I first started practicing yoga in a cold, noisy sports studio in northeast Scotland with a Zumba class pumping away next door and a tread mill humming in the room above.
The unbalancing effect slightly skewed my first yoga experience and nearly sent me wandering away from the practice; but instead of dropping my mat and marching off, I decided to go on the hunt—the hunt for the perfect yoga studio, that is.
What this studio would look like, I wasn’t sure. But I knew it was out there somewhere, sitting calmly and waiting for me and my best upward facing dog to come along. After 5 years of searching, I have yet to find perfection, but I’ve got a good idea of what makes a great studio.
Below I set out my five top tips. A few on the face of it are pretty bleedin’ obvious, (though they still seem to be missed off by many a yoga school) and a few others are my own personal preferences. If you have any other idyllic ideas please give a comment below to share them with the community.
#1: I don’t want to see my own breath.
To start is an obvious one that I learnt all those years back in that cold sports hall in Aberdeen. Get rid of the cold; if the hall is the same temperature as the corridor outside get a heater, but remember the poor yogi who is sitting next to it, she/he will be uncomfortably hot pretty quickly.
Another quick warming tip is to skip out on those loft style wooden floorboards. Yes, they look great, but really they’re just going to create a draft that will seep up through your mats and give a cold to your minimally clad stretchers.
#2. Let there be light.
We all love a bit of personal solitude, but please do away with yoga without windows. Yoga is, to a certain extent, about getting away from the world, escaping the rat race—but it should also involve bringing in all the good things from the world that surrounds us, with natural, warming light being one of the most fruitful of these outside influences.
#3: Keep it clean.
If you don’t get this, there’s little help to be had…
#4: Location, location, location.
When we leave a yoga class we are sometimes in a fragile state, and it will take a moment or two for us to warm back up to the hectic pace of the city. Therefore, it is important that when we leave a class it is into a somewhat protected environment. I’m not necessarily talking an urban oasis with birds humming a fruitful tune accompanied by the gentle rustling of the wind on the leaves—just don’t lead me straight out onto a busy street where the relaxation and calm I have worked so hard to achieve will be immediately bumped out of me by a suit on a mission.
#5: Keep it simple.
An urban yoga retreat should be just that—a retreat. I don’t want elaborate wall paper, or badly painted murals—I get enough poorly designed clutter in my day-to-day life. A yoga studio should be a retreat from everyday mayhem, so keep it simple with a plain wall and calming colours.
I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts. And here’s to a world of yoga studios without overhead trains, screaming kids, distracting murals and other annoyances that frustrate this grumpy Brit.
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Assistant Ed: Dejah Beauchamp