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There is a lovely memoir by American novelist Dani Shapiro called Devotion that charts her spiritual journey through yoga, meditation and Judaism. One chapter that struck a chord draws from an ancient yogic manuscript… It reminded me that we should always be aware of our environment when practicing yoga, and that cultivating a clear, calm space for our practice is an important part of the journey. Here’s what Shapiro writes:

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The Hatha Yoga Pridapika, a fifteenth-century text considered to this day to be the classic work on Hatha yoga, was written by an Indian yogi named Svatmarama, about whom little is known. Svatmarama lays out the optimal conditions for the practice of Hatha yoga (hatha simply meaning the physical practice of yoga) in the following way:

“The Hatha yogi should live in a secluded hut free of stones, fire, and dampness to a distance of four cubits in a country which is properly governed, virtuous, prosperous and peaceful. These are the marks of a yoga hut as described by masters practicing Hatha: a small door, no windows, no rat holes; not too high, too low, or too long; well-plastered with cow dung, clean and bug free. The grounds are enclosed by a wall, and beautified by an arbor, a raised platform, and a well. Living in this hut, free of all anxieties, one should earnestly practice yoga as taught by one’s guru.”

How does your environment influence your practice? Where is your ideal place to do yoga? Please share in the comments!

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