Space for Yoga - Home Practice

Finding a space in which to practice yoga at home can be difficult.  Space in which to physically roll out your mat, space in time when you can practice and space in your life when you can allow yourself to be free of other distractions and the endless list of things you need to do.

We don't just bring expectation of what a 'proper' yoga sequence looks like to our efforts at home practice, we also bring our expectation of what a yoga practice feels like: we hope for a clear and quiet space in which to practice; having granted ourselves the time in our day to practice, we hope that children and partners will leave us alone for the duration; we'd like to light some incense and take some time around our practice.  And if we can't get all that together, then the yoga just doesn't happen.

Sometimes I practice in a quiet house, where I have no interruptions, where peace reigns, where I have no deadlines looming and no urgent things to do with my time.  The house is warm, the candles lit, the dog snoozes at the end of my mat.  Wonderful.

But I have also practised in the living room while the kids sat on the sofa watching tv (it was a cold day and that was the warmest room in the house); I have let my daughter roll her mat out alongside me and practise with me (chatting all the time obviously - she is nine and although she understands how nice it is to be quiet sometimes, the chat gene usually wins); I have practised in tiny hotel rooms and outside on balconies and verandas, in other people's gardens and on the beach.  I have practised at festivals while bemused strangers looked on while they cooked their breakfasts on camping stoves.  And it was all good.  All of it.

In terms of physical space, all you need is the room to roll out your mat and the height to reach up - but you could practice kneeling and seated postures in an even smaller space than this.

In terms of space in time, well I can't put it better than Sue Monk Kidd, who wrote 'the hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters'  We know it's good for us, we know it helps us live well, but we still find it hard to make for ourselves the time to actually do it.  Don't worry.  Make your practice small; make it simple; make it happen in a little way, rather than deferring until a time when you have more time (which might never come).

In terms of space in your life, children/partners/parents/pets... they will get in the way of your practice!  You find the space and roll out your mat, you find the time, you get there... and they won't leave you alone.  All I can tell you is that this happens to everyone and there are two manifestations of it:-

  • One is (for example) that the phone rings as you practice and you stop practising to answer it.  As if your caller won't leave you a message; as if you cannot wait for ten minutes to hear that message and call them back.  This interruption is within yourself and only you can persuade yourself to wait and finish up your yoga before you take the call. 
  • The other is that your beloved come and interrupt you while you practice and you let them take you away from your mat.  Look, it takes a long time for everyone else in your life to understand that you need/love/deserve your quiet time on your mat (how long did it take you to know this?) - it takes almost as long as it will take you to gently insist on having that time for yourself. 
You will be as distracted as you allow yourself to be.  Well, that was how it was/is how it is with me and in my life.  I realised that a lot of the distraction was within me... if my son wants a drink as I settle down for ten minutes on my mat, what was it in me that couldn't say, I will get you a drink in ten minutes?  Why do we find it so hard to prioritise ourselves and to do for ourselves the things that make us better (and nicer to live with, I might add).  I don't know, but I do know that I practise around my children and my dog and my life and my friends and my work every day and that nobody has yet died of thirst or malnutrition as a result.

In the end, after all of your procrastination, you just have to do it.  In fact, the only thing that yoga requires of you is that you do it.  Move, breathe, be at one with yourself and the world, feel your feet on the ground, spend some time in quiet solitude.  Enjoy it.  Don't make it into another thing to beat yourself up with or bring high ideals and expectation to it.  It is as simple as rolling out your mat and placing your feet purposefully on it.  It is as easy as kneeling on your mat and moving mindfully between cat and cow pose.  It is as straightforward as you allow it to be.  Do it for the love of it.



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