By John Hanley
“Art galleries are often a space of silence, introspection, and awareness, which is perfect for yoga.”
Yoga. Thoughts of peaceful gardens, tranquil atmospheres, and quiet reflection spring to mind. But what about an art gallery?
Red Stick Peace Makers, a coalition of yoga instructors and other individuals committed to promoting world peace, is starting up a series of Yoga classes to be held in the LSU Museum of Art, kicking off on Dec. 4th and continuing with weekly classes in January. The Dec. 4th kickoff will be a free class open to all levels of experience (the only request being that you bring your own mat), and subsequent classes in the gallery will be offered for a fee.
The classes will be held in one of the museum’s art galleries, which currently houses a special exhibit from artist Leroy Neiman entitled Action. The exhibit features drawings, paintings, and prints of famous sports artists and celebrates the human body and form, which the museum hoped would work well as a liaison between the artistic quality of the museum and the physical ideals of yoga.
“We have a lot of artists in the yoga community and many teachers use art in various forms to inspire their teachings,” said Beth Zagurski, president of Red Stick Peace Makers. “Plus, art galleries are often a space of silence, introspection, and awareness, which is perfect for yoga.”
“Museums are constantly trying to create new experiences for engaging with art and to develop our audience,” added Lucy Perera, programs coordinator at the LSU Museum of Art. “This program will provide attendees with the opportunity to participate in an excellent yoga practice while also having the time and space to really experience the art.”
Perera says that, beyond her work at the LSU museum, she has been involved in both yoga and other yoga-museum programs, and sees a strong correlation between art and yoga.
“Yoga lets us become in tune with our bodies, [and] it’s a way of life, a way of treating our fellow humans,” she said. “Art also allows us to tune into emotions, it expands our minds in healthy ways and can give us insights into other ideas, cultures, and traditions.”
Perera says this is the LSU museum’s first attempt at something like this, but that they hope to continue the classes in the future if it deems successful.
Ultimately, the Peacemakers are hoping to offer yoga to people who live and work in the downtown area, to raise awareness for healing arts like yoga, and to use any funds raised for various community outreach programs that offer yoga to youth and people of all economic standings in Baton Rouge.
One of the Peacemakers’ biggest fundraisers is their annual World Peace Day Festival, the next of which is scheduled for spring of 2015.
“World Peace Day has become a festival that allows the Baton Rouge community to experience holistic healing from yoga to acupuncture to reiki in a family-friendly atmosphere,” explained Zagurski.
Until then, the Peacemakers are hoping to raise funds with classes such as the aforementioned, upcoming collaboration with the Museum of Art, and to continue outreaching to the community in partnership with the museum.
Perera says the LSU Museum of Art is already making plans to incorporate some of the Peacemakers’ yoga instructors into their summer community arts event, the Neighborhood Arts Project.
For now, the two organizations have come together in a seamless mélange of art forms, and hope to bring the community together just as easily.
“Yoga is about unity,” said Zagurski, “The Peacemakers’ mission is to help individuals find peace so they can share peace with one another.”
So, if you’re in need of some stress relief as finals approach, think about breaking out the yoga mats and heading over to the LSU Museum of Art for a bit of meditation, inspiration, and peac