Your resolution to cultivate your daily home yoga and meditation practice is a resolution will bring you joy every day. Your home practice is a tool to help you stay grounded and calm in the midst of the swirl of life, with its many ups and downs. Your yoga mat or meditation cushion can be your place of refuge, reflection, self-care and self-connection….your magic carpet of personal transformation.
But it can really be a challenge to stick with a daily practice at home.
Experience has shown me that the 4 most impactful things to help make your home practice stick are:
Rituals are a beautiful and easy way to make your home practice personal, uplifting and inspiring.
Rituals can add depth and distinction, texture and richness, making your practice more meaningful and enjoyable. Rituals offer a sense of ceremony, an atmosphere of peace. They condition your mind and body to move from regular daily life into your personal practice time. And they anchor you to the present moment, keeping you grounded and calm.
Imbued with symbolic meaning, rituals turn your practice into your sacred soul-care time.
So you’ll be inspired and motivated to come back to it regularly, until the practice itself becomes your daily ritual.
10 BEAUTIFUL RITUALS TO EMPOWER YOUR HOME PRACTICE
Try these easy and effective rituals. Even adding just one ritual to your home practice will change the way you experience it. Many of these will be familiar - this time I invite you to see them differently and to use them very intentionally and mindfully. It’s the intention behind the ritual that makes it sacred and symbolic. Choose the ones that feel right for you now, in this moment of your journey. And change them up as you feel the need.
1. Set your intention
Every practice becomes more powerful when it supports your intention. So close your eyes, take a few breaths and set or reaffirm your intention at the start of each practice. This means declaring to yourself a quality that you wish to cultivate during your practice such as patience, forgiveness, courage, strength... Or your intention might be found in asking yourself questions like these:
2. Ignite positive energy
The sacred smoke of burning palo santo wood, known as “holy wood”, has been used for centuries by South American shamans in ceremonies to purify negative energies from spaces, groups of people and individuals, and for raising positive vibrations. At the start of your practice, light a stick of palo santo to cleanse away negative energies and invite in the positive into your space. Gently and safely waft the smoke of your smouldering wood all around the room, making sure to get into all corners to clear out any hidden negative energies. Tune into your intention and visualize you are infusing it with pure positive energy. Always open a window to release the negative energies trapped in the smoke.
Please make sure you use only sustainably sourced palo santo. You could burn wild sage as an alternative.
3. Reconnect with your higher self
There is something magical and evocative in the fragrant fumes of burning incense. Perhaps it’s the scent of it, evoking long forgotten memories, forgotten sensations. Perhaps it’s the power of the smoke itself. Light a stick of all-natural incense and watch the beautiful filament of bluish smoke, envision it rising up and reconnecting you with your higher self.
Like an offering to yourself and to your highest potential.
4. Shine your light
It's a familiar ritual - but think about it differently. A special energy comes from the simple act of lighting a candle. See the golden flame as a symbol of transformation and rebirth, enlightening your journey as you focus on your intention and create the life you desire. The glowing halo of light conquers the darkness, communicates warmth and connects us to others. Here are two ways to create a beautiful candle ritual for your practice:
a.Mindfully light a candle in honour of your intention and as a symbolic way to bring it into your life. Meditate on the flame of your intention for a few moments. And when you blow it out at the end of practice, send your intention out to the universe and let go of any expectations.
b. At the beginning of your practice, light a candle in your window to share your presence with others. At the end, as you blow out the candle send a whoosh of positive thoughts and support out to your neighbours. This is especially useful in times like these when we all may feel a little isolated.
Don’t forget to keep the candle flame away from drafts, draperies and other flammable materials and never leave it unattended.
5. Call in the 4 directions
Borrow this shamanic tradition to create sacred space for your practice and to connect with the healing power of the natural world. At the start of your practice invoke each direction. Start by standing to face east; then turn to face south, then west, and finally north. Each direction has symbolic significance that you can reflect on and connect with:
It's worth going deeper into this ritual if it interests you, perhaps by seeking someone on the shamanic path or someone from a First Nation or Native American tradition. It will vary from tradition to tradition.
6. Let go
If you need to release something that is holding you back in your life (anger, disappointment, a person, a story, etc.) find an object in nature that symbolizes it, or write it on a piece of paper. Place it your altar, light a candle to it, and dedicate your practice to letting it go. Afterwards, with awareness and intention, release the symbolic object back into nature. If you’ve written it down, float the paper down a stream or burn it safely in a smudge bowl or other fire-proof container.
Letting go and releasing things that no longer serve us positively can be really powerful.
7. Count your blessings
Gratitude puts everything into perspective, helps us to stay grounded in the present, and to focus on what is real and truly important. At the beginning or end of your practice session, take a minute to two to list in your mind or your journal the people, the experiences, the lessons, the things you are grateful for in thate moment. And be sure to express gratitude to yourself for showing up to practice.
8. Invite your singing bowl
“Invite” your singing bowl and send love and joy from your heart out into the world on the waves of its beautiful sound and rich vibrations.
At Plum Village, Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness centre, they use the kind and gentle term “invite the bell” instead of strike or ring it. Instead of “striker” the stick used to make the sound is the “inviter. Breath in…breath out… three times. Then invite your bowl to sing its enchanting sound. Breathing with the vibrations of the bowl, sending your good intentions and positive energy out into the world.
if you don’t have a singing bowl, you could also use a bell or chimes.
9. Enable your higher self to speak
At the end of your practice, get your journal and a favourite pen and start writing in a non-stop stream of consciousness for 10 minutes or so. Just write whatever comes to mind, let the ideas and the thoughts flow freely…as though it’s your higher self speaking. Don’t try to edit, don’t worry about spelling and grammar, don’t judge what appears on the page. You might be surprised by the messages your higher self has to share with you!
10. Have a tea ceremony
If you enjoy a cup of tea at the end of your practice, make it a mindfulness experience.
As you make and drink your cup of tea (or other favourite hot drink), pay close attention to the experience. Notice the motions you make, the sounds elicited from the process, the scents, the colours, the steam on your face, the temperature of the cup in your hands, the taste in your mouth. Take a moment to really notice all the details. Be fully alive to it, fully present. Savour. You may be surprised by how much you notice when you really pay attention.
Enjoying a cup of tea at the end of your practice is the perfect way to absorb the effects of your practice and to close it with a sense of ceremony.
Now it's your turn! What rituals do you like to include in your home yoga and meditation practice? Please share in the comments below.
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