By Jenny Park
Each of us has a best Yoga school in mind, but here is mine. What one person loves, another does not. Some people love hot, smelly, and puddles of sweat, while some of us do not. To me, the atmosphere in a yoga school contributes a lot toward the overall effectiveness of the class. If the studio environment is too cold, hot, cluttered, smelly or generally unkempt, it will take away from the students’ experience with yoga training. I could try to focus on my intention, but the smell of the class might change my intention to be: “let’s get this over with” or “let’s leave now.” The school should address a number of concerns to keep the students comfortable and allow the yoga teacher to do his or her best teaching. Paul Jerard always taught the staff to walk in with a fresh set of senses and experience the school from a new student’s perspective.
When a studio is too big, the yoga instructor’s voice can get lost in space or carried away into the rafters, the music has to be turned up too loud just so people in the back can hear and the instructor must then wear a headset or raise his or her voice so everyone can hear the cues. When a studio is too small, students are scrunched together worrying about flinging an arm or leg into the neighboring student’s space. The best yoga school will take the number of students needing to be served into account with a space that is neither too big nor too small. A class of five on a large drafty basketball court has a lot of space, but during cold seasons, you may have to dress in layers.
The temperature in the best yoga school is warm enough to keep people from shivering, but cool enough to accommodate for moving bodies creating heat. It might feel a little cool at first for students just arriving, but they will soon warm up as their bodies begin to move. It’s important for the studio to be warm enough during meditation sessions, which often take place in corpse pose, so students can let go of their thoughts and bodily concerns for a while. Studios that are a bit cooler should be well-stocked with blankets. That said, hot yoga classes have their place, but most students in Hatha style classes don’t want to practice in an oven. So, moderate temperatures will do.
The atmosphere of the school is the key ingredient. It should be cozy and comfortable; a welcoming atmosphere for all students. The decor should be simple and gender-neutral to make all students feel at ease. The best Yoga school should include an area for students to place their coats, shoes and personal belongings and an open space for the yoga training sessions to take place. The lighting is also important. Dimmer lights are a nice option, so the lights can be dimmed as the class comes to an end and meditation takes place. Studios with lots of windows let natural light in, but need to be accommodated with blinds for mid-day or summer evening yoga classes.
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