Om, Sweet Om: The Catharsis of Home Improvement

The Hardest Part About Practicing Yoga is Getting to Practice. 

And for that reason I’ve long been a proponent of yoga podcasts.  Not to discount the bliss of venturing to the yoga studio to tap into a little collective ujayi, but sometimes there’s that one last voicemail at work, or the happy hour waiter who lags closing your tab, or the snooze button you can’t stop treating like the Charlie Murphy to your Rick James (cold blooded), and you just can’t make it.  Known, at least in my PRE-30 live as “someone who’s just 15 minutes late for life,” I practically wrote the book on what to do when you arrive at yoga to find 17 Darth-Vadar wheezing child posing timely yogis who were already conjuring intentions while you were frantically circling back to that parking meter four blocks away.

But convenience isn’t everything.  I mean, of course it’s huge to know the sun salutation doesn’t necessarily have to set on you when you can’t get to the studio on time, but what about the place where you end up practicing?  There’s the un-fung of the shui in the shoulder-wide landing strip of space between your couch and coffee table.  Then there’s the corner of that same coffee table that you can never seem to avoid with your protruding ankle bone on your way back to 3-legged dog.  And who doesn’t dread the too-bright overhead ceiling fan light searing like a hot knife through your buttery savasana?  Needless to say, it’s not ideal.

This brings me back to my recent endeavors in the alchemy of turning lemons to lemonade.  Faced recently with the addition to my apartment of a beautifully blank wide open canvas of a former guest room, I thought: “Why not?”  Why not turn it into the in-home yoga studio I never thought I’d ever be evolved enough to actually effectuate?  So I did:

Credit: Moi

And here’s how I did it:

Imagine the Image

The inspiration for this mural project came from the font of all modern creativity: a holy intersection of Anthropologie and Pinterest.  One happy pinner did a similar project inspired by Anthropologie store décor by nailing paper letters to the wall, removing the paper, then surrounding the nails with colored yarn.  I initially planned to get creative the way any self-respecting Gen-Y kid would – by copying it verbatim.  I thought I’d nail the words “Om, Sweet Om” on the wall.  The problem was that my wall is so big, so blank, and so gray.  So cover the wall with three words (two of a measly two letters, no lesss) the font would have to be so bold and so tall that the end result would have been and oppressive display of positively Orwellian proportions.

First I had to fill all that space; so big, so blank, so gray!  I decided the most peaceful, pretty, zen, and horizontal image would be outstretched cherry blossom branches, and then I set out on Google Images to find the perfect version.  Lucky for me, every Pinterest denizen on planet earth has used, had a friend who used, or wants to be the kind of future some-sweet-day homeowner who will use cherry blossom wall decals.  I found a perfectly horizontal image that had just the right ratio of branch to blossom (a key ratio, by the way).  I copy/pasted it to word, and saved.  Then I edited the image, flipping it 180 degrees on its y-axis to reverse it.  The idea was to have a branch extending across the big, blank, gray (!) wall from either side.  I sized one of the branches down a wee bit, just so they wouldn’t be perfect mirror images of each other.

Credit: Moi

Get Gridiculous

You’ll see above where I covered both images with a 1”x1” grid.  That’s the sophistication of a ruler and a good ol’ number 2 graphite pencil right there.  Simple mind, simple solution.  The thought here was to re-create the art of my youth (Mrs. Goulet, first grade, she knew what was up.) by putting a grid on the image, putting a larger grid with masking tape on the wall, then transposing the small image onto the wall by copying one grid box at a time. 

Credit: Moi

I didn’t actually draw the entire tree.  I just made pencil dots on the wall where the lines of the branches changed direction; think pivot-points.  Next to points where there were blossoms in the printed image, I used the pencil to make a little “f” next to the point on the wall.  You can see just how very sophisticated this is, right?  Little “f” = flower.  Stay with me. 

Nailing It

Next came the best therapy $19.00 can buy.  Three boxes of 2” nails: $2.47.  Hammer: $7.00.  No shame in my budgetary game bottle of pinot: $10.00.  Mixing the three and spending three hours nailing approximately 150 nails into your wall: So freakin’ priceless.  Felt great.  Anyway, all I did here was put nails in the pencil points I’d drawn on the wall.

Credit: Moi

Wind It Up

I wound brown yarn around the nails, looping around each nail-head then stretching the yarn between adjacent nails.  The first time around the nails took a decent amount of thought and effort because it was a little tough to see the tree in the forest of nails.  Lucky for me I’m a natural at those Magic Eye images and the three glasses of pinot already had my one eye lazily lolling toward crossed anyway, so I was able to pull the tree out of that mess of nails in no time.  After I had the initial layer of yarn outlining the tree branches, I repeated that step six more times so that there are now a total of seven layers of yarn around the entire image.  That’s just to make the whole thing dark enough that it stands out against the big gray wall.

Credit: MoiCredit: Moi

Word to the wise: It didn’t take nearly as much yarn as I thought it might.  In a throwback to my Girl Scout need to “always be prepared,” I bought Michael’s clean out of brown yarn.  That was silly because after seven times around two trees, I still had this much left on the first bunch of yarn:

Credit: Moi

The Aisle-5-of-Michael’s Special: Hot Glue and Fake Flowers

I decided that no matter what, I could never (not ever) purchase pink fake flowers.  Normally colorblind, I don’t know why I had to be so discriminatory in my selection of bogus blooms, but I just felt like pink was just, well, pink.  Too frou-frou.  Also, I’d already sort of dabbled in a color theme for the room that included a cool blue color.  (And by dabbled I of course mean “received three candle holders for Christmas in that color.”) Blue hydrangea made perfect sense.  It appealed to my desire to stay with the blue and avoid anything pink, and it also provides approximately 1 jillion individual blooms per $2.00 stem.

Credit: Moi

All I did here was tear all the individual blooms off their rubbery plastic stems (almost, but not quite as sadistically satisfying as the nails), then hot-glue them to the heads of the nails that were next to a pencil “f” (for “flower,” remember?).

Credit: Moi

Other Utterly Impractical Touches

If I’m going to have a room completely devoted to doing yoga, I should probably attempt to use it for storage, too, right?  At least for other work-out stuff, right?  And in a zen way?  Regardless, I decided that since my beloved bikes have officially moved in from the cold to keep me company in the empty apartment this winter, they deserved to be on display (and also more appropriately stored in a way that doesn’t constantly threaten my carpets, walls, and doors with greasy smeared gear marks)  and where better to do that on the other big gray wall in the yoga room. 

Credit: Moi. Bike shelves are Monet from

Final touches include the cool blue candle holders, some 30,000 tea lights, and a rice-paper lantern for a decidedly less harsh lighting scheme.  Also, I got an iPod sound dock so I can love on my yoga podcasts without also having to double-dutch over the ear-bud cord while I’m in plank.

It’s nice to have a physical manifestation of some of the changes going on around here.  It’s also nice to have a space that’s 100% devoted to peace, quiet, reflection, and . . . me.  Come on over any time you want for a totally free, totally pre-pinot yoga session.  Class starts whenever you get here.

Credit: Moi

Welcome om.

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