I’ve been working on a little project. And no, the project isn’t “How to take really shitty iPhone photos and then Photoshop them to death because you can’t correct the color.” The project I’m talking about is “How to turn that spare room into a yoga retreat while you can still enjoy it, i.e., before said room and your life are completely overrun by your hypothetical future progeny.”
I feel incredibly lucky to have the mythical, Virginia Woolf room of my own. The problem is that computing alone is lonely, and it’s annoying to have to shout taunts all the way across the hall while gaming with my boyfriend. The gaming station set up near his desk has increasingly become my all-around computing, blogging and working-from-home station. Filled with dusty knickknacks and piles of junk mail, my room lay abandoned, much like my couch after I realized how much Caprica sucked. (Incidentally, I was not surprised to hear it had been canceled.)
Anyway, I had recently signed up for classes at my favorite local yoga studio when I ran across the blog Sweet Tater, specifically the post Yoga with Cats, written by Katie, who “accidentally” lost 25 pounds by doing loads of yoga and eating well.
I thought back to my Bikram yoga experiment, where I got 20 days of yoga for $20 and went almost every day. I could understand how effective a long-term, near-daily practice could be. But I don’t want to be stuck with Bikram’s 26 poses and pushy instructor style, and I can’t really afford unlimited yoga classes elsewhere. This leaves doing yoga as a home practice.
I’ve certainly done enough yoga to feel confident having a home practice. There are just a few catches. First of all, my cat attacks me whenever I’m in downward dog. Secondly, practicing on carpet doesn’t let me ground my hands and feet enough to be comfortable on my totally whacked-out programmer’s wrists. Thirdly, my house runs cold and I’m a wuss, so I’m generally miserable when I try to do yoga in the kitchen, which is the only tiled room in my house that doesn’t have any toilets. Also, the kitchen usually smells like those Ling-Ling potstickers you can get in bulk from Costco. Not very zen.
My room has a door, which would repel the felines, and I have a great little space heater. So how do I get around the carpeting issue? New flooring is not an option.
The first thing I tried was emailing YogaToday to find out if I could purchase those neato platforms their instructors use in their videos. Nerp, custom-built. I looked into making my own platform, but the only power tool I own is a drill. Then I had a crazy idea. What about a single, solitary tatami mat?
Eureka! In fact, tatami mats are used in Japanese aikido studios both because it’s very traditional and because they’re firm yet springy. They’re several inches thick, with a compacted rice straw core and a woven rush straw exterior. Most tatami mats are a very specific size which isn’t quite long enough to accommodate a yoga mat, but I discovered that some platform beds are built to have custom-sized tatami mats set in the frame rather than wooden slats. A queen-sized platform bed takes two “queen-sized” tatami mats, which happen to be several inches wider and longer than a standard yoga mat.
Unfortunately, they weigh about 60 pounds, so shipping is rather expensive. Fortunately, there is a shop a few miles away from my house called Futon-Ya that carries them, so I could avoid the shipping by picking it up myself.
So there you have it! I disassembled the Ikea desk that took up the majority of the room, threw out a few bags of junk, tried to hide enough of my clutter that it wouldn’t distract me from my vinyasa, and set my laptop up on a couple of boxes covered with some fabric originally intended for window curtains.
It feels heavenly. I can get a good, firm grip in down dog. And it’s pretty easy to prop up against the wall or in the closet to temporarily get it out of the way. I can do yoga freestyle, or try the YogaToday free weekly video, or a podcast like Elise’s Yoga Kula. Tonight I did YogaToday and actually got into a headstand! Which is something I thought my shoulders were too tight for, but I’m now starting to suspect was more like me being a wuss in group class.
And, you know, since tatami mats are traditionally an everything kind of surface, I guess I could always get one more queen-sized tatami mat and a queen-sized futon and call my yoga studio a spare bedroom. 😉
Do you work out, practice yoga or meditate at home?
How do you make your space conducive for your activity?