July 29, 2021
Somewhere in the middle of 2020 I noticed my yoga practice was suffering. And when I say “suffering” I mean, I wasn’t practicing at all. I was teaching but not practicing and that began to take it’s toll on me, mentally and physically. It’s not as if I even had to do much to get myself to a class, everything was on Zoom, all I had to do was throw my mat down and there I was. The problem was that I didn’t have any room to practice yoga at home.
That’s not to say that the house I live in is too small, it’s that I had no privacy. I have a roommate and the only space suitable enough for me to practice in is a common space in the living room where my roommate, and our dogs, walked through frequently and even though she was always courteous and careful to be quiet, it still felt distracting. My own bedroom wasn’t an option either because it was only a 10×10 space most of which was taken up by my king-sized bed and two 65lb canines, and so I eventually stopped practicing.
I tried to replace my physical practice with meditation, which of course is a beautiful practice on it’s own, but it wasn’t enough for my body and mind, and after quite a few months, they started letting me know…loudly. I was depressed, disconnected, my body hurt in places it had never hurt before, I felt like I was sinking below the surface and just as I took one last gasp of air before my head went under, I had a revelation and that revelation came from a murderer.
That’s probably being a bit dramatic but it’s also true. I’m HUGE into true crime podcasts and documentaries, and like all true crime fanatics, at this point I’m positive I could solve a crime myself. (adds crime fighter to resume). So, as mentioned, I’m sinking into this bleak pit of despair, I hate everyone and everything, mostly myself, and I’ve curled myself up in my bed with an episode of some true crime series from the 90s/early 2000s on and I’m barely paying attention until this convicted murderer starts talking about how yoga has helped him turn his life around and that although he knows he’s going to spend the rest of his life in a 6×8 foot cell, it doesn’t matter because he has yoga to turn to. And that’s when I really perked up.
A 6×8 foot cell. This man, who is taller than I am and most certainly wider, practices yoga in a space no wider or longer than a yoga mat…and it works for him! Well, if this large man can make his yoga practice fit in a tiny space, then so can I! I got up off my bed that instant, and unfurled (unfurling implies a sense of drama and suspense so yes, I unfurled) my yoga mat onto what little floor space I had and I started doing some calculations. One way or another, I was going to find a way to practice my yoga at home.
I had three inches on either side of my mat, and, if I placed my mat just right, I had about one foot of space at the top and two to three feet at the back. Plenty of space according to Murder Guy! He also had a tiny alter near the top of his mat and there was no way some locked-up-for-life felon was going to have an alter and I wasn’t so I ALSO made myself a tiny altar on top of a small dresser near the top of my mat. It was just a candle and incense on a red scarf but it made the space feel more special and peaceful.
The next Zoom class that came around I found myself excited to practice again, to try all the usual poses and flows and see how I could fit them into my tiny new yoga refuge. It was beautiful, I smiled through the entire class, and obviously cried in the hip opener, proud of myself for adapting, which has NEVER been a strong skill of mine. The best part? Those two precious mutts of mine get themselves cozy on my bed in their own goofy yoga poses while I practice and, as everyone knows, dogs make everything better…including yoga.
That whole experience made me realize that quite often in my life, when I’m presented with a situation that seems like an “impossibility” I’ve just accepted it as that, impossible, or at the very least, not ideal. I never even considered that I might have to be the thing that did the adapting. I adapt yoga poses for my body all the time, why not adapt MYSELF for my yoga practice? Or for anything else in my life that brings me peace and keeps me connected?
As this pandemic has begun to wind down I find myself attending more in-person classes than online classes because there’s nothing that can replace that feeling of connection with other yogis and their energies. But don’t worry, I haven’t completely abandoned my tiny yoga refuge. It’s still there for me when I need it, the smallness of it makes me feel safe and held and I know that someday in the future, when I’m living on my own again, I’m going to miss my little three foot by eight foot sanctuary and the peace I found there.
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