Every Sunday, the Sackler Gallery’s Art in Context offers the chance to practice yoga in one of the Yoga: The Art of Transformation exhibit’s salons. You will have to register ahead of time, and the class has a cost of $15, about what you’d pay in a yoga studio. There are specialized classes for kids and seniors. If you are interested, you need to hurry because most of the slots are sold out, even into January.
Washington Post – Sackler’s ‘Art in Context’ lets participants practice yoga in the gallery
The marble jina from that first room was in Susan Levine’s head throughout the class. “It looked so relaxed, but really very aware. That’s the essence of meditation,” said Levine, who lives in Rockville. The other image she couldn’t shake: The black-and-white video of two legendary teachers, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and B.K.S. Iyengar, that played on a screen right next to where the mats were rolled out. “It’s history looking down on you,” she said.
You can’t just throw down a mat and start doing a Sun Salutation while you’re touring the exhibit. The Smithsonian requires a certain decorum and protocol. Of course, I dont’ think a guard or monitor would stop you from slipping into Warrior II when you feel inspired.
My YTT pals are planning to visit the exhibit this Sunday, unless they chicken out with the excuse of overbooked schedules and family duties.
And the next round of litigation over yoga in public schools got underway in California:
The Washington Post – Parents appeal judge’s ruling allowing yoga in public schools
Broyles filed a notice of appeal Wednesday Oct. 30 in San Diego Superior Court on behalf of parents who oppose the yoga curriculum in the Encinitas Union School District. Broyles first filed a lawsuit regarding the district’s yoga program last February on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, whose child attended El Camino Creek Elementary School in Carlsbad.
You can be sure that this suit will make it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
We can all breathe easier now. The media gorilla in DC town has issued a first opinion (Not just an announcement of the opening or the social buzz around it). The Washington Post critic Michael Sullivan issued his assessment of the Smithsonian’s exhibit on yoga art at the Freer-Sackler Gallery on the Mall:
‘Yoga: The Art of Transformation’ art review – The Washington Post
Whether the goal is awakening, enlightenment, power or merely good health, people practice yoga today for many different reasons. Yet few understand its tangled Indian roots. Originating more than 2,000 years ago as an offshoot of Hinduism by a group of ascetics who renounced society in order to end suffering, yoga gradually cross-pollinated with Buddhism, Sufi Islam and Jainism before flowering into what we know it as today.
Among its 133 artifacts (including sculpture, paintings, manuscripts, photographs, books, film clips and other materials), the exhibition contains many depictions of the practice that contradict the contemporary stereotype of yoga. Just saying the word now evokes a cliched image of a blissed-out hipster doing a downward dog on an expensive yoga mat.
All I need to do now is actually hop on the Metro to go downtown to see the exhibit. I’ve been consumed by resurrecting and updating another website and it has stolen all my time. I must make time for this, and not be like thousands of other Washingtonians who never take advantage of all the marvelous exhibits that go through DC museums and galleries, not to mention the permanent exhibits.
Washington PostAlec Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria, bring glitz to D.C. yoga gala
“And really, what could be a better way to end this stressful week in Washington than an evening celebrating the art of staying calm? The black-tie, $1,000-a ticket evening (relocated from the gallery to the Mellon because of the shutdown) celebrated the debut of the Sackler Gallery’s “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” exhibit, which opens Saturday. Because there was no time to move the gala back to the museum after the government reopened, photos of sculptures and paintings from the exhibit were shown on video screens on the wall of the dimly lighted room, which piped in soothing, dreamy music throughout the night.”
Of course, the social events revolving around the exhibit give rise to a lot of frivolous reporting about the high-profile sponsors, like Alex Baldwin and his yoga teacher wife, and the usual cliches about yoga. But that’s the price to be paid for making it to the big time. At least, Baldwin makes a show of not taking himself too seriously. The exhibit website lists dozens of events so multiple visits may be necessary to take in all the facets of the exhibit.
An alternative online publication, CounterPunch, gives a new spin to the momentum building around yoga in mainstream North American culture by pointing out that the greatest potential for growth and benefit lies in the age group above 50 years old because of yoga’s ability to address many of the health issues confronting that group.
CounterPunch – Are Seniors the Vanguard of American Yoga?
“Francina seems to take delight in defying conventional wisdom by insisting that older practitioners are often more flexible than students in their 20s and usually more patient and consistent in their practice of the poses. She insists, in fact, that seniors, not shy away from demanding and vigorous practice for fear of getting injured, and should embrace yoga’s “advanced” inversion poses — the headstand and shoulder stand, among them – because these poses, in addition to their spiritual majesty, have unique anti-aging benefits, including their ability to “detoxify” the internal organs and to improve blood circulation to the brain – a key challenge as gravity and age naturally take hold.”
Kavita Das published an opinion piece about the distance developing between yoga in the Western world and the South Asian community. She’s also concerned that it is losing its spiritual dimension.
QuartzAny practice of yoga that isn’t spiritual isn’t really yoga
“Recently, I attended a panel discussion to launch the South Asian American Perspectives on Yoga in America (SAAPYA), a new initiative that seeks to restore yoga’s South Asian heritage. Specifically, the group was founded to provide a “platform and network for the voices of yoga teachers and students from across the South Asian diaspora.” Among its findings: a survey of more than two years worth of yoga journals yielded no South Asians on covers or articles authored by South Asians. Similarly, at a major yoga conference, out of 64 presenters, only seven of them were people of color. Of them, three were of South Asian origin; none was a woman.”
A personal account of a cancer patient’s first encounter with yoga as a solace for the suffering caused by disease took place in a New York City YMCA..
NY Times Living With Cancer: Patient Yoga
“As we became warriors, children, cats, cows and pigeons, I realized that concentrating on position and breath takes even the most cerebral of us out of our nattering, hectoring brains, reminding us that we have feet, ankles, knees, a spinal column, arms, shoulders, neck, mouth, all of which can stretch and relax, stretch and relax to release tension.”
For those who want to explore the use of yoga in dealing with cancer, you can also check out Yoga4Cancer and Yoga Bear.
The summer season of festivals of yoga, music, feel-good culture and magic has begun. The first Wanderlust festival opened in Vermont:
Well+Good NYC – Behind the scenes at Wanderlust Festival The Wanderlust Festival kicked off its third year in Stratton, Vermont yesterday. And Well+Good came to experience our first one ever (we had to check out the buzz), joining yoga and music lovers from the all over the northeast, who poured into the adorable ski village for four days of non-stop superstar yoga.
This spread has some nice photos of the activities.Wanderlust is the leading organizer of yoga festivals (seven in 2013), but there are others springing up all over the country, just as yoga conferences in the model of Yoga Journal have proliferate. There will be a yoga festival in Virginia in Labor Day weekend, Floyd Yoga Jam, but it’s hard to consider that in the DC area. It a five-hour trip down the Shenandoah valley. But I guess that’s the point. None of the festivals are smack in the middle of metropolitan areas: people want to get out into nature and landscapes.
Wanderlust does organize yoga in the city events, this year in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.
This news article is really about the absence of news:
Washingtonian Does DC Need “Fat Yoga”?
Mulqueen says she can understand the uncomfortable feeling of walking into a room where you’re the minority; while she’s not overweight, she says she’s often the oldest person in her yoga studios. The same uncomfortable feeling is often felt among less flexible men or people who are completely new to the practice. Mulqueen points out, “Anyone who walks into a yoga room for the first time feels self-conscious.”
I suspect that we already have specialized yoga for overweight people in the DC area, but it’s organized as a private class, with one or more people participating. Most novices are fearful of doing yoga incorrectly; throw in the shame of being overweight and there’s an added incentive to take class in more controlled environment with teachers who are sensitive to specialized needs.
There’s an equally pointed question: is yoga too tailored to young, slender and athletic women? Look at the ads in Yoga Journal.