Somehow we’ve reached the end of February! I never want to wish time away, but every year I’m relieved when we get here. The short and cold days of winter are hard for me and the longer warmer days make life a little easier. I used to try to resist the memo from the natural world to slow down this time of year, which, to the surprise of no one, never went well.
This year I leaned in to hibernation hard (hello, melted cheese for dinner most nights) and I was rewarded with winter’s best feature: snow! I’m grateful to say I spent last week’s polar vortex participating in “snowga” challenges on Instagram and not shivering under layers of clothes and blankets without electricity, like my beloved people in Texas and Oregon were forced to do for days. We had a precautionary water boil advisory in Memphis due to low water pressure from breaking pipes and mains, but that was no problem and easy to follow since most of the water I drink this time of year is already boiled for coffee or tea. Oh and I couldn’t get my car out of the snowy driveway, so I had to teach yoga online. But hey I do that anyway and the snow melted (like, it was completely gone) two days later.
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If winter is hard for you too, I’m here to offer a short and sweet, 10-step guide to get you warm and practicing on your mat, sprinkled with a sneaky message of gratitude. Look, I’m in no position to force gratitude on anyone, but I will say that practicing gratitude does wonders to reverse the unchecked effects of negativity bias in my brain. An example from my real life: I share a one-bedroom with my partner and we both work from home. To say that’s been challenging to live and work in such a small space is an understatement. Space and aesthetics are really important to me and I feel like I’m compromising a lot. This only child (I’m pointing two thumbs at myself here) needs and cherishes her own space, hasn’t had it for years, and feels grumpy about it on a daily basis.
So it cracks me up when I’m teaching or taking a yoga class and someone compliments my practice space. They even add: “Wow, it looks so spacious!” to which I say: “Welcome to my living room in the sky!” I’ve deceived my sweet sangha (community) without even trying. With this perspective shift, my negativity bias of being mad at the truth of the way things are is turned into gratitude for what is. Through this lens, I have:
- a roof over my head and four walls around me.
- a functioning heat pump.
- intact pipes that didn’t freeze and break.
- access to hot and clean water (now that the water boil advisory is lifted).
- the physical ability to move furniture.
- food in my fridge and pantry that lasted for more than a week.
- enough space to practice and teach yoga from home.
Yes, I have a vision board in my head of a tranquil yoga space with well-lit freshly-painted white walls, a simple bookshelf, a few props, and plants in the background. It will have to wait, but I trust it will materialize.
So if treacherous weather or the NY Times coronavirus tracker is keeping you out of the studio, here’s how to set up your space to practice yoga virtually at home.
For a short and sped-up version of these steps, check out the video I made on Instagram:
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10 Steps to Set Up Your Yoga Space at Home
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If you practice with me or another online teacher and you want feedback on your practice, here are some things to consider when setting up your yoga space at home:
- Wide-angle: You’ll need an angle wide enough for your laptop or mobile device to capture all of you, head-to-toe (it’s okay if your head doesn’t make it fully into the frame; this happens to me sometimes!)
- Tripod to adjust camera up & down: you’ll need to move your camera angle up or down. I do this with Zoom on my laptop.
- Remove distractions: turn your phone on silent, close the door, put up a shoji shade between you and your home office (see the Instagram video above for how I do this!), close the programs on your computer, and turn off notification dings.
- Clean floor = clean mind: less clutter means fewer distractions and more clarity on and off the yoga mat. Get rid of what you don’t need. If you can, sweep or Swiffer your floors to minimize dust bunnies.
- Run updates: Zoom runs best when updated. If you’re experiencing weird audio or video issues, run updates. Get in the habit of doing this before you join your class.
- Consider the background: to help your teacher see you, consider a contrasting background or light your space so they can see you well and give feedback. I use this tripod, and ring light, and Bluetooth remote which helps a lot in the winter.
- Fake it: If you’re struggling to dial in just the right levels of color and light in the background, Zoom has lots of fun virtual backgrounds to transform your space.
- Children, partners, and pets: after Zooming together for a year, hopefully, we can embrace the fact that we are real people and not Stepford wives. If your family and animals are too distracting for you, ask for space and close the door. As for pets: ignore them and they will likely go away, or accept their affectionate distractions.
- Mute or mic yourself: if your partner is having a conversation or making a meal or a trash truck is driving past your house, mute yourself to eliminate background noise for everyone else. If you’re teaching, try to use Bluetooth headphones. I use a pair of Apple AirPods to listen and speak while teaching, and my students say they can hear me well!
- Treat yourself: make sure your yoga mats and props are in good repair and in colors that make you happy. One of my favorite yoga mat brands is Liforme which comes in so many colors, biodegrades quickly in a landfill, and donates money to environmental and social causes. Get 10 percent off a Liforme mat when you shop with this link!
I hope this inspires you to practice or prepare your sacred home space for virtual practice! If any of this sparked inspiration or you have a question, leave a comment below.
If you want to practice yoga with me, check out my online teaching schedule!
Find your breath, then breathe and believe!