Mindful Yoga at the Museum

One of my favorite things about being a co-owner of a small business is having the opportunity to provide special experiences for people that they ordinarily would not have. Sometimes we get to combine our favorite things, like chocolate and peanut butter, but for me it is yoga and art! It is hard to believe that over a year ago Yoga Roots was contacted by Shelburne Museum to see if we could collaborate. Neither of us knew what that would look like, and we both thought art and yoga would be a fabulous combination! Meanwhile, we are on our second year of combining the mindfulness of looking at art with the mindful movement of yoga.

There is something very special about being at Shelburne Museum after hours. There is a stillness that descends on the grounds, as if all the exhibits are sighing a big breath of relief that the day is done. This is the time when Mindfulness at the Museum begins. In June, we all met on the deck outside the store, yoga mats in hands and taking in the warm rays of sunshine of the early evening. Together we walked to the Webb Gallery with Katharine Noiva, Guide & Volunteer Coordinator, leading the way.

Each session begins with a private overview of the exhibit. Katharine invites participants to pick a spot for their mat in front of a painting, and gaze as she leads them through a guided mindfulness exercise. This process allows the viewer to observe the piece without judgement, without structure or a description and enables the viewer to come to their own observations and conclusions. It is amazing to me all you can see, wonder about and absorb in one sitting. The best part is at the end, getting up and taking a closer look. Katharine then gathers the group for an informational lecture on the exhibit, answers questions and discusses the overall styles of the painters and the behind the scenes stories. These are not the stories on the card descriptions next to the paintings on the wall. These stories give you a glimpse inside the curator of the piece, the artist and the relationships that surround it.

When the weather is beautiful and dry the “party” heads outside for an all levels yoga class led by Kathleen Fleming, from Yoga Roots. This past week we gathered underneath the apple trees to practice yoga. Kathleen wove the mindfulness teachings from the art program in to the yoga practice connecting breath with movement, while the sun warmed our bodies. Before we knew it our time was up! We departed in a dreamlike state walking up the hill, taking in the quiet buildings around us, the beautiful gardens, and listening to the humming of bees and the chirping birds.

This special collaboration is not to be missed! The next Mindful Yoga at the Museum will be July 23rd at the Pleissner Gallery and then again August 20th. Weather permitting, we will be in the beautiful Bostwick Gardens. All are welcome to come join us! For more information www.shelburnemuseum.org

Lynn Alpeter