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Spring cleaning

How freshening things up at home can provide a fresh lift to your practice. By Victoria Jackson

I did a bit of yoga spring cleaning recently – better late than never! I’ve been laundering cushion covers and topping up the filling in my bolsters. The floor is gritty with buckwheat hulls that escaped during the process. I’ve swept up so many times, but there always seem to be a few more. They’re the yoga equivalent of those polystyrene packaging bobbles that end up everywhere. But it’s worth the effort because I love my bolsters and I usually finish my home practice cuddling up with them for a few restorative postures. Although my asana practice gets more energetic as the days lengthen, it still feels good to close with some longer, softer poses. It provides balance and stops things getting overwhelmingly yang.

Given how happy I am playing around with my bolsters at home, it’s easy to think it’s always been this way, but I remember well my first experiences of Restorative Yoga classes and how baffling the array of props seemed then. I had to pay really close attention to the teacher’s demonstrations and it used to feel like such a distraction – needing to fold blankets just so, arrange the bolsters carefully, and figure out what to do with so many blocks. Can’t we just get on with it? Does it really need so much fuss?

But, like any ritual, at some point I came to love this need for careful preparation. Taking the time to set up for a pose so that it feels just so, and learning how best to support my body so I let go of muscular tension – all this is now intrinsic to the practice, not at all a distraction from it. It’s almost as though all the attention I put into anatomical alignment in a vinyasa practice is here translated into good alignment of my bolster and blankets. And if I stay in a posture for some time, then comfort is everything and the details really matter. Experience has taught me that any physical niggle or distraction gets magnified over time and even trivial things can come to feel pretty excruciating. It’s hard to ignore a wrinkly blanket that’s digging into your spine.

And now that I’ve learned how to arrange a yoga blanket so neatly, maybe in the rest of my spring cleaning I can figure out the advanced skill of folding up a fitted bedsheet equally smoothly? I do love to be able to apply my yoga skills to real-life situations. Maybe there’s some meditative act possible in the domestic ritual of folding bed linen and putting away the clean laundry. A sort of applied Restorative Yoga!

Victoria Jackson lives and teaches in Oxford. She is registered with Yoga Alliance Professionals as a vinyasa yoga teacher. Read more of Victoria’s OM Lite columns.

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