Lisa Melone Cloughen’s tips on designing your own yoga sanctuary by Melone Cloughen Interiors

Comments Melone Cloughen Interiors 17-09-2018

The meditative or Zen design trend is here to stay and its aesthetic has clearly extended into home, office, hotel, and restaurant design. Architecture and the corresponding interiors of a space are extraordinarily important for psychological well-being. Any good architecture, ancient or current, has the ability to inspire humans at almost any level. When you are in an architecturally pleasing space, it allows your entire being to expand intellectually, spiritually, physically and emotionally. Similarly, a yoga practice is built incrementally on a physical or structural level that helps guide your mind, body and spirit to a heightened awareness about yourself, others, and the universe.


Yoga and meditation are very much about connecting the individual to the expanse of the universe and a thoughtfully designed studio can enhance the experience. First, and foremost, the studio should be devoid of “visual clutter”. That does not mean the space should be austere, but it would be difficult to find your Zen if you are staring at a pile of laundry!

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Consider a serene color palette for your studio and of course, choose colors that are pleasing and relaxing to you. Most of us think about neutral color palettes for quiet spaces, but a rich, dark color can be equally soothing and oh so welcoming to the senses.


A focal point is intrinsic to the practice of yoga and meditation precisely because it has a calming effect for the mind and body. If your studio has a window, that can be a lovely focal point and your practice will benefit from the natural views and the ever-changing light. Alternatively, a focal point can be created on a blank wall. Consider centering a yogic image such as a mandala and perhaps flank it with candle sconces, additional artwork or mirrors.


Lighting the space is an essential component whether the preference is for soft or bright light. Light sources should be dimmable and well-spaced and candles or lanterns add to the glow of the space. If you are incorporating sconces, consider the shadow or patterns they cast as an additional design element.


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Natural elements have an inherently restorative quality and enhance feelings of harmony and balance. Any natural element that resonates with you is the ideal choice. Consider crystals, shells, river rocks branches or driftwood and definitely add a little greenery. Succulents and orchids are a good low maintenance and beautiful choice. Also consider creating an altar with some of your natural elements, possibly incorporating a Buddha figurine and a votive or two. 


There are very few “mistakes” one can make when creating a yoga and meditation studio. For me, it comes down to two elements that have the potential to upend the space-color and lighting. Overly vivid, bright or highly contrasting paint or wallpaper detracts from the vibe and over-stimulates the mind and body. Similarly, very harsh or cold lighting creates a antiseptic feel that does not encourage relaxation and calm. The point of the practice is to connect all of your being to itself in order to expand and that is less likely to happen if the space has a harsh feel to it.


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Yoga and meditation are often associated with minimal and/or ethnic settings because of the nature of the practice and it’s ancient Indian origins. That said, it is perfectly acceptable to design a studio in pretty much any style that resonates with you. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to tour an old, very grand estate and there was a small room tucked away on the second or third floor that would have made an exquisite studio. The proportions, the classical detailing, French doors leading to a balcony, a fireplace on the opposite wall, all spoke to a gracious past. Rather than strip the space down to a minimal ideal, I would have played up the existing elements. Maybe cover the walls in a beautiful tone on tone dark damask wallpaper, a faded antique Oushak or Khotan rug, meditation cushions and a contemporary chaise longue in a Fortuny fabric, luscious silk sheers framing the French doors, a romantic light fixture and of course, candlelight, lots of candlelight. That would make for an extraordinary example of a sumptuous yoga and meditation studio!


Your yoga practice is confined to the dimensions the yoga mat.  Once you have oriented your mat, consider your focal point. You can easily set up an altar on a bench at the foot of the bed. Again it can be as simple centering a Buddha, a crystal cave or an obelisk on the bench flanked with a votive or two. In other words, create a visual vignette that you find settling and peaceful.



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