Architecture and yoga: tools for mindfulness

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Architecture and yoga: tools for mindfulness

Living in an urban environment is demanding. Busy, competitive lifestyles leave people numb from the effects of stress. People in urban areas are more prone to mental health issues and demonstrate a noticeable lack of personal connection. Pink city lights and skyscrapers are thorny on the rise stress levelsposing an essential question to architects – how do spaces affect well-being?

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Solutions to stress have arisen urgently over the years. Yoga, which means “union”, has gained prominence as a therapeutic practice that marries the body, mind and soul. Philosophers argue that inner peace can be achieved anywhere, after all, it lies within. Architects and researchers, however, point to the profound impact of our physical environment on our mental state. Admittedly, deploying a yoga mat in a dim scenario seems more fruitful than in the middle of rush hour.

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The Space Between / Jordan Ralph Design. Photo © Agata Stoinska

Like yoga, architecture has the power to promote well-being, mindfulness and connection between the body and its environment. Mindfulness as a design practice seeks to discover ways to nudge users into a state of presence. On International Yoga Day, ArchDaily reflects on tactfully designed spatial typologies to promote physical and mental ease – yoga studios.


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Yoga centers are designed to provide relaxation to users through their practices and material space. More than a form of exercise, yoga is seen as a process of uniting with the body and enhancing mindfulness. Combined with simplicity, the yoga studios illustrate places of peace using a series of factors tested:

Light

Light is an influential element in architecture, inviting life and presence into buildings. Historically, sacred structures used light to ‘illuminate’ the soul with physical space. Architects can manipulate light and shadow patterns to leave users with an atmospheric, even spiritual experience. Exposure to natural light is known to benefit a user’s energy, mood and well-being, while making a space motivating.

Madeiguincho designed Yoga studio in the garden to capture the changing levels of natural light over time and the seasons. The simple structure was designed to mimic a temple, with quiet spaces and dim moving light. Materials have been chosen to filter and regulate the intensity of daylight while maintaining a connection to the sun, essential in many yoga flows.

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Garden Yoga Studio / Madeiguincho. Image © Gonçalo Marrote
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Garden Yoga Studio / Madeiguincho. Image © Gonçalo Marrote

Color

Color psychology has long been used in design to compose perceptions of space. In addition to providing acoustic, thermal and light comfort, colors can strongly dictate Emotional responses and sensory experiences. When designing for mindfulness, architects lean towards colors of nature to create a calming environment. Shades of white, cream, tan, blue and green have been shown to calm the mind and body and promote a sense of decompression.

The space between by Jordan Ralph Studio boasts of serene white interiors that instantly ground users and send them inward. Inspired by Savasana, the final pose of a flow, visual cues encourage users to drift into a meditative state. Whitewashed Irish ash wood has been used for the joinery and the walls have been painted matt white to create an old world feel. “I wanted there to be a sense of depth and soul within the walls of the space,” shares Jordan Ralph, Founder and Creative Director of Jordan Ralph Studio. The gray concrete floor and faded color mirror stand out against the chalky background, symbolizing the metaphysical “in-between moments” of yoga.

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The Space Between / Jordan Ralph Design. Photo © Agata Stoinska

Materials

The materials carry the identity of a space with their tactile and visual characteristics. The sense of touch can make you feel more connected to its environment. Materials can engage the senses by experiencing their inherent attributes, commanding attention. earth materials can induce an illusion of being in the lap of nature with mentally soothing sensations.

Aiming to create a tranquil aura, Nan architects made Flow Yoga and movement studio to imitate nature and the peace it transmits. A series of materials and construction techniques were used to add warmth and simplicity to the space. Materials were used in their raw state: wood, concrete with imperfections and brick combined with exposed industrial-style fixtures. The material palette reflects the rawness of yoga and the personal connection it fosters.

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Studio Flow Yoga and Movement / Nan Arquitectos. Image © Ivan Casal Nieto
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Studio Flow Yoga and Movement / Nan Arquitectos. Image © Ivan Casal Nieto

Isolation and confidentiality

When incorporated into spatial design, privacy and seclusion can provide respite from the stressors of daily routines. The idea of ​​being away from the triggering conditions can support efforts towards mindfulness. Meditative practices like yoga require a level of intimacy influenced by the space to feel an increased sense of connection with oneself and one’s environment. Psychological ownership is also a critical factor in feeling welcomed and comforted in a space.

Yoga Deva by Blank Studio offers an escape from the paved roads and commercial buildings that surround the center. An internal sequence of spaces distances the user from external conditions, orienting them towards a practice of meditation. Light, color and texture are used to create an ethereal atmosphere that contrasts with everyday city scenes.

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Yoga Deva / Empty studio. Image © Bill Timmerman
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Yoga Deva / Empty studio. Image © Bill Timmerman

Community

The community brings the spaces to life. Perceptions of space are also governed by its users and the interactions between them. The people and the place come together to create a framework of mindful presence. When tackling mental health, a like-minded community can offer support, empowerment and motivation. The united energy carried by individuals in a room charges a positive mood.

BOS|AU rotated their design to Health Life Yoga around the idea of ​​community – connection to oneself thanks to a targeted practice; connection to others through mentoring. The studio program is divided between public and private areas, encouraging interaction while creating a cozy place for yoga. As a central element, steps are placed near the entrance where users can hang out outside the courtyards. Lockers are locked under the steps, forming another interaction space.

Conscious architecture pieces can create optimal conditions for self-reflection and awareness, fostering a deeper relationship with the built environment. Mindfulness can integrate into designs of all scales and programs to strategically impact the human experience. Rather than embodying passive infrastructure, architecture can be used as a tool in the battle for mental well-being. Like yoga, architecture can be a unifying force between person and place.

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Health Life Yoga / BOS|UA. Image © Bruce Damonte Architectural Photographer
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Health Life Yoga / BOS|UA. Image © Bruce Damonte Architectural Photographer

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