How to Create a Studio Space that Reflects the Way you Teach
Just like you want your students to feel the authenticity and integrity of your teachings in classes, you want your yoga studio space to be unique and reflect both who you are as a teacher and what you value in the work of others. This is important to attract the right students, teachers, and build the community you’re dreaming of for your studio space.
However, you might not know where to start; whether you already have a space and think it needs a change as you’ve evolved in your life and teaching or you’re starting from scratch, then you’ll find a couple of guidelines in here. Especially if thinking about making these decisions overwhelms you, grab a piece of paper and a pen and begin here.
First, a judgment-free brainstorming session will get you started. Think about:
Why you decided to have your own studio
What are your plans for it? Do you want to have workshops, special events, fundraisers? What are some elements you’ve been missing in other studios that might have urged you to open your own? What message do you want to pass on or advocate for?
Some of the most important qualities to have as a teacher
You will want these qualities to be very clear to anyone who sets foot in your premises. Humility? You might want to have photos of (or with) your favorite teachers, perhaps placed on an altar. Curiosity? How about an exchange bookshelf, where people can drop and take books from? Friendliness, kindness, availability, whatever they are, make your list and think of the ways this can show on the outside, too.
What kind of community you want to build
A teacher once shared with me that you can determine whether a studio is good at building a sense of community or not observing people before class. Teachers and students talk? That’s a very good sign. Students talk among each other? That’s what you’re looking for.
This will be a place people will visit every week, maybe every other day even, and you want to make sure they connect among themselves just as much as they do with you. In what ways will you want to create that?
How you want people to feel when they get in
A typical first thing would be to ask people to take their shoes off - this way, they can leave their work days at the door and start to, already, connect back to their bodies and the ground. You could have water or hot herbal teas for people to have before or after class. Then, of course, the materials, colors, scents, and light you’ll choose will have an impact on this.
Make sure you spend time pondering these questions, without worrying too much about the “what will people think” side of them; the answers will serve as a basis to create the studio space you want or to adjust the one you already have. After all, you wouldn’t build a studio without walls, would you? Create your mental foundation so it fits your personality and values before moving on to the actual setting up of the space.
Then moving on to the more practical aspect of creation, consider the following:
- Colors: bright or soft, on the walls or furniture, and so on.
- Textures: couches or benches? Throw pillows, floor cushions? Blankets, bolsters, and mats, picture them together.
- Smells: do you want to use essential oils? Maybe incense? Or maybe nothing at all?
- Light: dimmed, colored... There’s a lot to choose from.
- Sounds: music can have a very big impact on how we feel so if you do choose to have music or sounds, spend some time thinking about your choices.
- Philosophical representations: is there an Indian God or Goddess that means a lot to you? Make sure it makes sense for you to have them there rather than just for the sake of having traditions in your studio.
Don’t be afraid to be creative, but don’t force yourself to be original. What matters is that the material part of your studio fits the mental idea you have of it, and the purpose you want it to serve.
Finally, it’s been increasingly common to have a shop, maybe even a café in yoga studios. It can be a nice touch and help you build that sense of community you’re looking for. However, do consider whether this is something you really want, or if it’s something you feel rather obliged to do. When it comes to managing a mindful business, it’s your house, and your rules: your students will appreciate your authenticity, transparency and the sense of clarity they’ll get from enjoying a space that aligns with what they’re after for their yoga practice.