Strategically planning the area for your studio
You are now a member of The Home Yoga Studio Program, and this means that you have already given a bit of thought about where to establish your Home Yoga Studio inside your house.
Planning a Home Yoga Studio needs a lot of attention to detail, as many aspects must be taken into account to generate a joyful Yoga experience for you as a teacher and most of all for your students. I describe the decoration in detail in this chapter ‘Studio design, decoration & equipment on a budget’
A Home Yoga Studio requires five basic but very important elements, just like any other type of Yoga practice:
- Enough space to move around
- A cozy, comfortable & peaceful environment
- A good vibe about it
- All the required equipment
- Basic ammenities (bathroom, store space, etc)
Choosing the Space
The first thing you need to do, of course, is make an assessment in which room of your house or apartment your Home Yoga Studio will be located. Depending on the layout of your building, you would choose the room with the largest area, however there are some spaces more manageable than others.
For example, the living room is the most common largest area of a house, but it may not be easily accessed from the entrance (with students walking across bedrooms or the kitchen to reach the studio). On the other hand, the garage may seem a more private space with easy access from the street, but then you should be able to adjust the temperature inside that big garage space – warm during cold winters and/or cool during hot summers. Plus you will have to invest in proper lighting and flooring.
The location for your Home Yoga Studio may change overtime. In my case, I rented my house specifically thinking the best space for the Yoga Studio was the attic, but after a few classes I realized that tall students kept smashing their hands against the cathedral ceilings and the steps to access the attic were too steep.
So after a few weeks, I decided to move my Home Yoga Studio to the living room that has high ceilings, easy access from the entrance, and most of all, a really good vibe!
But of course, having a Home Yoga Studio right in your living room can alter your family’s daily life. Children and pets must be quiet during classes, and family members must find alternative ways to walk in or out of the house without disturbing your class. This all may seem like a big complication, but it’s not – all you need is a bit of planning and organisation. So, let’s make a detailed assessment to define what works and what doesn’t, so you finally choose the best space for your Home Yoga Studio.
Each Yoga student can practice comfortably in a minimum area of 2 square meters/ 21.5 square feet.
Your Home Yoga Studio must have at least 25 square meters/ 270 square feet. That means that your studio can host comfortably at least 12 persons including the teacher. These measurements are calculated so you can own a Home Yoga Studio that generates a reasonable monthly income. I explain more about this in this chapter ‘Money Handling and Bookkeeping’
However, don’t forget you can always just offer private classes if your space is too small! I explain more abut this in this chapter ‘Private Classes’
This is a tricky one because you may have a very big room available, however I recommend that before choosing that space for your Home Yoga Studio you consult your local government authority.
One big reason: council permits!
This may not apply to your local area, but just be sure to check on your local council about any necessary permits to operate a business inside your household. In Melbourne, Australia where my own Home Yoga Studio is located, the maximum area inside your house that you can use without a permit is 50 square meters/ 538 square feet. The area of my own studio (shown on many photos on this program) is 35 square meters/ 377 square feet, so I don’t require a permit.
Rooms inside a house can be of different shapes and layouts – square, rectangle, circular, L shaped, odd shaped, etc. and they all can work perfectly for your studio. The one thing you must be sure of when you choose a room is that every single student can see and hear you clearly, without having a wall, column, fireplace or door blocking the view.
Even adjoining rooms can work if the threshold frame between them is big enough for everybody to see the teacher. If there are a number of rows of students, the best position for the teacher to be seen is on the wide side of the room, rather than the short one.
Location within your Home
The location of your Home Yoga Studio is vital to provide the most possible comfortable space for your students, for yourself and your family. You can be creative here; perhaps you will find a space you’d never thought of before that can be great alternative. Thinking outside the box is sometimes a better solution to provide your students with a great Yoga experience. Don’t limit yourself and try different spaces within your home.
Things to look for:
- The room needs to be as far away as possible to home odors, such as strong-smelling food from the kitchen, garbage containers, pet litters, etc.
- Windows provide a sense of open space, ventilation and a view to the outside. If sunlight coming through the windows is becoming too warm or uncomfortable to the eyes, you can install blinds or curtains (you can find very cheap ones). Always make sure your windows are clean – dirty windows make will make your studio look bad. If people can see through your big windows from the street, your students might feel uncomfortable, so blinds or drapes can come in handy.
- Easy access from the entrance/exit of your home – if your students have to walk through bedrooms, make sure their doors are closed before and after each class, and the hall is clean, tidy and, if possible, stylishly decorated. Remember that your students’ yoga experience starts at the moment that they enter your home and not from the start of the class.
- A minimum ceiling height of 2.4 meters/ eight feet is ideal so that tall persons of 1.8 meters/ six feet can comfortably stretch their arms up without reaching the ceiling.
- As I explain in this chapter ‘Studio space alternatives’ if you choose the garage, garden shed, cabana or independent bungalow in your backyard, make sure the temperature can be regulated if needed, and there’s easy access, preferably directly from the street without the need to enter the house. All other elements apply the same in this instance. Same with attics, cellars, home gardens or terraces, they can be great options providing there’s an overall comfort and easy access to them.
- Hardwood floors look best for a yoga studio although they can be a bit hard when kneeling and lying down. Other alternatives are laminate tiles that looks similar to wood, bamboo, cork, and soft rubber tiles that look like wood (shown in the photo). These look and feel sensational and are not too expensive.
- Carpets are good too, just be sure to keep them clean and that each student places a yoga mat on top of your carpet. If your carpet has frequent direct contact with sweaty feet, it will stink.
- For any other hard surfaces like concrete or tiles, it’s better that you and your students use at least two mats on top, or maybe a flat woven rug beneath their mats. Also, these types of floors can be very cold during winter. Try to avoid marble, concrete, vinyl or linoleum by installing a softer flooring that’s not too expensive.
- It’s a great client care service to provide mats for your students, especially the new ones who don’t necessarily bring their own yoga mats to a class. You can purchase them in bulk on many online stores. They’re quite inexpensive and they’re worth it. A good number of spare mats to have is about half of your students’ capability.
- For any other surfaces such as natural grass, artificial lawn, or even dirt, just make sure your students’ mats don’t slide over the surface.
As you might have learned during your yoga teacher training course, it’s very important to provide your students with a peaceful environment. Your Home Yoga Studio should be a sort of sanctuary for stress relief and inner healing. Even for physically challenging classes, your students should concentrate without distracting noises.
Nevertheless, it’s almost impossible to provide a completely soundproof Home Yoga Studio, especially since almost every home or apartment is close to the street with cars driving past.
This should not be a major problem, my own Home Yoga Studio is right in front of a very busy street, and my students can go into deep relaxation (Shavasana) with cars and buses driving past. How? Because city people are already used to those noises. I describe this in this chapter ‘Building & keeping your student clientele – individual service’. You can still provide a bit of insulation to soundproof your studio, but don’t stress too much about it. The yogic way, we accept what is, without any resistance, even noise.
Having an CD/mp3 player to provide soft & peaceful music is good enough to provide your students with a great audial environment, just be careful not to play the music too loud so that your students can’t easily hear your voice. Also acknowledge that some repetitive songs like Tibetan Monks ‘Ohm’ chants or Tibetan ‘Tinksha’ bells can enlighten some people but to others they can become annoying after long periods of time. Try an assorted music selection during your classes and then you can casually ask for feedback to check if your students are enjoying it.
Even though you won’t have to deal with all of the below, these are the major issues regarding noise control you must attend in your Home Yoga Studio before and during you classes:
|Noise||How to Avoid|
|Pet sounds – especially dogs barking, crying and scratching||
– Ask a friend or family member to take care of it during your class.
– Train your pet to get used to be alone for at least one hour.
– Let you pet wait for you as far away from your Home Yoga Studio as possible, with enough water and ventilation, and preferably with a toy or big chew stick.
Children crying, playing or fighting
– You can develop your timetable at hours in which your children are at school, taking a nap or asleep at night. I describe this in this chapter ‘Establishing a Good Timetable’
– Baby pool: If you have a baby, you can ask friends or relatives who are also mothers to take care of it and in return you take care of their kids some other time.
– If your children are old enough to be alone by themselves, organize one-hour games to play by themselves, ‘lucky dip’ bags with quiet crafts or toys. Organize a game in which your children whisper and don’t interrupt the class.
– Prepare them before your class and praise their good behavior after every class.
– If your children are old enough, invite them to join the class as special guests. Don’t force them to join but invite them to realize how important your Home Yoga Studio is for you.
Chat with them politely about not making too much noise during your classes and handle them your timetable.
Remember that your students are used to everyday noises, however a sudden loud noise or music from your neighbors might startle them.
|Noises coming from the ceiling (upper level) or beneath the floors.||
These might also be generated by children, neighbors, pets, construction activities or other businesses. Before choosing the location of your Home Yoga Studio, it’s best to make a detailed assessment of your to know exactly where annoying noises might come from. Nearby factories and night clubs can be a problem.
Close to my own studio, there’s another Yoga Studio in a commercial property that has had serious noise issues because they never noticed that beneath their floor was a sports gambling venue with loud TVs on all the time.
|People knocking on your door & walking into your class.||
Unless it’s an emergency, your Yoga class must not be interrupted at any time. You can stick a ‘please be quiet – Yoga class in progress’ sign on your door, and don’t forget to add the time when your class finishes.
If there’s access to your studio from right inside your home, you can also stick a sign so your family members don’t forget you’re giving a class and sneak into your class by accident.
|Cell phones||Cell & mobile phones ringing can be annoying during a class, and within your home outside your studio room. Make sure all of them are turned off or at least on silent during your entire class. You can ask your students politely not to answer a vibrating phone unless they know it’s something really important.|
I explain more about noise control in this chapter ‘Dealing with family, roommates, pets, neighbours & landlords’
Ventilation is a very important element in your studio to provide your students with a great Yoga experience. An enclosed space with several people doing exercise during a few hours per day might generate a strong, if not necessarily bad, body odor. Your students must be able to breath the freshest air possible before and during every class.
If your Home Yoga Studio has windows that can be opened, you won’t have many problems, otherwise here are a few ideas:
- Open all doors of your studio during all times when there’s no classes, swing them open and shut a few times to make the air circulate.
- Spray the room with air freshener after every class (when no students are present). I personallymake my own with eucalyptus oil and water, it is also antibacterial.
- An electric fan helps the air to circulate out of the room.
- Incense or scented candles can also help, just be careful not to fill the room with too strong smells – some students can perceive them as annoying or even nauseating.
The temperature of your studio should be in harmony with the yoga style you are teaching during a particular class. In my own studio, I heat the room for my hot yoga classes up to 32°C/ 90°F, during mild days I just open the windows to keep the room ventilated, and during hot days I close the drapes and use one or two portable fans.
In my experience, the most confortable temperature for a normal yoga class is around 23°C/ 74°F.
A split system is the most effective gadget to warm up and cool down your studio, however this can be quite expensive and consume a lot of energy, so here’s some alternative ideas:
Most houses and apartments in the Northern Hemisphere and south of the Tropic of Capricorn (Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand & the south of Australia) have heating systems. If that’s not the case in your Home yoga Studio, a portable gas or oil heater is enough and won’t use up much energy.
If your studio is small, heaters should be turned on before the class to the required temperature, and then turned off just before the start of the class, otherwise the room will be too warm for a comfortable experience. Receiving your students in a warm room during a cold day already sets the soothing and calming mood.
If you don’t have an air-conditioner or evaporative cooling system installed in your house during hot days, you can use portable fans.
Cooling your drapes is another way to reduce the temperature in your Home Yoga Studio. Providing it’s not hotter outside than inside, open a window, spray a sheet with cold water and use it to cover the window’s opening, allowing the cool air to pass through.
If you’re into DIY, here’s how to build your own air-conditioning unit for US$40: http://lifehacker.com/5335024/how-to-build-a-diy-dorm-legal-ac
Open all your studio windows when it’s cool outside, and when it’s starts to get hotter, close the windows and place dark, thick drapes over the windows, this way the cool air will be trapped inside.
Keep all heat-generating sources, such as candles, lamps, electronic devices, etc. to a minimum inside your studio.
If you are using fans only and you’re not specifically teaching a Hot Yoga class, I recommend to cancel your class if outside gets to 35°C/ 95°F or more. This is just a precaution, as you don’t want students fainting or leaving in the middle of the class.
An excellent service for your Home Yoga Studio is to provide your students with clean & tidy bathroom facilities. Remember that the bathroom will be also part of your Home Yoga Business image. Your students will feel much more confortable knowing there’s a bathroom available if needed, especially elderly persons and pregnant women.
As your studio will not necessarily require a commercial use permit described in this chapter ‘Permits & dealing with local authorities’ you might not be compulsory to install special needs equipment in your bathroom, however it needs to have easy access and room for movement.
- Make sure the access from your studio to your bathroom is clear, tided up and correctly signaled, so your students don’t wander around your home looking for it. Bathroom/toilets arrow signs and door signs are sold on DIY home or office/business warehouses.
- Keep your toilet, sink and garbage basket spotless, especially before each class. Air fresheners are also important.
- Make sure there’s enough toilet paper, soap and hand towels, and if possible, remove all other toiletries to keep your bathroom tidy and pleasant. However, make sure you have extra toilet rolls handy. I describe the decoration in detail in this chapter ‘Studio design, decoration & equipment on a budget’
- A door lock can also be installed in case there isn’t one, just make sure it’s very easy to lock and unlock from the inside.
- Limit your bathroom facilities to toilet and sink, don’t borrow your shower or bathtub – this will only add more work of cleaning tiles and washing towels.
Your Home Yoga Studio doesn’t require wall space per se, however some styles of yoga might require inversions and posture support against the walls. If that’s your case, make sure you have at least one wall that’s spacious enough and doesn’t have a rough surface and no windows, or framed pictures hanging nearby.
Make sure to keep it clean from stains and odors. Also, remove from all the walls anything that is useless for a yoga studio such as boxes, storage units, non-yogic decorations, etc.
To create ‘false walls’ to separate your Yoga room from the rest of the house, or to cover areas or hallways, you can use folding screens or room dividers. I explain more in this chapter ‘Studio design, decoration & equipment on a budget’
Again, depending on your style of yoga you will need different kinds of equipment, nevertheless there are some elements that should be required in most studios:
- Spare yoga mats: at least half of your maximum capacity. It’s a great service to provide your students (especially the new ones) with yoga mats. Make sure to keep them clean, in good condition and always rolled perfectly. Many online stores sell them in bulk so they’re an inexpensive but quite worthy investment. I personally make my students wipe their mats at the end of each class; I have a basket with eucalyptus spray and cloths for that purpose.
- Yoga mat racks or baskets: You can have two yoga mat racks or baskets to distribute the mats between the spare ones you provide, and the ones your regular students leave. My students appreciate not having to travel with their mats every time and have a place in the studio to leave them. Just be careful that nobody else uses their mats.
- Shoe rack o space to leave shoes: As described in this chapter ‘Studio design, decoration & equipment on a budget’ there are great ideas and organization for your students to leave their shoes in a great way.
- Emergency equipment: Just in case of course, some equipment such as a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, available drinking water bottle and landline/charged cell phone nearby are required elements to provide to your studio for any urgent situation.
- Bolsters, blocks & straps: Again it all depends of your type of yoga style and classes, if you will use them or not. Just make sure you have enough for a full class and they’re clean and in good condition. Online stores sell them also in bulk.
- Blankets and eye pillows: These are to provide your students with extra comfort for relaxation or meditation, Shavasana sessions, etc. You can even make your own eye pillows and stuff them with lavender seeds for a pleasant fragrance. I made mine with one-third lavender and two-thirds sushi rice… my students love them!
There are just a few minor changes for a normal room to become your Home Yoga Studio, so keep in mind that your studio can be adaptable for different situations during the year.
That’s is, for example, if you’re taking a break and your studio is closing temporarily, make sure the room can be modified and adapted quickly into the original room in your home, and then it can be quickly adapted back into your studio.
In my case, I always close my studio during the Christmas holidays and it takes me and my family only an hour to convert it back into our living room, and another hour to change it back into my studio.
This might not be ever the case, but big changes in structure or layout of your studio – such as building walls – might become an obstacle if you are moving or relocating your studio in the future. Try to keep your studio as simple as possible.
Stairs and Accesses
If there’s a staircase to access your home or Home Yoga Studio, make sure to keep it clean, clear of toys and other objects, and most of all secure – especially for elderly people. Many DIY home or office/business warehouses sell inexpensive non-slippery tapes and other safety gadgets to maintain your stairs perfectly safe.
Always look for the best alternative for your students to enter and exit your Home Yoga Studio. Perhaps there will be an entrance that it’s different from the exit to avoid too much foot traffic on the stairs or through narrow halls – you just have to let your students know which route to take.
As I describe in this chapter ‘Studio design, decoration & equipment on a budget’ the entrance of your Home Yoga Studio needs to be as tidy and beautiful as possible, and most of all it has to be well signaled, and ideally have a board with your time table and special announcements, as well as brochures for people to grab.
I would only recommend keeping mirrors in your Home Yoga Studio if these mirrors were already in the room and it would be too much trouble to relocate them. In my experience, although big mirrors make the room look larger, they might take up wall space if you’re teaching a Yoga style that requires inversions and support on the walls.
Some students might also feel self-conscious and even unconformable by looking at themselves in the mirror.
Safety & Protection
Most Home Yoga Studios manage cash inside their premises so it’s paramount that you develop a system to store and manage money as safely as possible.
- Never leave money on the counter if you’re distracted or not present.
- Store the cash inside a small safe at all times when you’re not handling money for your students. Keep the safe key or combination as secure as possible.
- Leave enough cash in your safe or cash box as possible, and deposit the rest in your bank or other money storage facilities as frequently as possible.
- There are alternative ways to charge your students without handling as much cash. More details in this chapter ‘Pricing & payment methods’
- There are some inexpensive alarm systems in the market for you to consider as extra protection.
- When you have finally decided which space or room to use as your Home Yoga Studio, sit down by yourself in the middle of the place and take in the moment.
- Express your hopes and dreams that will manifest inside in the near future.
- Wish it well and motivate yourself to be happy inside this space.
- Make a small celebration with your friends, family or partner announcing the start of your big and exciting project.
Allow yourself to transform this space into something magical, enjoying every moment inside of it, and be happy about it.