Yoga spaces: Vital building qualities

Karen Abernethy creates multi-sensory yoga studio in converted Sydney warehouse. Digital Image. Dezeen. Accessed March 16, 2021.


A word derived from the Sanskrit root word “yuj,” meaning “joining” or “union.”1

In essence, introducing yoga and its fundamental principles into your life not only emphasises on the connections and strengthening of the relationship with ourselves but also with the people and world around us.

Although for many years, the only ones who fully understood and performed yogic practice were the bhikkhu of the Buddhist temples in India (or more commonly known as “monks”), yoga and mindfulness practice now serves a commonly vital building block in the growth of today’s society.

Today, a yoga studio can be described as the place where mind, body and spirit unite in the confines of a calm and trusting space surrounded by the simplicities of the physical and spiritual world. You, your yoga mat, your trusted teacher and the abundantly pure and holy space around you.

We saw over the rise of the 21st century, yoga’s direct correlations with Hindu culture transform into a modern day commodity and is now practiced all over the world by a whole range of people. Although its ritualistic and taboo connotations are no longer associated with yoga in the western world, some principles of place, presence, community and principle still apply.

Monk at Enko-ji Temple
Time to face yourself in the morning and evening of summer. Zen experience at a temple in Kyoto. Digital Image. Kyoto Chishin. Accessed March 16, 2021.
Monk at Mount Koya
Monk sues temple at Mount Koya World Heritage site over heavy workload. Digital Image. The Japan Times. Accessed March 16, 2021.

The roots of yoga date back for thousands of years to a time when temples were designed and built specifically for enabling its occupants to practice, study and meditate without distraction.2 They were designed to meet their pragmatic needs including providing spaces to live and work, but also to meet their spiritual and cognitive needs which commonly involved communal cultural activities and religious rituals. Temples offered more than just a physical space but a spiritual atmosphere and a harmonised environment that allowed one to become serene and tranquil.2 They were valuable places for distressed persons to soothe their minds, lay down their burdens and achieve a sense of calm.2

Although we saw religion at the core of the inception of monastery architecture, today we are able to take from this ancient practice, the qualities of setting up a calming space in order to facilitate our own.

Walking into a yoga studio for the first time can be somewhat of a grounding experience for a number of reasons. The immediate connection of your bare feet on the cold but comforting hard wood floors. The dimmed, mood setting on all the lights with the subtlety of the natural light seeping in through the windows. The soothing and organic flow of the curtains from an ever so slight gust of wind entering the room. The roughness in texture of the preserved, bare walls. The echoed sound of traffic and the smell of the ancient forests of Indonesia.

Warrior One yoga studio uses textured surfaces to reference the nearby sea. Digital Image. Dezeen. Accessed March 16, 2021.

These are all environmental subtleties that are anything but coincidental. The underlying importance of the multi-sensory qualities of these spaces is a long-lived truth that cannot be understated. They are ultimately vital programs injected into the design of each yoga studio to facilitate and optimise the occupants tangible and ephemeral yogic experience.


1. Denise Blankenberger, “Yoga and Architecture: A philosophical Design Approach” (PhD diss., Ball State University, 2016), 6.

2. “Buddhism & Architecture,” Nan Tien Temple, accessed March 16, 2021,