Making Space

For many people the hang-up when it comes to doing their yoga is that they feel like they don’t have space for it. I’ve heard plenty of different reasons, everything from living in a tiny shoebox apartment, to having children spread all over the house, to spouses and pets and more. The bottom line is this: If your yoga matters that much to you then you’ll find a space for it.

That’s it. If you had spent months saving up for a brand new appliance and then realized you didn’t have space for it you wouldn’t get rid of it or abandon it somewhere would you? Of course not. You’d shift things around a bit, you’d find some wiggle room here and there and maybe in the process you’d even clean up a bit, get a little more organized. Ultimately you’d find a way to make that appliance fit nice and neat inside your home because of the value you place on it. You saved for it - that’s your money, your hard work right there. There’s no way you’re going to give it up without at least trying to make it fit and (depending on how much money you spent on it) you might try pretty hard to make it fit.

The same dedication should be applied to your yoga practice, and again - if it’s really that important to you, you’ll find a space for it. You’ll rearrange or clean out or whatever it takes to have a spot to unroll that mat. I know single parents with more than enough children to take up every square inch of a home that have still managed to find a few feet they set aside to do their yoga in. All the excuses in the world don’t mean a thing. If you live in even a semblance of a modern day house/apartment then you absolutely have room to do your yoga. It may not be the most glamorous or spacious room, it may not look like your favorite studio or be as peaceful as an ashram but it’s still space and it’s yours. Claim it, and do with it what you can.

Many of us have resigned to building and then taking down our own little space for yoga each time we practice. I’ve lived in apartments so small that a mouse seems like an elephant in them and I know how limited space can be which means the yoga mat gets rolled up and stored as soon as you’re done practicing. They key to making this kind of an arrangement work is to have specific items to set up each time you get ready to start your practice for that day. I had a box that I kept next to my yoga mat that was filled with things that I would take out and arrange before starting my sequences. There were a few candles, some incense, a couple of little buddha statues, some colorful cloth, and a few other items that kept me focused and grounded while I practiced.

Every day as I got ready to practice I would sit on my mat, open this box, and arrange these items around me in a particular way. This may seem slightly odd but for me it was like a routine. It was like instead of driving to the studio, locking up my car, heading inside, take off my shoes and what not I would sit down and open up my box. It was a familiar rhythm and it allowed me to settle into my practice each day. It also allowed me to feel like for those few minutes, in the middle of my crazy messy tiny apartment I had a little bit of sacred space. I didn’t have a big room or a wall lined with mirrors so I could check my poses - instead it was just a piece of aging glass and a few feet on the floor by my couch but it was my space, it was my mats space, and it was where my yoga lived.

The point is that even though it was frustrating, cramped, cluttered and noisy sometimes I still stayed firm and pushed my coffee table out of the way every single day so that I could practice. And instead of being irritated and annoyed by the small amount of room I had I chose to be grateful. And my way of doing that was by setting up my own little makeshift studio every time I got out my mat. I could have said that I would only do my yoga on days that I could go to the studio - that it wasn’t even worth trying to do it in my apartment, but I didn’t. I chose to embrace what I had to work with, to be grateful for it, and to do my very best to make it into what I wanted and guess what. I ended up having far better days practicing there on the floor than I did in any studio.

It turned out that the little space I was so annoyed with in the beginning became my favorite space to practice in the end. I found myself more centered, more focuses, more in tune with my body and my breath when I practiced at home. I found myself coming away with greater insights about not only my practice but my life and as soon as I really began to love and cherish the little space I had at home I found more space. I found new apartments, new studios, and eventually the house I have now where I can practice my yoga freely without worrying about having enough room - but none of it would have happened if I hadn’t learned to be grateful and own the space that I did have.

So regardless of how much room your living situation allows you for your yoga take the time to make it your own. Keep it simple, keep it clean, and most importantly, be grateful for it. Show that gratitude in the way you think about, talk about, and act towards that space. Be kind and loving and accepting to however much floor room you have and honor that space by creating the environment you deserve to have to practice in. Whether that means playing special music, lighting a candle, having a pillow to meditate on or a photograph that inspires you sitting nearby - whatever it is that makes you feel blessed to be where you are, create that so that whenever you unroll that mat you know how lucky you are to be exactly where you are.

If you can manage that you’ll be able to find plenty of space to practice your yoga anytime you want.