If you’re a gardener, you know the value of choosing an ideal site and preparing quality soil for nurturing healthy plants. The same is true for tending to your inner growth: when you devote a nook in your home to your practice and sow it with your higher intentions, you create the right conditions for your spiritual life to thrive.
When you devote a nook in your home to your practice and sow it with your higher intentions, you create the right conditions for your spiritual life to thrive
A dedicated space collects and focuses your energy, removes uncertainty about where to practice, and, through habit and association, helps the mind move inward more quickly and deeply. Much like an encounter with the refrigerator conjures thoughts of food, and a glance at the couch invites a comfortable sprawl, catching sight of your meditation seat in a sanctified space will evoke your deepest yearnings and inspire you to do your practice.
Choose a place that can become a sanctuary—a quiet, private space protected from outside distractions and out of public view. You may be fortunate enough to designate an entire room, but a corner in your bedroom will suffice.
You’ll need a meditation seat (traditionally known as your “asana”) which may be a neatly folded blanket topped by a cushion for support, or even a chair or bench. Keep any additional props needed to support a comfortable sitting posture nearby, as well as your mala, shawl, or journal; but otherwise keep the space uncluttered and scrupulously clean.
A simple altar will serve as the heart of your space, calling you to your practice by providing inspiration and focus. An altar is an acknowledgement of the deeper essence of life and a bridge to the unseen—a link between our life in the world of elements and the subtle world. All altars, even public ones, serve to remind us of meaning and purpose in life, and connect us to inner strength and guidance. In religious or ritual settings, an altar is the locus for offerings made to ancestors or deities. In the context of yoga meditation, an altar inspires an offering of inner resources rather than outward ceremony or ritual, so simplicity is key.
Altars serve to remind us of the meaning and purpose of life, and connect us to inner strength and guidance.
Try a small low table or a small chest of drawers at eye level, with a tasteful and simple covering. The objects you place upon your altar give focus, substance, and energy to your highest intentions. Traditionally, a flame (from a candle or a ghee lamp), water, flowers, fruit, and incense are offered on an altar to represent the gifts of the world given to us through the five elements. Often, these are joined by objects from a pilgrimage—a stone, sanctified water, or a sacred representation (such as a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe or a carving of Lord Ganesha). The objects themselves are not as important as whether the altar uplifts the mind and touches the heart.
By creating a sacred space that encourages you to cultivate and nurture a devoted practice, you are one step closer to tasting the fruits of yoga—unconditional well-being and pure awareness.