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When you think of yoga, there are a couple images that come to mind. Mostly zen things for sure, but can you honestly admit to thinking of a bright fire red when meditating in downward dog? MICHI has been focusing on color this Spring 2018 learning more and more about color as we uncover the truth of its' psychological and health benefits in physical activity.

 Color therapy in yoga

Photo by Stephanie Sian Smith / ChromaYoga


Nina Ryner is the owner of ChromaYoga in London, UK and her unique and progressive approach to the practice of yoga has allowed for this space to take off on the world stage and have people experience the effects of color therapy with her studio first hand. At Chroma Yoga, you can attend your usual yoga class and have the appropriate sonic, visual, and even scented experience adapted to the practice of your choice. ChromaYoga has provided a space to let color heal and amplify the positive effects of color therapy. We chatted with Nina to get more insight on ChromaYoga’s growth and why thinking beyond the workout has allowed for a more immersive yoga experience in her East London studio.

 Chroma Yoga Red Color Therapy

Photo by Stephanie Sian Smith / ChromaYoga


How did ChromaYoga come to be? You of course are passionate about yoga, but when did you find that yoga and color were a great fit together?

ChromaYoga was born out of a mixture of frustrations I have with the current fitness andwellness industry as well as London in general. I felt like the studios I was going to were not speaking to me– they were either too commercial and cheesy or too new age and stuck in the 90’s. I was enjoying how yoga made me feel but I was really dissatisfied with the environment with which it was being held in.

My background is in art direction, fashion, film, and events, so I’m a very visual person and constantly thinking of new or experiential ideas. I thought combining a design lead space with yoga was pretty obvious but as I did more research I could see that no one else was doing this. That’s when I realized there was a huge gap in the market for something like ChromaYoga.

How did you test this concept of color therapy in your practice? What type of research went into starting Chroma from the ground up?

I’m an avid researcher and can get lost for hours in internet wormholes following link after link. I just read a lot of scientific studies on colour and light and used what I found to pair with the appropriate style of yoga that I thought would match the benefits of the light and colour.

You’ve talked about being a part of lackluster class experiences in your past. What do you think is lacking in the large influx of boutique gyms and classes today?

I just think the boutique gym/studio industry is pretty straight and lacking in imagination and because of this there’s not really much that differentiates them. I’m much more interested in creating new, innovative experiences– that’s what drives me.

What is your stance on evolving the common yoga practice and innovating the standard downward dog image that people automatically think of with yoga?

I don’t in any way want to mess with or change the actual yoga practise– I think that should stay genuine to its' roots. I’m more interested in approaching and questioning the environment in which yoga is practised in while using modern techniques and complementary tools.

[In terms of] Image, representation is really important to me. I think there are too many brands which just peddle the same imagery of white, slender, Eurocentric women doing handstands on beaches or praying by a waterfall somewhere. That market is very much catered for and I wanted to create something which spoke to people who don’t relate to that.

I’ve done a lot of art direction and photoshoots with my friend and photographer Stephanie Sian Smith so we both really get each other’s artistic visions. I wanted the ChromaYoga imagery to be completely removed from what you’d usually associate with a yoga studio whilst still capturing movement, strength and of course, the colour.


Chroma Yoga Blue Color Therapy

Photo by Stephanie Sian Smith / ChromaYoga

How have you found color therapy helps mental health?

Colours have a profound effect on us emotionally and they all provoke a different response depending on your connection with that colour but the ChromaYoga concept is primarily grounded in light therapy research rather than chromotherapy. For the classes where there is insufficient evidence into that light frequency having a physiological effect, we look to how that colour affects us emotionally. We do this with Yellow [for example], which emulates the colour of sunrise or sunset and is a warm, cheerful colour and Pink, which again is a warm, calming colour.

Putting aside the initial emotional response that we all feel when stepping into a room saturated with one colour, the reason why ChromaYoga is so beneficial is because monochromatic light at specific frequencies can have a huge effect on your energy, mood, metabolism, circadian rhythms and muscles which is hugely complimentary to the styles of yoga we pair each colour with. So, although it's the first thing that people notice, the colours (or more specifically, light frequencies) we use focus much more on the physiological than the psychological. That's why we don't offer any Blue classes after 3pm or any Purple classes as these frequencies can have negative health implications when used incorrectly.

How does yoga influence you in your everyday life?

Ironically, now that I’ve opened a yoga studio I actually have very little time to do any yoga! Such is the life of a business owner. But yoga has helped me with a variety of emotional and physical issues.

What about color?

Colour is a great way to express yourself and I definitely use it to represent the kind of mood I’m in that day.

What do you want your guests to feel after they take one of your classes?

Like they’ve accessed a part of their brain which they haven’t been able to before.

Favorite pose?

King Pigeon

What is something people are/would be surprised to learn about Chroma Yoga?

That it’s not from America and that I’m not a yoga teacher!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Healing hands.

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