How to create a calming yoga or meditation space anywhere
Do you have a special dedicated space for relaxation, meditation, yoga or you-time? Is there a place you’d consider sacred; somewhere you feel completely present, content or inspired? Throughout the world, sacred spaces such as shrines, temples, churches, synagogues, mosques, monasteries, and locations like Jerusalem, Mecca, Lourdes and Mount Sinai in Egypt are all considered ‘sacred’, but what makes them so?
What makes a space sacred?
The word ‘sacred’ comes from the Latin sacer, referring to that which is ‘dedicated’, ‘consecrated’, ‘purified’, and for thousands of years, sacred spaces have been connected to a sense of divinity and spirituality. Today however, many of us have entirely different views of what it is to be ‘spiritual’, and we might all have a different understanding of what it feels like to step into someplace sacred. For some, a sacred space might simply be a place of peace and quiet amongst busy family life. For others, a sacred space might be dedicated to yoga and meditation practice. The beauty of creating your own sacred space is that you get to choose exactly what it means to you, and what exactly you’ll put in it.
Why might I want a sacred space?
Getting into the habit of practicing meditation, yoga or relaxation can be difficult unless you have a specific place to do it. Most of our habits are tied to and triggered by locations – notice how you might automatically switch on the kettle to make tea when you step into the kitchen in the morning, or how you might feel much more relaxed the moment you set foot in your bedroom. Our brains make connections to different places (which is why it’s important not to take your work life into your bedroom if you want to sleep well!) so having a sacred space is a powerful way to shift your mindset, and help make healthy habits that much easier to do. With so much noise, busy-ness and distraction in the outside world too, there’s never been more need for a cosy corner to settle in for a while.
How can I create a sacred space?
To start creating your sacred space, choose somewhere relatively quiet; this might be a bedroom, a corner of the living room, or it could simply be a shelf where you’ll place a few dedicated objects that help you tap into that sense of serenity. You might want to chant a mantra or practice a ritual like sage smudging as a way to change the energy of your chosen place. Below, we’ve chosen three special items to add to your sacred space, coupled with yoga and self-care rituals to practice, to help bring you into a more relaxed, revived and rejuvenated place.
Create an atmosphere of rest and relaxation with our hand-poured vegan soy wax candle, scented with calming lavender and sweet and spicy neroli from the blossom of the bitter orange tree. These pure essential oils have been expertly blended to promote relaxation, alleviate anxiety and enhance positivity.
Light this soy wax candle, a must-have candle on dark mornings or Winter evenings, and practice this gentle seated yoga flow:
- Bring yourself to sit in a comfortable position such as sukhasana (a relaxed cross-legged position) or sit with your feet out Infront of you if this is more comfortable). You can always use a cork yoga block to elevate the hips if they feel restricted too.
- Bring your palms together at the heart centre in Anjali mudra.
- As you inhale, sweep the arms up above the head
- Exhale to return your hands to Anjali mudra, and repeat three times to link your movement and breath together
- Inhale again to lift the arms
- As you exhale, gently twist to the right, placing your arms on the ground either side of you
- Inhale to sweep your arms back up again, and exhale to lower your arms and twist to the left
- Return to the centre, this time placing your right hand on the ground next to you, lifting your left arm up and over for a side stretch
- Repeat to the other side, moving with your breath
- Return to the centre, placing both hands on your knees
- Move through a cat-cow spinal waving movement by inhaling to lift up through your chest and arch your spine, and exhaling to gently round the spine
- Repeat three times, linking breath to movement
- Return hands to the heart centre, but this time place the palms flat to your chest
- With the palms on your chest, visualise your breath moving in and out through your heart space, a practice I call ‘heart-centred-breathing’. As you inhale, feel energy, life and love flowing into your body, and as you exhale, send that love and energy to someone who needs it today. Repeat three times.
- Finish your practice by relaxing the hands in your lap in the meditative dhyana mudra (one palm on top of the other with the tips of the thumbs touching).
Mala beads are used throughout many different sacred traditions, and within yoga practices, the 108 beads are often used for repeating mantras. If you find meditation challenging, mantra meditation or ‘japa’ as it is sometimes known, could be the key to helping calm and focus your mind. The soothing scent of natural rosewood beads helps calm the mind, and many believe that prayer beads like this have the healing power to increase immunity, energy and stamina. When we consider how much stress plays a part in immune health and energy, it seems truly viable that a mantra meditation practice with mala beads really could help rebalance the mind and body:
- Place the mala beads between your thumb and the edge of your middle finger.
- Choose a mantra or affirmation to serve as your meditative focus, this could be anything like; ‘Om’, ‘Peace’, ‘I am enough’, ‘I choose love’, or any phrase that helps you feel centred and calm.
- With your thumb touching one bead, repeat the mantra silently in your mind our out loud.
- Use your thumb to move on to the next bead and repeat the mantra again.
- A whole mala would consist of 108 chants, but can also be divided into chanting for a quarter of the mantra (27 repetitions of the mantra) or half (55 reptitiions) depending upon how much time you have.
Organic Cotton Zabuton
A dedicated meditation practice is made easier when you also have a dedicated space. Yogamatters has a wide range of meditation equipment to make it more comfortable and accessible to meditate than ever for both total beginners and long-term meditators. Whether you choose to use the Meditation For Beginners book and CD by Jack Kornfield, Everyday Yoga Meditation by Stephen Sturgess, or if you choose to simply focus on your own breathing as a meditative anchor, remember that healthy habits are often tied to a specific place, making it easier for us to do them daily. Place the Yogamatters organic cotton Zabuton in your sacred space to provide a soft, warm base for your meditation practice. The Zabuton differs from a typical meditation cushion in the sense that it has a larger surface area, providing more comfort for knees and ankles, as well as being perfect as a base for a second cushion like the organic cotton meditation cushion. The more comfortable and relaxed your body is, the more you’ll be able to focus on calming your mind with this breath-based practice:
- Sit in a comfortable position on your zabuton, or with hips raised a little higher for support on your mediation cushion.
- Either relax your hands, or choose a mudra such as Tattva mudra, Bhu mudra, or Lotus mudra
- Bring your awareness to your breath
- Notice whether your breathing is relaxed, or whether it feels a little fast
- Begin to slow your breathing down, inhaling for a count of 6, holding for 6, exhaling for 6 and holding again for 6
- Continue to breathe with this slow rhythm, maintaining your awareness on your breath as much as you can. This practice can help to deeply relax the nervous system, sending messages to the brain via the vagus nerve that it’s ok to let go and relax
- If your mind wanders, simply bring your focus back to your breathing
- Stay here from anywhere between 5-20 minutes, or as long as you like