06 Jun Yoga + Nature: How to Create a Sacred Space Outside
By Leslie don Ross
“Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows.” Native American Proverb
There is something special about practicing yoga in a sacred space outside. The senses heighten, drinking in the activity of the natural world around you. The sounds of the birds, the wind on your face, the smell of the grass, the vibrant colors, the intensity of the sun or the shapes of the clouds and the feel of the rocks remind us of the natural ebb and flow of the macrosom, a universe of greater cycles that we are part of. This awareness evokes feelings spaciousness and of connection on a deeper level. And when coupled with practice in an outdoor sacred space, this connection is even further elevated.
Opening our senses to the natural world, opens our level of awareness to step more fully into the present. Whether your practice space is on patch of grass at a park, under your favorite tree or on the banks of a nearby stream, creating a sacred outside space can be an avenue towards deeper connection with self and world in which we live. Through creating a sacred practice space outdoors we tap into our Yoga, (to Yoke- to unite) not only through connecting with our surroundings, but through opening a door to experience non-dual reality where all is connected.
So what is a sacred space? “A sacred place is first of all a defined place, a space distinguished from other spaces. … A sacred place focuses attention on the forms, objects, and actions in it and reveals them as bearers of (spiritual) religious meaning…. It includes spaces that can be entered physically, as the outer geography of a holy land, imaginatively, as the inner geography of the body in Tantric yoga, or visually, as the space of a manḍala. “ encyclopedia.com/
Your sacred space can take many shapes and forms and be as simple or as complex as your intention. Regardless if if it is a mandala, alter, path, or small meditation space or you have any physical/material components to your space, the most important aspect is interpretation and intention. Think outside the box (literally) when selecting your sacred space. Any place can be transformed just by shifting your focus on the purpose and function of the space. The process is simple; begin with an intention to help guide the process, then manifest this intention into action and finish by activating and spending time your creation. Through the intention and the materials you incorporate your space will become a unique and powerful loka (center) for meditation, reflection and honoring of the goddess.
Step #1: What is your Vision or Intention?
Identify your needs and purpose for the space. Will it be a temporary or permanent space? Take time to sit outdoors, tapping into your senses to find clarity on the feel of your space. Let nature inform you in relationship to the location and orientation of the space. Keith Basso (Wisdom Sits in Places) shares that how when we connect with a place, we connect with self on a deeper level. “Knowledge of places is closely linked to knowledge of the self, to grasping one’s position in the larger scheme of things, including one’s own community, and to securing a confident sense of who one is a person.”
Step #2: Manifesting ~The Creation:
Gather your supplies (physical/material or energetic/mantra/prayer) and then listen to the earth/spirit for what is necessary and what is not. For our beach mandala, we brought flowers and fruit and then gathered found objects from the shore to complete our sacred space. We each took turns adorning the mandala, resulting in a powerful experience not only during the creation process but with the end result. For our home alter, we gathered rocks and found objects from the yard and then added special crystals, geodes, fabric, a small table, prayer flags, incense, candles and chimes to adorn the space.
Step #3: Ignite the space ~Clear the Energy, Set an Intention (Sankalpa) , Honor your Space
Clear your space, energetically and/or physically. Clearing can be done through the act of smudging the space with sage or palo santo, or energetically through mantra, meditation, Reiki or simply by breathing in the space and setting an intention of purification to support personal growth and your spiritual practice. Bring your hands into prayer (namaskar/namaste) before entering and exiting your space or offer three half sun salutes to call in the energies you are seeking and to ask all others that do not support you and your highest good to leave the space. Bless your space in the way that is natural and inspired. One example is to honor the gifts of the 4 Directions through a prayer and or by placing objects in each of the four Cardinal directions.
Blessing of the The Four Directions:
From the East, may I be reminded that the rising of each new sun is an opportunity for growth and look at life with fresh eyes.
From the South, help me to maintain the fire and playfulness in life.
From the West, let me be reminded to stay fluid and to continue to be compassionate towards others.
And from the North, may I find sustenance, security, support, and grounding.
Step #4 Use the Space
And lastly, practice in your sacred space not only to bring energy to your outdoor alter but to increase the prana and shakti of your internal alter. Let the experience of practicing in your outdoor sacred space ignite a deeper sense of connection with self and others and continue to inspire you to live a more connected sustainable life knowing the interconnectivity of all beings.
Your Turn….Create your outdoor sacred space this spring to reconnect with your true essence. Or join us this summer at the Hanuman Festival to share in the sacred spaces that the Festival Team will create for all of us to enjoy and find inspiration.