We now have an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence to add to intuition and anecdote: incorporating views to nature in your yoga practice can increase the benefits you gain. Studies have shown that muscle tension decreases, and levels of the stress hormone cortisol diminish after adults perform the same activities in garden-like environments, as opposed to indoors.
Jardin de Malinalco is a yoga meditation garden designed for the Ollinyotl Holistic Center’s yoga studio. Working closely with the studio's owner and staff the design goal was to create an opportunity to experience the combined health benefits of yoga within nature.
Visitors enter a small entry courtyard framing views to the sacred Cerro de los Idols. There they are welcomed by the sound of the rivulet of water splashing softly from the fountain and features a natural stone bench on which to pause to take in the sweeping curves of the garden. As they enter the yoga space and settle in on their mats scattered around the beautiful wood floor under a soaring ceiling of grass thatch. As they turn to face the huge picture window their view is shifted back to the lush garden set against a backdrop of the warm brick garden wall. A perfect focal point for meditation augmented by the sound of the softly running water in the pond just beyond the window.
Unbeknownst to most visitors, the garden incorporates a hidden children's garden path that weaves in amongst the palms to a 'secret' garden playroom created to provide endless entertainment for the owners son and other small visitors.
The design responds to the local climate and culture sitting lightly on the land with the use of sustainable, locally sourced and reclaimed materials, and drought tolerant plants.
The physiological data measured in this study suggests that natural settings elicit a response that includes a component of the parasympathetic nervous system associated with the restoration of physical energy (Ulrich et al., 1991a).
"The space in front of our yoga studio had various challenges... Audrey came up with a brilliant solution that is both attractive and practical. Throughout the planning phase to the actual layout of the garden, she was accessible, dedicated and creative. We feel very fortunate to have worked with her and highly recommend her and her new design studio." - Rosalia Segura, Directing Manager
Rachel Martinez, Ollinyotl Holistic Center