Tag Archives: zen

How to Design Your Yoga Space at Home

Very pleased to introduce a blogosphere friend from the South Pacific today – meet Harper! She is from Auckland, New Zealand and is sharing her insights on how to create a zen at-home yoga and/or meditation space. Namaste! 

 

 

How to Design Your Yoga Space at Home

One of the great things about yoga is that you do not need much space in which to practice. That means that even in a small home you can create a special area that is exclusively designed to please you and to provide an ideal setting for meditation and yoga.

Here are some tips for creating your perfect yoga space at home:

 

  1. Where to create your home yoga space

If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate, creating an inviting outside space is ideal. Ensure the ground is firm and level in the outdoor space you choose, as this is vital to being able to perform your asanas correctly. If you do not have an outside space available, try to find somewhere within your home that has plenty of natural light and good ventilation. Alternatively, if you have the room, you can create a fantastic yoga area at home from an empty shipping container. These are perfectly suited for creating a hermetic environment where you will not be distracted by the outside environment. If you can place it in your garden and open up one side, you can create a perfectly peaceful and relaxing place to practice yoga. Whatever space you choose, make sure that family members will respect your privacy and the intimacy of this special place.

 

  1. Why have a designated yoga area at home?

Creating a designated yoga space will help you to maintain regular practice sessions. It means you won’t need to head out to the yoga studio or to have to rearrange the furniture to spread out your mat. Whether you convert the spare bedroom, create a whole new room, or just designate a corner in an existing room, having a dedicated yoga space lets you create an atmosphere of peace where everything you need to use is at hand to make the best use of your time for yoga practice. Also, practicing daily in the same space can increase your awareness by making you more conscious of subtle changes in your environment and in your own body and mind.

 

 

  1. Declutter

First, in whichever space you choose, remove everything that is not essential to practicing yoga or that is not beautifully inspiring. Getting rid of unnecessary distractions will allow you to be able to concentrate on your meditations and asanas.

 

  1. Color

If you are going to repaint, choose calm, muted colors and use non-toxic, eco-friendly paint. Pale blues and greens or warm tones of white that recede rather than call your attention, are ideal for creating a relaxing and calming environment.

 

  1. Decorations

Keep them minimal but inspirational. A plant or two, a handcrafted wall hanging, a dream catcher, a statue of Buddha. Only include items that you personally find exceptionally beautiful and pleasing to raise your spirit and to center your attention.

 

 

  1. Lighting

Natural light is best – but hang lightweight curtains so that you can control the level of light that enters. Dimmer switches are essential, and discreet soft lighting that can be changed to match your mood is ideal.

 

  1. Essentials

Make sure all the things you need for your yoga routine are easily accessible such as yoga mats and towels, or bolsters and meditation pillows. A strap, blocks, and a yoga sandbag can also be useful.

 

  1. Accessories

Scented candles, aromatic oil burners and incense are good accessories to create special atmospheres in your home yoga space. Our sense of smell greatly affects our mood and choosing different aromas can influence both your mood and your state of animation.

 

 

A little more about our guest writer:

Harper is a creative writer and adventurer who is fond of anything related to fitness, design, and travel. When she isn’t busy freelance writing, you’ll find her buried in classic novels or meeting up with friends in a neighbourhood café. Be sure come to say hi on her blog.

 

Happy Yoga-ing!

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

Don’t You Deserve a Break?

There are many days when we women run on an empty tank, rushing around to take care of errands, a family, work, meals, and, on seldom occasion, a pedicure! If we’re lucky. No “Manual on Life” told us to keep the pressure on 24/7; it just kind of happened one day. It became the norm out of nowhere.

But, even with a full agenda…especially with a full agenda, it’s important to give ourselves a well-deserved break. A big part of wellness is knowing how to handle our energy. We must refuel and be “selfish” at times or we will, quite literally, go crazy. Been there!!!

So, in celebration of the upcoming holiday, Labor Day, I would like to leave you with some ideas on how to create boundaries and “me time,” so that you can finally catch your breath.

Take a break

Whether or not you have the day off on Labor Day is irrelevant. I went for years without standard weekday holidays off because that was when clients had time to get in the gym. People I had been trying to get on my schedule for months would finally show up! Hence, the Labor Day blog post will be a workout that you can do, should you choose to spend part of the holiday on your health. Whenever you have the opportunity to make time for yourself is great!

It may be that you have to hit the pause button in the middle of a busy time at work – in order to save your sanity –  or you may have too much time on your hands one month and, as a result, you feel like you have to keep a full schedule, making every minute count. Whatever the case, if you don’t make time for you, no one else will. Showing yourself love is just as important as loving others, especially for women who tend to be hard on themselves while simultaneously being incredibly generous to others.

This past week I found myself short-fused and exhausted. I’m almost 16 weeks pregnant and I had spent the entire month working my rear end off on events for other women in my life. I was super happy to do it and very honored to have such special ladies in my life that I would bend over backwards for. Still, I reached the end of August feeling physically and emotionally vulnerable. I had depleted myself because I didn’t take the time to reenergize and focus on my needs (especially during such a sensitive time in life). So, I decided to implement the following strategies (below) to create a little personal space and time for myself. It was only one day of the week that I gave in to all of my needs, but I savored in it. I finally felt like I took care of myself.

Maybe you can use these strategies to cut out a few hours of the day for yourself, or maybe you can find a way to turn it into a whole week! Enjoy the time and remember that you are worthy of it.

Strategies for Recharging

Katharine Hepburn

Carve Out Time

Although an impromptu “peace out” can be extraordinarily satisfying, I find that planning your personal time in advance has some benefits. If you plan your personal hour(s), day(s), week(s) or…gasp…month(s) (PS – I envy you) ahead of time, you have the ability to be really thoughtful about how you wish to spend it. One can easily get wrapped up in an agenda of personal errands during off days instead of giving time to activities that will be emotionally rejuvenating.

I think one of the biggest things that women need to remember is that there doesn’t need to be a justification for your time off. You don’t need to make up a lame excuse about your dog’s vet appointment or a family member from out of town. Just say that you need the day off. Simple as that!

Create Boundaries with Friends/Family/Co-workers

If you need the day off and someone is making you feel bad about it, that’s their issue, not yours. I know it sounds harsh, but there are likely few needs that will collapse the world or ruin your professional reputation if left unattended to for 24 hours (unless an individual’s actual life depends on you…which may be the case for babies, handicap and elderly individuals). Thus, it’s important to identify people who you anticipate may reach out to you during your time off. Politely let them know that you care about them and their needs, but that you’re going to be off the radar for a hot second and to please hold off on communication. You can promptly pick things up again when you return.

I was really intimidated to explain to a few close friends that I needed a break from talking about baby stuff for the week. As an expectant mother, I felt overwhelmed by the constant messages and requests to chat about how I was feeling, particularly when they came multiple times a day. I appreciate the outpouring of love and concern, but I just felt that it was holding me back from getting into a rhythm of focusing on myself (and ironically, by taking care of my own needs, being able to take care of my growing baby’s needs). I’m here today to say that these friends completely understood that I needed to mentally check out for a bit. I mean, once the baby arrives I won’t have that privilege! They are still my wonderful friends and no, it wasn’t as scary or offensive to bring up as I had imagined it. Life goes on!

Relaxation is who you are

Do Things That REALLY Make You Happy

I recently heard about famous Japanese home organizer, Marie Kondo. She tells people to take each item in their closet or home, depending on how much decluttering you need, into their hands. While touching the item, people are encouraged to ask the thoughtful question, “Does this spark joy?” If not, it’s time to get rid of it. Thus, for your personal time, I encourage you to do the same. Does the activity (or even lack of agenda) give you joy?

Some people hate Home Depot. Some people hate the gym. I happen to LOVE both. So, on my personal day off I hit them both up. I also decided that tracking down a hidden neighborhood dog park was on my agenda because watching my little puppy sprint across a wide open space makes my heart leap. Lastly, I decided to discard my backlog of American Marketing Association magazines in favor of a book that I will allow to remain nameless, lol. Let’s just say it’s a poorly written, trashy chick-lit novel that doesn’t deserve the $30 I spent on it…except that it kind of does because it provides mindless entertainment value. Gotta love that from time to time.

What makes you really happy? Do you allow yourself time for it? If the answer is no, create time. Out of thin air, if you must. Life is too short not to enjoy yourself here and there.

Remove “Should” From Your Vocabulary

I’m the queen of using my email inbox as my “To Do” list. In other words, if your email hits my main account, I’m responding to it ASAP. On my day off, a few emails pinged in that I felt compelled to respond to right away. But, that would be breaking my own rules. If you’re truly taking time for yourself, allow the “should” tasks to wash away from the world. They’re still going to be there after you relax. In fact, they will never go away because that’s just life. So, why allow them to insert themselves into your brief hiatus? Your Zen is way more important than vacuuming, emails, cleaning your closet, and running errands. For once, your only “should” is what you genuinely want; the thing that warms your heart.

Ladies, you have certainly added to the strength, posterity and well-being of our country and, the world at large. Don’t you deserve Labor Day or another day off, just for yourself? Listen to the little voice that is saying “yeesssssssss!”

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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Powerful Yogi Wisdom

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When I studied yoga in India just over seven years ago, I learned yoga poses, breathing techniques, meditations, mantras, yoga nidra, sanskrit and much more. While these various aspects of yoga can definitely bring us closer to ourselves and to the divine, the life lessons that I learned while in the ashram far exceeded the sun salutations and omkar chants. In fact, one lesson in particular has resonated with me ever since then. I’d like to share this simple wisdom with you today because I believe it has the power to transform how we conduct our lives, and ultimately, how we find satisfaction [and wellness]. Ps – I hope you enjoy the handful of colorful and beautiful pictures I took of India during my stay. 

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Almost every day when I was in India, when the sun was supposed to be at its highest, monsoon rains would pour from the open skies. At this hour, my fellow yogis and I would gather in the shadowy yoga hall to sit at grade-school style desks. We would sit there for about an hour or two, absorbing our guru’s teachings while the rain drowned out the outside world. Guru was a short Indian man, often barefoot, and adorned in long robes. He talked with conviction as he paced back and forth in front of his students and wore a subtle grin that always made me feel like he saw both foolishness and wisdom in our youth and lack of experience.

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“Not all things can be explained,” he said one day. “This is not science.”  Raising one pointed finger in the air, he continued to enlighten us.

“Take this example. I know of a woman in the village. She comes to me one day with tears in her eyes and I ask her – ‘What is wrong, my friend?’ She tells me that she is dying. She has a bad cancer. The doctors tell her she will die. There is no chance she will live. And so she tells me that she is trying to accept that one day she will be dead. She is trying to accept that she is dying.

And this is what I tell her, I say ‘Go and meditate every morning at sunrise. Do your sun salutations. Thank God that you are alive. You are not dead. Only today exists and today you are not dead. You will only be dead if you let yourself die. Go and practice being alive. And be happy.’”

He paused again. His sleeve fell down his arm when he raised his pointer finger higher in the air.

“And you know what?!?” he had asked those of us sitting before him feeling foreign, naïve and perplexed.

“That woman no longer has cancer. A cancer doctor said such a thing would kill her quickly. That was 10 years ago! I tell you, I know this woman! She is alive to this day! All the tests, all the science show now that she is healthy. No signs of cancer.”

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The lesson from that day was “drop expectations.” This woman changed her focus from dying to living and altered her destiny. No matter what, whether your expectations are positive or negative, they have the power to own your mentality, and, if life comes up short, they can leave you feeling empty and dissatisfied.

I can’t say that dropping expectations has been easy for me, but every time I get my hopes up about something and my expectations aren’t met, it’s a little easier for me to stay open-minded and move forward. Life can continue and can be full of joy. This message isn’t to say that life should be banal, devoid of happiness or lacking ambition. It’s simply to say that life gets a whole lot easier when we learn to go with the flow rather than anchoring all of our hopes and happiness on a singular vision of how things should play out. Namaste.WW India 3

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

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