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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

As at Flow Yoga Center, Palo Alto's palette is a soft yellow (see www.paloaltoyoga.com) with up-lighting to avoid glare. Like his yoga, the studio, Hatlett says, is "a very simple, uncluttered space promoting the possibility of peace of mind." The temperature is kept at a comfortable 70 degrees, and the hardwood floor is "sticky—designed specifically for bare feet."

Perlson-Mishalove's décor choices reflect not only her yoga, but her life choice as a committed environmentalist. "The name for our studio, Flow, represents our connection to the natural world. Balance, harmony and flow are lessons in yoga that are reinforced at almost every turn when you take time to observe the natural world—leading a yogic way of life completely meshes with leading an environmentally conscious way of life," she says.

For Perlson-Mishalove, the design of the studio also has a karmic tie-in. "In a way, being environmentally 'conscious' is really just being conscious, period—knowing that my actions have an effect on both me and the world around me, and striving to cause the least possible harm to both. For me, that's practicing ahimsa. Non-harming is essential to the yogi because it creates good karma—and good karma leads to joy and happiness."

Perlson-Mishalove incorporates her conservationist passion into the studio's design in every way possible. The floor is of bamboo, one of the most sustainable flooring materials available—her choice over cork because of its durability. Other floors at her business are made of allergen-free marmoleum or are carpeted with natural fibers. Furniture in the office and lobby are either secondhand or purchased from IKEA, which follows environmentally responsible practices.

Toilets are low-flush, and even the sign-up sheets are printed on recycled paper. She offers students organic cookies and teas served in glasses, not paper cups (and she asks students to wash their glasses when empty). Perlson-Mishalove doesn't even sell water in plastic bottles; students drink filtrated water from glasses, and a filter purifies the studio air.

Perlson-Mishalove acknowledges that designing an eco-friendly studio will likely cost more than other choices, but she considers it a small investment in the planet. "I view it the same way as my choice to eat organic food," she says. "It's a bit more expensive, but to me, it's worth it."

Designing Tips
In any studio, from no-frills to elegant, these pointers will enhance the energy of the space:

  • The entryway is the most important spot in feng shui; it is where good chi—and good fortunes and opportunities—enter the space. Make the entry attractive and remove all clutter, and be sure the door can open completely without scraping or bumping into anything.
  • "Pictures depicting exquisite yoga postures or spiritual masters would be useful, perhaps in the waiting room if not in the actual studio," Bridges says. "Consider the area that people walk past numerous times; this would be a prime area for 'programming' such actions or achievements by the use of these pictures."
  • A candle is fine to help students focus, but scents can distract or even trigger allergies. Use unscented candles or incense, and ask students if they mind before class begins.
  • Lastly, Bridges advises, aim for a good balance of yin and yang in your design, one that is compatible with your style of yoga: "Not so dim and peaceful as to put someone to sleep," she says, "and not so intense as to disrupt a peaceful meditation."

  • Mary Mihaly is a writer and certified feng shui practitioner based in Cleveland, Ohio. Her writing specialties include travel, health, collecting, and, of course, feng shui.



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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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