Pressing Onward

I spent most of the day yesterday working on the floor and I managed to finish all the wood working.  The surfaces are all sanded, the edges are nicely finished and the hand holds are done.  It was with great satisfaction that I started to apply the finish to the sides that will be the bottom of the floor.  A number of times during and since then I’ve asked myself why I am making this myself instead of simply purchasing a floor online (beginning at $150) as it would have been cheaper and much less of a headache.  The answer is rather simple:  I have no space that I set aside, dedicate if you will, to just Yoga.

When I first began practicing asanas, I felt that having a dedicated practice area was unnecessary and really only for those who are really into Yoga.  Since then, two things have happened:  I’ve come to understand why having an area just for practicing is such a good idea and I’ve become one of those who are really into Yoga.  Whether I was right in the beginning and dedicated practice areas are still only for those who are really into Yoga is now a question for the philosophical.  Here, however, are the reasons that I believe a dedicated space is beneficial to any form of practice:  Spaces evoke responses.  Sit at a dinner table with a place setting before you and the aroma of your favorite meal wafting through the air and your mouth will water.  Your stomach may even rumble in anticipation.  Many pre-schools use small rugs as seats for the children to sit on the floor during story time.  Given a similar situation outside of the pre-school, namely a small rug placed in front of a chair and an adult with a story book, a child who has experienced this setting in the pre-school will automatically know to sit on the little rug and listen.  Having a space that is dedicated to one purpose means that simply entering that space will help evoke responses appropriate for the activity to which the space is dedicated regardless of the activity.  Whether it is painting, writing, practicing music or asanas the principle is the same:  Having a dedicated space enhances the activity instead of distracts from it.

Some of us have limited space and simply cannot carve out a space solely for a single purpose.  For asana practice, this is easily solved by using a mat, practice rug or similar prop.  Being on the mat helps to draw one into the practice but there are two problems with relying solely on a mat or rug.  The first is that there are still distractions all around, something that can be eliminated with a dedicated space.  The second is that a mat or rug requires a firm floor and there may be only thick, luxurious, dangerous, hard to work on shag which is often the situation that I face.  Again, a dedicated space is not likely to have this problem.  It was this second aspect which made me realize that I needed a portable practice floor.

Which now brings me back to why I am building my own floor instead of buying one.  There are a couple of reasons.  Firstly, there really isn’t a floor available for a good price that has the dimensions that I really want.  When I am in svasana, my hands are about 40 inches apart.  If I use a floor that is only 36 inches wide then I am guaranteed that the edge of the floor will be under at least one of my hands if not both, a distraction that I just don’t need.  Also, it is very impractical for me to make a pilgrimage to some faraway place (or even a nearby place) and study under the tutelage of a guru, I have a family and for some reason abandoning them to make such a pilgrimage just does not seem right for some reason.  Instead of making such a journey, I am using this time crafting and finishing my floor as a foreshortened pilgrimage of my own.  Every moment I’ve spent working on it, I’ve also spent focusing on what I am doing and why I am doing it.  Each night I’ve returned home mentally and physically exhausted.  All of these are things I will remember each time I even see this floor.  Finally, it is easy to find fault with or even completely ignore the handiwork of another, just think of the number of exercise bikes or weight machines that are gathering dust in homes.  While it is even easier to find fault with one’s own handiwork, it is that much more difficult to ignore one’s own work.  This floor will be a constant reminder of Yoga in my life and it will remind me that I have made it to remove an obstacle to my keeping Yoga in my life.

My reasoning for making this floor is rather complicated but it is because my reasoning is so complicated that I felt that I simply must do this thing.