitive, far from the intentions of the yoga system, which is designed to still the mind and prepare it for contemplation and positivity.

If you are this person, “kill the negative self talk. It’s a bad habit, period”. Also, “stop comparing yourself to others. It’s not fair, it never will be. Focus on yourself”. It is called a ‘practice’ so sometimes you just have to keep at something to improve your skills or get to where there is an organized and cohesive feeling tone in the way your body-mind perform. Here is where you “stick to your goals. You deserve to experience your own integrity and loyalty. Be loyal to yourself and do what you say you will do”.

self-respect

The girl in my class actually felt wonderful leaving, and it seemed like her perspective had changed. She was relaxed, and I think, had experienced yoga brought to her, rather than having to chase it. It had perhaps become an example of “doing something you love”. So if yoga isn’t giving you this feeling, join me, because it is a great way to cultivate a healthy self-respect in the right environment

self-respect

#liveyouryoga

present moment awareness

I think the best way to describe how to develop present moment awareness through your yoga practice is to look at it as a moving meditation. “Yesterday ended last night” is a good way of affirming and grounding yourself in now. You may be living the consequences of yesterday today, but hopefully your new mindfulness will lead you to make different choices so that when you say this tomorrow, you are actually in a better place.

“Aligning the mind with the experience of the present moment is the fundamental practice of mindfulness…As soon as you become aware that your mind has ventured off into thoughts about the past or the future, slowly reestablish the vertical axis of mindfulness…” ~ Will Johnson

Present Moment

Present Moment

“Being “in the state of flow” doesn’t mean that we spend all of our time in bliss in the nondual realms. Flow means allowing ourselves to be surrendered to life, to the way it is, and to forget ourselves in pure involvement in our work, our task at hand, our love-without worry over the outcome. As Robert Frost said, “Freedom means moving comfortably in harness.”” ~ Stephen Cope

“Mindfulness is not just an action of the mind” ~ Will Johnson

Today, see if you can, every time the mind flies off to yesterday or tomorrow, just stop, take a breath and feel where that breath is moving in your body right now. Do that for just a minute if that is all you have, and see whether exchanging the thinking mind for the feeling self, harnesses your energy and guides you into an aware presence and calm

 

 

seventh chakra affirmations

Seventh chakra affirmations…As you now know, from reading the first and subsequent instalments of these chakra posts traditionally the yogic system holds that there are 7 chakras, or energy centres in the body.   These are arranged vertically from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.  Chakra is the Sanskrit word for ‘wheel’, and these centers are perceived as spinning wheels of energy. Today we arrive at the crown of the head, cerebral cortex, which is, if you are doing a headstand, where you place your head down (as opposed to the forehead). Called the Sahasrara chakra, the colour associated with it is purple.

seventh chakra

crown chakra

The affirmation here is “I am connected to all. I am part of all.” Concepts associated with this energy centre are awareness, and expanded consciousness, spirit, intelligence and divinity; our connection with our higher self. Naturally, if you are lost in worry and over-thinking, this is going to present an imbalance here. Meditation, on the other hand, will promote harmony. If you tend to ‘space out’ just to be clear, this is also an imbalance. the process is one of expanding your notion of self, but also, staying grounded in your body and in the present moment.

 

third eye chakra

Today we bring our attention to the third eye chakra…If you are just joining in, we have been meditating, or, bringing awareness to each of the energy centres, this stemming from an original blog I wrote about chakra balance.

third eye chakra

third eye chakra

The third eye chakra is also called the Ajna chakra and the colour associated with it is royal blue. These energy centres are sensitive and fluctuations or imbalances can occur through external stressful circumstances, long stored physical tension or limited self- concepts. The sixth centre involves the areas of the eyes and forehead, along with that, intuition, dreams, memory, vision, imagination and visualization. I have a few practices that work with this centre on my Yoga Mind Cd.

The meditation today is “Be aware that your intuition is your ability to know, recognize and sense all that you need to enjoy a happy, balanced and fulfilled life”. The under functioning in this centre is manifest in an inability to be in touch with one’s instincts, an insensitivity to the subtle environment, and misperceptions (doubt for example). If you are someone who pushes the limits on your mat, for example, without listening to the whisper of the body to pause or stop, this is another example. If you are having lots of nightmares, this too could be an indication of unrest in this centre. A quiet mind, a Yoga Mind, is a rested and aware one…

vishuddha chakra

The fifth chakra is located at the throat and called in sanskrit vishuddha and the colour associated with it is light blue.

This is the energy centre that involves the neck, throat, mouth and jaw, and is associated with sound, vibration, communication and speech, amongst others. If you are just tuning in, the original blog on chakra balance is here. We have been covering all the chakras to date as well. The 7 chakras when working harmoniously will uplift our energy.  When blocked, we may experience low self-esteem and other difficulties.  I have a meditation on my CD, Yoga Mind that will help you re-balance these centers and remove blockages.  It is a great basis for understanding the subtle energies at work while you do yoga postures.

The meditation of this chakra (and please note these are not my drawings, so I cannot take credit) is “I listen with my whole self and think before I speak. When I speak, I don’t back away from what is true or right. I share and communicate effectively and respectfully with others. I express myself fully and creatively”… as with all the energy centres, obviously if you are bad mouthing someone, you are not using your ‘highest’ vibrational output…chanting on the other hand could uplift..

vishuddha chakra

vishuddha chakra

Heart Chakra Meditation

Heart Chakra Meditation:

heart chakra meditation

heart chakra

Appropriately for this Thanksgiving Day, we turn our attention to the Anahata, or Heart Chakra. If you have been following, today is the fourth day of the series, which originated with an older post I wrote on chakra balance 

The colour associated with the heart chakra is green. Today’s meditation: “I listen to my heart and honor its connection to the hearts of others. I allow love to fill me up and guide me in all of my actions. I gracefully move to the rhythm of life.”

Some of the key concepts of this energy centre are: balance, love, compassion, relationship, breath, peace. The location is upper chest and includes the back of the heart space as well. Put into practice with the essential breath on my Yoga Mind cd

Solar Plexus Chakra

Solar Plexus Chakra  ~ today in instalment three we focus on the solar plexus, this a continuation of the past 2 days and an older blog post I wrote. The third chakra is also called The Manipura (navel) –or solar plexus, and is associated with the colour yellow.

Each of the 7 chakras is associated with particular emotions and specific issues that we deal with in life. They also relate to how we handle these in our own internal processes and our ways of interacting within our environment. These chakras can be thought of as power/distribution centres of life energy, or prana.  They are sensitive and fluctuations or imbalances can occur through external stressful circumstances, long stored physical tension or limited self- concepts.

The meditation today is “I love myself. I am willing to stand up, with strength and confidence, for that which I believe. I have the freedom to make my own choices in life with appreciation of my sense of self. I am connected to the source of all power and it flows through me to encourage the power of others.” Key concepts are power, will, energy, metabolism, control, fire amongst others.

 

solar plexus chakra

solar plexus chakra

If a chakra is deficient, it does not receive the energy it needs to help with manifestation of its positive qualities in the world, and, when excessive, it can dominate the personality which creates further imbalances for the chakra to receive, absorb, integrate and distribute the flow of energy through our being.

 

 

 

The Second Chakra

Second Chakra ~ today we move to an affirmation for the second chakra. If you have just tuned in, check out yesterday’s post for a meditation on the first chakra; and a longer blog on the subject here.

second/sacral chakra

 

This affirmation reads: “I am a sensory being full of creative potential. I embrace life with passion and enjoy plunging into joy and happiness. My senses are alive, aware and connected”. The colour of this energy centre is orange, and the sanskrit translation is Svadisthana. It is located around the hips, and genitals, higher than the root chakra. This energy centre is thought of as the locus of feelings and creativity; how we feel and how we express (or block) these feelings. Whereas we think of groundedness with the first centre, with the second one, we shift into movement and change; the element of water being associated with it, and, with emotions (energy in motion)…Emotions are the result of consciousness dropping into the body, and reactions taking place. When emotions are blocked or repressed, it tends to restrict our creativity and getting in touch with these hidden tensions is a byproduct of yoga practice. Someone just expressed to me that a huge crying spell was had after a restorative workshop I gave, as this person touched into some stored pain and was able to let go