The lighting in your studio can make or break your studio’s atmosphere. With this in mind, we spoke with Bryan Dunkelberger, a principal for architecture firm S3 Designs, on what studios should keep in mind when it comes to the lighting within their four walls.

MSM: What do you recommend for lighting within a yoga studio?

 BD: Yoga lighting definitely wants to be either wall sconces or indirect lighting.  People are on their backs and looking up at different times throughout the class, and therefore you don’t really want them looking into the fixture directly. If you have to have fixtures over their heads, at least try to get a filtered lens on the fixture so they aren’t looking straight at the bulb.

In addition, all the lighting in the room should be dimmable. That allows the instructor to control the brightness and ambiance depending on the type of class. If possible, you want to place the lighting controls near the instructor to minimize them having to move a lot in the event they want to change the lighting during the class.

There are lots of lighting control systems, and they can do everything from dim lights automatically, to changing lighting with the push of a button, to preset lighting settings. There are pros to being able to create different moods and ambiances, but remember: More technology means more things that can break, or require programming. Even though technology solutions are pretty cool, most instructors like the control that a simple dimmer switch gives them, and it’s relatively foolproof.

MSM: What should studios keep in mind when it comes to lighting quality or type of lighting?

 BD: Lighting quality should be 3,000 kilowatts or less. This is a warmer quality of light. The higher the kelvin (K) the more blue/cold the light gets, and the more dead people look.

Natural light is a preference. Some instructors love it, while others would prefer it to be darker. If they have the opportunity to incorporate windows into the studio, they may want to consider draperies that can be pulled to block out the light if need be.

In addition, mirrors aren’t always desirable in yoga studios, but if they are, then the design team needs to take extra care to make sure the bulbs of cove lights are not visible in the mirror’s reflection.

If the instructors prefer to hold class in rooms on the darker side, the design team may want to consider subtle ways to light the instructor enough to be visible to those in the back of the class. This can be done with wall sconces or an indirect light source.

MSM: What else should studios keep in mind when it comes to lighting?

 BD: Another trick is to use wall washers around the perimeter of the room. Their intent is to push light onto the wall, and not directly at the floor where someone may place their mat.

For equipment storage rooms, if it is a separate room, then consider putting a low light source in the room that is constantly on during the class. This is for when a student comes in late and needs to grab a mat or block. You want them to be able to see the equipment without having to turn a light on or fumble around.