Creating your own sacred yogic space…
Everyone can find some space somewhere in the home for an altar, a few beads and some candles, even if it is small and even if it isn’t terribly glamorous. Just like on your mat, your intention is the key here. Spend a few moments in contemplation to get a sense of what you want to place on your altar, and when I say altar, it can literally be anything from a wooden side table or milk crate covered with decorative cloth, to a more stylised base, carved indian-style. The gods and goddesses don’t mind what you use as long as you infuse the space with love and devotion!
There’s no generic rule for placement and direction of altars. Everyone has a direction that is auspicious for them. One aspect of home design is to have an ancestral altar facing the front door so it welcomes you home, but your personal place of worship/ritual should face in an auspicious direction that is dictated by your specific natal chart. Basically ‘feel’ out around your home for a suitable place that is light, airy, relatively quiet/private and undisturbed by draft. You may like to put up a bamboo screen or some pot plants to separate a small area away from the main room if you are pressed for space.
Hunt around local markets and vintage and red cross shops in the hope of finding some unique piece of furniture, esoteric carving, tasselled fabric or bowls for beads, candles and crystals – it’s always good to recycle. Just make sure you cleanse anything second-hand by either rinsing it in salted water and/or leaving it out under the full moon. This will purify and charge everything properly so the energy you create with your altar is clear and powerful and yours.
Think of adding these:
Candles – several colors depending on your mood or the energy you wish to create from day to day.
Incense – any fragrance is fine but traditionally sandalwood, frankincense, sage and nag champa work well. Make sure you have a safe holder for all incense and of course, never leave it burning unattended! Same goes for candles.
Mala/prayer beads – made of wood or crystal, they look lovely draped over large crystals or statues, or just coiled up softly on their own. Mala beads are used as a meditation tool, working each bead between the fingers whilst chanting mantra or zoning out in whatever manner you choose.. they are potent and again, you can charge in the moonlight.
Tibetan bowls – singing bowls, chimes and bells are traditional altar pieces that you can find in most spiritually minded shops or online as well.
Statues – Buddha, Shiva, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Durga, Ganesha, the list goes on… find one that resonates with you (read about them first and meditate on which connects with you or pulls you the most) and then place at the centre of your altar. It doesn’t matter about size, it’s more about finding the right guide for you, so reading about the gods and goddesses is helpful when choosing whom to devote your attention and intentions too.
Cloth – find some indian sari-style fabric, sarongs, veils etc to cover your altar and make it as decorative and appealing as you can. This is a space where you WANT to come and sit at, a space that calls you each day, so make it special.
Talismans – these can be anything from shells, statues, jewels, carvings, dream catchers, tarot cards, feathers, beads etc, that have either sentimental and/or energetic value to you. Ideally charge under the full moon and in ritual and place close to your devotional statue.
Flowers – fresh is best of course, but you can get some amazing faux ones that look just as pretty. A piece of fruit is also appropriate.
Cushions – it makes it more comfortable if you can sit quietly in mediation without being distracted by aching knees or cranky ankles, so get a good meditation cushion to support your posture whilst you are at your altar.
Altars aren’t just for mediating in front of either. You can roll out your mat and do your daily yoga practice facing your altar, starting and finishing your asana and pranayama practice in silent prayer and gratitude before you move into your day or evening. Yoga is so much more than just a physical activity – not only does it engage every single cell of your being, it massages your heart and soul bringing you closer to the Divine within and around.
Essentially, your yoga space should be one that stills your mind and makes you feel peaceful and safe. Your special place to regroup and rejuvenate… be it in through asana, meditation, chanting or some other ritual practice… aim to honour yourself and your sacred space every day and feel the love radiate from the inside out…
And if you need a hand or want more information about altar bits’n’pieces, please visit the following sites and connect with these wonderful guides connected to Breathing Space Yoga:
Stacey Demarco: www.themodernwitch.com
Thomas Walsh: Chinese Astrology and readings – email@example.com
Jo Leak: Mala bead designs/Harmony Tree – 0424 666 421