Month: April 2017

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Creating a Yoga and Meditation Space

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spaceOne key to establishing a great home yoga practice is having a good place for it.  You need to create a spot that feels comfortable, personal and enjoyable.  It’s your practice and your space so it should feel like you and be representative of your yoga interests and needs.  However, there are a few things that every yoga space needs, whether you have a whole yoga shala (room/studio) or only a corner.  To try to get to the essentials of your yoga space, think about all 5 senses so you can set the mood for your practice.  I have brainstormed some ideas and examples below to help inspire you with creating or perfecting your space.

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spaceSight

  • Decorate the walls!  Mantras, resources and diagrams you’re learning from or just things you think are pretty are all great visuals to add to your space.
  • Gods or goddesses that you believe in, wish to invoke, or are drawn to (there’s probably a reason you like that one!) are a great addition to your sacred space
  • Plants help make the space soothing and cozy.  They are great for de-stressing and purifying the air.
  • Find a way to store your props, resources and other things you might want that feels put together to you.  You don’t want clutter but you also don’t want to have to go fetch things.  Make it easy to get to everything you might need.
  • Nice light helps make the space warm and homey.

Sound

  • Music can energize and invigorate you or calm and soothe you.  Find your favorite songs for your practice or your different practices
  • Instruments can be a fun addition to your practice- like a bell, chimes or a singing bowl– something you can play along to mantras with or meditate with or to mark the beginning and end of your practice
  • Singing along to mantra can also be a fun part of a spiritual practice

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]


SmellIdeas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Smell can really help set the mood for your practice.  Aromatherapy can also energize or calm you.  Try candles, incense, and essential oils to help choose your mood.

Touch

  • Make sure you have ample space to move.  Some yoga poses stretch a bit past the mat.  Try to find enough space so you won’t be hitting a wall or furniture when you reach out
  • Be sure you have a good mat (or a few mats if you like to yoga with friends). Think about what features are important to you, like non-slip material or thick support.
  • Cozy props are the best!  Consider what props would best support your practice, such as
    • bolster
    • strap
    • eye pillowIdeas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space
    • pillows
    • yoga blanket
    • malas
Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
Also see our malas and yoga wear on Etsy 🙂
  • Comfy yoga clothes are a must.  You want to feel free to move in any way that calls to you.  Make sure you won’t have to be distracted by any discomfort.  (Check out our Yoga Shop for some great yoga pants, tops and accessories!)
This beautiful mantra, "Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu" is on one side of the mug, and its English translation is on the other: "May All Beings Be Happy and Free." Perfect for a cozy cup of tea or coffee. ($15-20)
Also see our yoga accessories and prints!

 

Taste

Something to sip, like teas or infused water, are nice for before and after yoga.  It’s also important to have plenty of water to stay hydrated during your session.

Your yoga space should be a spot that you feel drawn toward, a place where you want to be- just like your yoga practice.  Add whatever additional touches you feel you may need to make it absolutely yours.

 

 


Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Complete Guide to Pranayama, meaning breath control (one of the 8 limbs of yoga): 8 different types of pranayama: how to do each one and benefits #pranayama #breath

Guide to the 8 Limbs of Yoga: Pranayama: breathing

Complete Guide to Pranayama, meaning breath control (one of the 8 limbs of yoga): 8 different types of pranayama: how to do each one and benefits #pranayama #breathPranayama means breath control or breath expansion.  It is the 4th of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.  Prana means life force or vital energy.  Yama means control or code of conduct.  Actually, pranayama is a combination of prana and ayama.  Ayama means expansion so pranayama is a way to expand your vital energy and vibrate on a higher frequency.

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Vital energy flows through your body’s 108 nadis or energy channels and through the 7 energy centers or chakras.  Through pranayama breathing techniques, you can direct life force into your body and choose how to use it.  Some pranayama techniques are meant to soothe the body, while others are aimed at energizing.  Pranayama can also help clear blockages in your energy channels.

Breath is composed for 4 parts:

  • pooraka (inhalation)
  • rechaka (exhalation)
  • antar kumbhaka (internal breath retention)
  • bahir kumbhaka (external breath retention)

Different pranayama practices involve different aspects of the breath.  All pranayama techniques require you to focus on the breath.  In this way, pranayama acts as a meditation, becoming the only necessary thought for that moment.  Below are a few pranayama techniques to try.

Position for Pranayama

Most of these breathing techniques are typically practiced in a comfortable, tall (upright) seated position, eg. on a chair, in easy pose (sukhasana- below), or in lotus position (padmasana).  Allow your preoccupations and worries to take a break so you can focus on your breath.  If you can’t do this from the start, don’t worry it will probably come later as you concentrate on inhaling and exhaling.

Chin mudra Complete Guide to Pranayama, meaning breath control (one of the 8 limbs of yoga): 8 different types of pranayama: how to do each one and benefits #pranayama #breath
Chin mudra
Jnana mudra Complete Guide to Pranayama, meaning breath control (one of the 8 limbs of yoga): 8 different types of pranayama: how to do each one and benefits #pranayama #breath
Jnana mudra

Mudras can also be used during pranayama to help direct the flow of energy.  Chin and jnana are classic mudras that are often used in conjunction with pranayama.

To begin,take a couple of deep breaths, emptying all of your breath out on each exhale, allowing your body to start with fresh new air and focus for your pranayama.

Natural breath

Natural breath can be the simplest pranayama, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Concentrating on your breath without controlling it is sometimes tough.  Allow yourself to simply observe your breath, feeling it come in and out of your nose.  Notice how it’s cool going into your body and warm going out.  Let go of everything else and just watch prana come and go.  Allow it to pump through your body and mind.

3-part breath

With this technique, you will start to harness and control your breath.  Empty all of the air out of your body, then inhale directly into your diaphragm, filling the lowest part of your belly first.  As more breath enters your body, send it into your lungs, expanding through the sides of your rib cage.  Finally, let the last bits of the inhale fill your chest and raise through your clavicles (collar bone) and scapula (shoulder blades).  Your body is absolutely full of breath and prana.

On your exhale, you will empty the breath with equal care and concentration.  Start by allowing the shoulders and the chest to drop back down toward the ribs as the breath underneath them empties.  Then let the lungs and the rib cage contract as the breath leaves them.  Finally, empty the breath from deep down in your diaphragm, the pit of your belly.  You should be totally empty now, full of potential for your next breath pouring in.

This breathing technique is great for developing awareness of your body and breath.  It also focuses the mind.

Samavrtti

Complete Guide to Pranayama, meaning breath control (one of the 8 limbs of yoga): 8 different types of pranayama: how to do each one and benefits #pranayama #breathSamavrtti is a practice of creating the same length inhale and exhale.  Start by trying to breath in for 4 counts and out for 4 counts.  Try to stabilize and equalize the length of your inhales and exhales.  Once you are confident with this technique, try retaining the breath  for a count at the top of the inhale before continuing.  The third stage is retaining the breath at the bottom of the exhale instead.  As you become more comfortable with this technique, you can try lengthening your count.  When practicing sahita or retention, make the retention 1/3 as long as the count of the inhale and exhale (eg. inhale for 6, hold for 2, exhale for 6)

Samavrtti focuses the mind and calms the body.

Ujjayi

Ujjayi is often practiced during yoga.  It is infamous for its soft oceanic sound, like waves rolling in and out.  Others describe it as a hiss.  Start with natural breath, breathing normally from your nose.  Then slowly shift your awareness  to your throat.  Imagine you are breathing from the back of your throat.  Pull the breath in and push it out, as if you are breathing from a small hole in your throat. Breath is directed to the back of the throat.  Try to contract the glottis (vocal cords).  There will be a slight sound almost like snoring.  It doesn’t need to be loud enough for others to hear, contrary to what many instructors may say.

Ujjayi tranquilizes and heats the body, soothing the nervous system and mind.

Nadi Shodhana

Guide to Nadi Shodhana: How to and BenefitsNadi shodhana is my favorite pranayama technique.  In Nadi Shodhana, you breathes through one nostril and then the other.  Using the right hand, you can block the right nostril with the thumb and the left nostril with the ring finger (middle and pointer are folded down).  Inhale on the right with the left nostril closed, then change the hand positioning to open the left nostril and close the right nostril to exhale.  Inhale left and change over to exhale on the right.  Inhale right, then change your hand positioning and exhale left.

Nadi Shodhana is a great practice for reducing stress, removing toxins, and balancing energies.

To learn more and see pictures of the techniques, click the picture on the right.

Bhastrika

In Bhastrika, your diaphragm moves in and out like bellows stoking a fire. Take a deep breath in, drawing air into the diaphragm and expanding the belly.

The longyi yoga pants are inspired by the beautiful fabrics of Myanmar. Soft fabric with 4-way stretch made in the USA. High waist and inner pocket.
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Then breathe out forcefully through the nose, pushing the air out.  With the same force, pull the air in again.  Repeat this process ten times then take a break with normal breath.  Then take another 4 rounds of bhastrika breath.  This practice can be done with increasing speed as you become more familiar with it.  Also, once you are comfortable, try bhastrika through one nostril at a time.

Bhastrika removes toxins and strengthens the nervous system.  It increases the metabolism and clears out the airways.

Kapala Bhati

Kapala Bhati is similar to bhastrika, except the inhale is casual rather than forced.  Inhale naturally then exhale by contracting the abdominal muscles, pushing the air out.  The inhale will be a natural reaction to the forceful expulsion of breath.  Repeat 10 times then take a break with normal breathing before continuing on to another round.

Kapala Bhati energizes the mind and clears the airways.

Kali

Kaliasana: meaning, methodology, and breath-workKali breathing is great for bringing heat and energy into the body.  There are a few variations on this breath.  Click the photo to learn more about the goddess Kali and building energy like she does.

 

Much of this information can be found in the Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha book if you’re interested in further reading.

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster

DIY Bolster: how to make a yoga pillow for super yummy poses

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster

[Just so you know this post contains affiliate links]

Yoga bolsters are great props, especially for restorative and yin poses.  They’re also nice to sit on for meditation.  If you don’t have a shop to buy one in your area or if you want one on the cheap, you can make a bolster on your own.

 

Materials for your bolster

  • fabric
    • one large piece 28″ by 18″ plus seam allowance
    • two small pieces 6″ by 3″ plus seam allowance
  • stuffing
  • sewing supplies (thread, sewing machine or needle, scissors, etc)

 

How to sew your bolster

  1. The Shanti (Peace) Women's Yoga Tank Top is a colorful reminder of the sanskrit mantra meaning peace
    Also check out our yoga shop 🙂

    Cut your fabric to size, don’t forget to leave some extra room for seam allowance

  2. Pin then sew the long sides of the big piece of fabric together, with the right sides of the fabric together
  3. Pin one small pieces onto an open ends of the large piece (which is now a tube)– if the corners don’t match perfectly, it will be an ovular end, which will also work
  4. Sew the small end piece into place
  5. Repeat with the other end piece, but leave an opening for the stuffing rather than sewing all the way around
  6. Turn the pillow right-side out
  7. Stuff it FULL (you want a nice firm base to support your yoga poses)
  8. With a needle and thread, stitch up the opening you left for stuffing

For a pillow case

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
Also see our malas and yoga wear on Etsy

Follow the same steps as the pillow itself, except you will need slightly larger fabric (e.g. 30″ x 19″ and 7″x 4″) so the case can fit around the pillow.  Also, rather than sewing closed the long side, install a closure like a zipper or buttons.  Later, when you add the second end, you can seal it all the way up rather than leaving a hole for stuffing.

How to use the bolster

7 Restorative Poses to relax and rejuvenateCheck out some poses to try with your bolster in this post on restorative yoga by clicking the image on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster