When people hear the word ritual, they might envision an ornate ceremony, a favorite holiday or an elaborate religious service. But creating a ritual is something you can do in your own home. For example, perhaps you have a morning ritual as simple (and profound) as drinking your coffee or tea out of a favorite mug in silence. Or maybe you take 10 minutes to write or take a walk during your lunch break at work.
Without a doubt, your home yoga practice is already a ritual, but thinking of your practice this way can make it a little more special. If you’re someone who’s struggled to maintain a consistent home practice, taking steps to turn your practice into a ritual can help to strengthen your excitement and desire to get on your mat more often.
Consider this: Ritual is unique precisely because it isn’t part of everyday life. It’s something special, distinguished from mundane tasks like washing the dishes and scanning through emails on autopilot. Ritual is infused with focus, intention and specificity. Viewing your practice as a ritual with a clear intention on space, mood and timing, can strengthen your ability to show up consistently for a regular and meaningful at-home yoga practice.
Creating your home yoga ritual special doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. The following suggestions can help you to take your home practice into the realm of ritual.
1. Consider your space. Consistency–that is, using the same space to practice—is often more important than aesthetics. Of course, if you have space in your house to dedicate solely to meditation and yoga, that’s wonderful. If not, any sunny, uncluttered corner will work just fine. One of my teachers once told her students that she doesn’t have a shrine or a separate room in her house for practicing yoga. Instead, she rolls her mat out beside her bed and closes the door so the dogs can’t get in. But you know what? She does her home practice every day, in that same place—her designated yoga spot—and it is absolutely a meaningful ritual.
2. Set the mood. Lighting a candle, burning oils or a stick of incense, playing soft music and hanging art in your practice area are all wonderful ways to set the mood and remind yourself that you are partaking in something special and sacred. What scents set you at ease? If you’re not sure, stop by a local natural market and peruse the aromatherapy aisle to find an spray or oil you find invigorating and comforting. What sounds or music might help you center during your practice? Sometimes the smallest touches can make a big difference.
3. Beginning and ending. Another effective way to separate your at-home yoga ritual from the rest of your day is to have a clear start and end to your practice. If you only have a specific time to practice, consider setting a timer so you don’t have to watch the clock while you’re on the mat. Think about chanting a single “Om” at the beginning and end to mark the opening and close of your practice. Perhaps you ring a bell, or take a few moments of seated meditation to complete your asana sequence. In other words, you don’t want to jump out of a warrior pose to check on dinner and never make it back to the mat. A firm starting and ending point will help to make that time separate and special from your daily routine.
What are your daily rituals? How do you make your at-home yoga practice special?