In the corner of my sun-filled living room is a basket of yoga gear: two yoga mats – one purple, one white — a yoga block, some resistance bands, and a few light weights. On most mornings, I lay out one of the yoga mats right in front of the window and do whichever yoga sequence I think feels right. Sometimes I do a yoga video online, other times I freestyle and do a hodgepodge of random poses I remember from books or in-person sessions. This little corner of my apartment acts as an at-home sanctuary, a comfortable spot in the sun where I can lay down and tune out the stressors of the world. However, this little spot where I like to savor solitude wasn't always there.
In fact, just months earlier I used to go to the gym with my boyfriend whenever we had the chance. My time there was usually spent on the elliptical or climbing the stair machine, making sure to get in a few weight reps before I headed home. When I wasn't in the gym, I was taking advantage of different fitness classes offered in my neighborhood — I would do pilates on the weekends, boxing on Wednesday mornings, and spin classes at the community recreation center when I had some extra time on my hands. My fitness routine was synonymous with being outside of my house.
However, this all changed after the loss of my father in December 2019, right before the holidays. As someone who was always on the go, whether running to the gym or a fitness studio or taking a meeting somewhere in the city, my schedule drastically changed. Immediately after his sudden passing, I found myself in a whirlwind of responsibilities because I was his next of kin. I had to plan the wake and the funeral, was in charge of tying up loose ends, and was the one appointed to take care of all of his outstanding business. The weeks following proved to be no different. Because his death was unexpected, a lot of matters that should have been all figured out were not. The more of my dad's stuff I had to take care of, the less time I had to do much of anything else — let alone work out. Although I was honored to be granted the responsibility, I was overwhelmed. I knew I needed to do something for myself.
During this time, I decided that I was going to move my fitness practice to my apartment, convincing myself that my home's tall ceilings and large windows provided a good setting to have a makeshift yoga studio in — and I was right. I set up a little corner in my living room and slowly but surely created a comfortable place for me to practice. At-home yoga quickly became a fixture in my day. Not only was it convenient — the commute to the corner of the room was much closer than the walk to the gym — but it also benefitted me beyond just being a fitness regimen.
After a few months, the practice stuck, and not just because of COVID-19 restrictions. Much to my surprise, I actually liked my at-home sessions better than my time spent at the gym. In fact, I preferred it. There was no whirring of a dozen or so people doing the treadmill at once. There were no fluorescent lights. There was no packing up my things awkwardly in the locker room. There was just me, my thoughts, and emotions, and countless poses for me to channel them through.
My at-home yoga practice proved to me that I could create a calming environment no matter where I was, even if it was just doing downward dog in the corner of my living room next to my cats' water bowls. It showed me that I did not need a fancy gym membership or a room full of expensive exercise equipment to get myself physically and mentally where I needed to be. It created a safe environment and helped me set intentions for my day. Most importantly, it showed me that even through times of turbulence and great pain you can still make small, beneficial changes that could have a big positive impact on you and those around you. All you need is yourself, a spot in the sun, and maybe a yoga mat or two.