Methods of Contextual Research (SCAD)

    This project was a study of Yoga in privately owned studios. Locations researched were in Richmond, Virginia by Daniel Regan; Alexandria, Virginia by Anna Calderon; Valdosa, Georgia by Sonia Ghazali and Kingston Jamaica by Susan Bernard.
    For the purpose of this study, privately owned studios refers to yoga studios not located within a gym or other place of practice, it is a private studio dedicated primarily to teaching Yoga.
    Yoga is Hindu system of philosophy aiming at the mystical union of the self with the Supreme Being in a state of complete awareness and tranquility through certain physical and mental exercises a method by which such awareness and tranquility are attained. This employs a broad holistic approach that focuses on teaching people a new lifestyle, way of thinking, and way of being in the world.
    Through this contextual research, we developed a deeper understanding of the yoga culture in stand alone studios in the different locations around the world, and included the environment and stakeholders involved (owners, teachers and students). We were able to use the knowledge to identify improvements to the Yoga Studio's facilities and environments as well as the services provided.
    The objective was to identify, within the operation of the studio, the potential to improve quality as per the demand of the yogis, which will not only strengthen the business but also provide the possibility for expansion.
    1. What are the characteristics of a Yoga Studio?
        •How do the Yogis interact with the environment?
        •How is the spiritual aspect of Yoga interlaced with the physical
    2. Who is attracted to this Yoga Studio and why ?
       •What are the current marketing techniques they are using ?
    3. When is the peak time in the week for the classes ?
    4. How can the Yoga experience be maximized ?
    For Yoga Studio owners, teachers, and students who are dedicated to the quality of Yoga instruction and environment provided, this study provides insight into the Yoga experience in stand-alone studios and the opportunity to examine the culture within its environment.
    This is done by using contextual research methods, including contextual inquiry, empathetic research, lifestyle profiling, interviewing, questionnaires, and a third party method of probing technique to analyze data collected in order to discover opportunities for innovation in maximizing the Yoga experience.
    Unlike a traditional marketing approach, which is typically focus group driven, this study will take an all inclusive approach to studying Yoga through the application of design thinking.
    The research methodologies of observation, interview and a third probing method were used in providing answers to research questions.  These three methods will allowed for the greatest amount of data cultivation without an invasive approach which would adversely affect the research.
    Through observation, the instructors and Yogis were passively and actively monitored. This unfiltered style of data cultivation allowed for the collection of the enclosed. Observations included: how the students interacted with their physical surroundings, the relationship between student and instructors and how that affected the overall experience, the degree of complexity of the class and progression of the students as well as notation of any signs of emotional change (pre and post class)
  • Interviewing:
    Interviews were conducted with both the regular and irregular participants, as well as the instructors and studio owners. This allowed for a comprehensive study on the Yogi's experience. These interactions provided insight into how participants perceive(d) their own experiences with Yoga, how the physical space interlaces with the spiritual practice, and what are the Yogi's influences were to start Yoga as well as why they dedicate themselves to the practice. This assisted with finding opportunities for the Yogi and instructors as well as the Studio Owners in order to strengthen their business strategies for higher member registration and retention.
  • The Wall of Thoughts:
    We used this unique design method as a means of gathering data about the lives of the Yogi's, as well as values and thoughts. This reactionary style of research allowed for an additional method of input from the subjects. This probe was used to better understand the Yoga culture and indicate importance of the studio environment .
    After completing the first steps of the process as described above, I continued with the Secondary research which included various websites of other studios identifying their main focus as well as where possible information on the layout or provisions of their space for the Yogi.
    Pictures were taken of the site while the space was empty to show before and after (at a peak hour) as it relates to the use of the space provided.  I prepared a quick layout of the building and posted this also as a key to clarify the movement through the space.
    A schedule of the classes offered at Yoga Angels along with elements of the brief were posted along with all notes and interviews in the field.
  • Photos shown on this page are taken by Sabriya Simon