As yogis we know our inner strength, our boundaries, our edges, when to push through and when it’s best to relax. Our thoughts come and go with the ebb and flow of our breath, the rhythm of our asana.
Despite the noise of the world around us, yoga creates a quiet space inside, clearing away the mind-chatter so our innermost needs and hopes can be known. Sometimes they may come in a whisper and at other times in a flash of clarity or a long-held desire or dream.
The use of ritual in our home practice can help bring those whispers to life, nurturing them into a courageous roar! of action, inspiring us to follow through on what we often already know.
Below are 5 ways you can integrate the power of ritual into your home practice:
1. Create Space
Have a dedicated and clutter-free area for your practice. Steamer trunks or other storage units are great ways to keep everything like mats, props and books accessible and ready-to-use. This is especially helpful if you have a room that needs to serve multiple purposes throughout the day.
Placing plants, flowers, crystals or personal items you love can also bring meaning and create a space that’s as enjoyable to look at, as it is to be in.
Smudging (burning white sage or sweet grass) has been used by Native Americans in ceremonies and is also a great way to clear a space as a form of ritual. Beyond the traditional idea that smudging can dispel negative energies, it can also add a lovely aroma and set the stage for deeper meditation.
2. Sacred Scent
Essential Oils, whether diffused through the air or placed on your wrists, neck, or temple, can calm (lavender, bergamot) or energize you (peppermint, citrus oils). They provide pause for greater awareness and a deeper experience on the mat or during savasana. Just make sure that the oil you’re using can be applied directly to your skin as some oils need to be combined with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil to be used topically.
Resins like frankincense and myrrh or Japanese incense made from sandalwood and spices are also great, natural options. Being mindful when applying or using aromas can evoke a peaceful and reflective state.
Sound is one of the most ancient ritual elements. Music can lift your spirits and resonate in unexpected ways. Tibetan singing bowls or kirtan (chanting) can be powerful ways to begin or end your practice.
By creating your own playlist or getting inspired by your favorite yoga teachers on Spotify, there are many ways to bring greater meaning to the mat.
4. Mantras & Meditation
Thoughts are things. People can be in the same situation but take away completely different experiences based solely on the words they use and the stories they tell themselves. Numerous studies have shown how a positive attitude impacts how fast someone will recover from illness. The power of words is undeniable.
Using words to ground our experience is one of most impactful ways to bring meaning to the mat. Dedicating your practice to someone you love or holding gratitude in your heart at the beginning or end of practice reminds you of what you do have vs. what you don’t.
Placing a word at the top of your mat that you can look at as you progress through your flow keeps a quality you want to embody – clarity, peace, love or adventure – top of mind. It can be a word you write on a piece of paper or you could keep a bag filled with different words or quotes and serendipitously pick one either at the beginning or end of your practice.
5. Let there be Light!
Lighting candles creates a warm and soothing ambiance. They can be chosen for their aroma or color and fill your space with a calm, reflective feeling. Using candles as a focal point for meditation also helps center you in the present moment.
The simple ritual of holding an intention or word while you light the candle or blow it out can bring that quality further into your consciousness. A single word like courage or love may come to mind. The first word that comes to your mind is usually what you need most in your life. Sometimes the word that comes to you may be something you need to release or let go of – the idea is to not edit yourself. We censor ourselves too often in our daily lives and the ability to simply be without all the stories and expectations we usually hold against ourselves can reveal what really matters most.
Photo by Ali Kaukas
Kara Fujita Jovic believes in the power of the breath to center the soul…that love is a super power—for it always speaks the loudest…and that dancing in the kitchen while singing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” may just infuse a meal with magical powers. When she’s not getting caffeinated on fresh air, sunshine, or the sea, you can find her creating, exploring, writing, and helping people find their own personal om.