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Soothing Spaces: Feng Shui for Studios

Whether you're teaching in a yoga studio or in your living room, feng shui and other design tips can help you create a yoga space that comforts and heals.

By Mary Mihaly

For Carol Bridges, the design and décor of a yoga studio should reflect the spirit of what will happen in that space. "My ideal would be to make the space glow as if from within," says the feng shui master, who is based in Nashville, Indiana. "Just as one would like to glow with spiritual light from within as a yoga student."

Bridges has an exalted goal, perhaps, but the ideal is not as elusive as some teachers might think. The basics of designing a yoga studio as an enriching, soothing space are achievable whether classes are held in a rented storefront, a posh office building, or the student's living room.

The Basics of Feng Shui
Feng shui—the practice of using the energy (chi) of a space to produce the best possible outcomes within it-tells us that wherever we are, our performance is affected by the energy there. Color, lighting, furnishings, placement, and freedom from dirt and clutter all partner in creating good feng shui.

Because color and lighting surround us in a room, they exert a strong and immediate effect upon us. Debra Perlson-Mishalove, director of Flow Yoga Center in Washington, D.C., chose a soft, squash-yellow color for the walls of her studio, "which seem to glow from the reflection of the sun," she says. The door is painted in a color she calls "flow green," and a lounge is "filled with a warm, earth-tone palette accented with vibrant colors." (View her studio at her website, www.flowyogacenter.com.)

"These choices were not made through the direction of design books," she adds, "but more through intuition of what would just 'feel good.' When I think about my approach to the design, the word 'harmony' comes to mind." Perlson-Mishalove also recommends as much sun exposure as possible, and soft, indirect lighting without harshness or glare.

Clear Away the Clutter!
With some 75 people traipsing into her studio every day, it was imperative that Perlson-Mishalove find a way to store both her supplies and students' gear in a tidy, organized way. Students' coats and shoes are placed in a separate area, outside the studio space. "Students arrive after a busy day, they work long hours, they care for their kids, they have stress, and I wanted to present a clean, calm look for people when they come here."

Her quest for order extends beyond the studio: Perlson-Mishalove tries to lead a "paperless life," she says, keeping as many records as possible on the computer.

Larry Hatlett, director of Yoga Center of Palo Alto in California, likewise maintains a "separate room with a closed door" for the studio's office and storage. The studio itself is kept immaculately clean: virtually all of his classes focus on standing poses with no mats, and the floor is mopped before every class and thoroughly cleaned once a week.

Bridges approves of such fastidiousness for both studio and office, which she says "needs to be organized, just as one's mind needs to be cleared for a good yogic practice."

A "Yogic Décor"
The Palo Alto center's décor was inspired by Hatlett's refined approach to yoga. "I like yoga to be beautiful in its simplicity—not spreading arms really wide, keeping movements as graceful as possible," he explains, "and my studio reflects that philosophy."

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Reader Comments

amanda

photos would be great of these studios!

lisa

love this!

meryl

love both studios you wrote about in the article. great example!

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