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Yoga and Architecture

What are some strategies that come to mind when you think of ways to reduce #stress and #anxiety in your everyday life?

Here’s my list:

  • Chamomile tea

  • Meditation

  • Yoga

  • A long bath

  • Architecture

You may be asking “how on earth can architecture calm anxiety?”. Believe it or not, studies have shown that there is a direct link between your physical surroundings and your emotional state. This is not a new concept and #hospitals have been utilizing this practice for years in order to encourage #healing and #wellness through #design.

The term “healing architecture” indicates that the built environment has the ability to impact patients’ health and psychological well-being. The goal of all healing environments is to engage patients in the process of self-healing and recovery. As a result, these spaces are designed to be nurturing and therapeutic and to reduce patient and family stress. Features such as bright rooms, access to natural daylight, big windows, local plant life and outdoor views can improve the healing process by giving patients a psychological and physical lift.

A fun way to understand and study how architecture can lead to a serene mental state is to look at how designers have crafted spaces meant for the act of relaxation and serenity: Yoga Studios.

AYC by DX Arquitectos, Chile

"The exposed structure relates to the structure of the human body, and an understanding of yoga as the practice of 'body art'."

Chilean studio DX Arquitectos has added a timber-framed roof extension to the home of a yoga teacher in Santiago, providing a studio where she can teach classes (+ slideshow).

"It needed to satisfy all the conditions for the comfortable practice of yoga – good ventilation, good acoustic and thermal insulation, and a spiritual atmosphere."

The architects built the studio entirely with #timber, using #pine for the exterior and interior surfaces.

Outside, the pine is finished with carbonileo – a protective finish commonly used in #Chile that gives the extension its blackened appearance. Inside, the pine is left raw for the #flooring and whitened for the walls to accentuate its grain.

"The idea was to create a contrast of light and dark between the interior and exterior," said Rodríguez.

"We also chose #wood because it is suitable for absorbing the moisture generated during the practice of yoga, and it contributes to the calm atmosphere of the studio," he added.

"The idea was to create a line of light that separates the studio from the house, so it almost appears to be suspended," said Rodríguez.

"By limiting views outside, we also wanted to create a more spiritual space that looks inward and is separated from its environment, similar to a #temple."


Lai Yard by Ming Gu Design, China

A glazed extension was added to a Chinese dwelling in Nanjing by Ming Gu Design. The #studio created the volume as a place for cultivating #mindfulness with an area nearby for preparing and drinking tea.

The Nanjing-based architecture studio added the gabled meditation room, which features glass walls, to the center of the heritage-listed house.

The #meditative space protrudes outwards and overhangs the base of the existing structure of the house, appearing as if it is suspended over a graveled area of the courtyard.

The glazed room allows a direct view from the inside of the house to the old walls that surround the courtyard, juxtaposing the contemporary interior design with the traditional exterior walls of the house.

"The layout of this house is full of surprising details – contrary elements, such as the old alongside the new; the interior and exterior; the light and the dark; the conventional and the contemporary, are found to meet here and merge into a harmonious existence," said the studio.

Ming Gu Design described its intentions as "superimposing" modern architecture onto the courtyard. The glazed room allows for light to move across the house throughout the day, casting linear patterns across the central space, in contrast to the darker spaces of the older building.


The Space Between by Jordan Ralph, Dublin

A relaxing #yoga pose informed the serene aesthetic of this exercise studio in Dublin, Ireland, created by local studio Jordan Ralph Design.

Located beside the waters of Dublin's Silicon Docks, The Space Between includes two yoga studios, a tea shop, and hosts a roster of events throughout the week.

When it came to developing its interiors, multidisciplinary studio Jordan Ralph Design aimed to create a "secular yet spiritually engaging" space that would draw in both yoga aficionados and those visiting for the talks, workshops or film screenings.

The studio was loosely inspired by shavasana – a pose typically done at the end of yoga session to relax participants, who must lie flat on their backs with arms and legs spread to the side.

"I wanted the space to resonate with #shavasana, and give a person a sense of #calmness and grounding through the visual and physical elements in the space," said the studio's eponymous founder.

"In the digital age, beautiful, honest, well-designed spaces are more important than ever."

One of the studios, named Now, has been finished with anthracite-coated surfaces and black wooden floors to foster a cozy, cocoon-like ambience.

The other studio, named Here, has been completed with calming white walls, inbuilt with gridded shelves that display potted plants and store yoga equipment.

Pale oak floorboards run throughout, while huge skylights have been punctuated in the gabled ceiling to keep the space filled with natural light.


Lyons Garden by Colectivo Lateral de Arquitectura, Mexico

"Beyond satisfying an architectural function, the program of this residence responds to a superior need: the holistic quest of full communion and interaction with the enveloping and traversing nature," said Colectivo Lateral de Arquitectura.

Mexico City studio Colectivo Lateral de Arquitectura built a beach house on the Pacific Ocean for clients who envisioned a meditative getaway. One room overlooks the #waterfront with sliding glass walls and has a large, round lightwell above.

A pool runs from inside this space to outdoors, framing the room and its sweeping views of the ocean.

"A swimming lane integrates into the pool and operates as an alternative access to this area while it dilutes the limits between interior and exterior spaces: there are no borders, the inside is the outside."

Another key feature of the property is its pale pastel hue tone, which the studio created by adding Tepetate, a type of clay commonly found in the area, to the concrete mix.

"Naturally Tepetate has a reddish color, so when you add grey concrete you get this characteristic tone that makes the volumes an imperceptible element within its natural environment," the architects said.


Hatley House by Pelletier de Fontenay and François Abbott, Canada

This gabled house in the Canadian town of Hatley, Quebec features a minimally furnished room clad in plywood. Built above the master bedroom, the nook was designed to offer the owners a space for meditation.

Throughout the residence, the firm has teamed the simple finishes of polished concrete, white walls and plywood surfaces, with antique furniture. Photographs of the interiors show time-worn elements such as mismatched chairs in the dining room, an aged leather couch and a cast-iron fireplace.


Contact us today so we can help you design the meditative space of your dreams!

Want to delve into this topic more? Read this fascinating thesis topic by student Denise Blankenberger from Ball State University on her explorations of using Yoga as a philosophical design approach to architecture.

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