How to use aesthetics, space, teachers and more in setting the mood at your studio.
Growing up, did you ever wear a mood ring?
If you did, you’ll recall the ring would change colors based on your “mood” — glowing shades of blue, green and purple based on the emotions you felt internally.
Unfortunately, determining the mood in your studio isn’t as easy as placing a ring on your finger. However, setting the mood is essential to running a successful yoga business.
“The mood your space and staff sets is the first thing students pick up on when they walk through the door,” said Jason Herd, the founder and director of M.Power Yoga Studio in Baltimore, Maryland. “When designing your studio, it’s important to build an environment that reflects your class offerings and also makes students feel welcomed, calm, relaxed and at home.”
Mood can be determined by numerous things. Herd mentioned locker rooms, lighting and lounges are a few aspects they pay attention to in order to make students feel comfortable in their space.
At Y7 Studio, with locations in New York City and Los Angeles, lights, candles, a clean and simple design, and music playlists specific to each class, all work in harmony to set the mood, said Sarah Levey, the founder of the studio.
“We want everyone to know and feel that they are at Y7 from the moment they walk into the front door, not just the studio room,” said Levey.
In fact, keeping the overall mood similar between locations was a key factor for Levey. “The most important thing to me is consistency among locations and that if things are working, you do not need to change them just to change,” she said. “Find what really speaks to you and the experience you want others to enjoy.”
Kacee Must explained a lot of thought goes into the mood — or rather “culture” as she depicted it — at each of her three locations in Michigan. Every element in her studios is designed based on promoting social interaction, from where the cubbies are placed and how clean the studio is, to how it smells.
Mood can come down to the details. Must noted at one of her locations, a mistake was made and a wall ended up being three inches too high. “Those three inches mean the front desk person can’t see the students at all the different places in the studio,” said Must. “It might seem like nothing to most people and nobody else would notice it, but I notice it.”
Must’s goal is open interaction and making people feel connected to one another. From there, the culture is established. “People actually need to connect and be more comfortable talking to each other, so part of us setting the mood is us making sure students are interacting and talking to each other, and having meaningful conversations,” she said.
Having an open space with not much in the practice room sets the mood for Donna Ponder, the owner of Blue Sky Yoga, which has two locations in Louisiana. She explained while teaching at the local university, she learned to appreciate a less busy space where things are simple and in order.
But mood doesn’t stop at aesthetics — it is also determined by teachers. Ponder said each of her teachers are different, and she wants that to show from class to class. While some start class with a reading, others play music. Allowing instructors to embrace what makes them unique conveys an authentic tone to the students.
Overall, staff play a vital role in setting the mood for your students, said Herd. He explained students pick up on what vibe staff give off, so it’s key to make sure teachers are living their yoga outside of class. However, he agreed with Ponder in allowing the individuality of teachers to flow out naturally. “The mood of the class is so important because it’s a reflection of each individual teacher and the students who follow them,” he said. “Mood should be different for each teacher and class format.”
Must mentors her teachers to ensure their teaching is impactful, safe and connected. Teachers are instructed on how to say hello to each person, as well as the importance of learning student names. For Citizen Yoga, conversations go beyond how someone is doing. “Yoga culture is not just about sitting quietly by yourself before class,” said Must. “That’s not actually what creates confidence and community. It’s really a much deeper interaction.”
Ultimately, the mood of your studio and class is determined by your students. Ponder explained while she goes into her class with a plan, she knows she has to respond to her students’ needs. In the end, that’s really all you can do. “You almost have to feel what’s going on,” she said. “The class isn’t about me. It’s about them. Work with what is happening.”