The list of physical activities one can perform in an art gallery are fairly limited. However, the Ackland Art Museum is offering an unconventional workshop perfect for relieving stress amongst prized art. Welcome to Yoga in the Galleries.
Once a week on Mondays from 12 to 1 p.m., Joanne Marshall, a current research professor at UNC, teaches a mindful yoga class right in the middle of the art galleries in the Ackland. The point of the event is to promote mindfulness and to give a relaxing break in the middle of a hectic day.
Marshall said she hopes those who participate in her class will take a minute to relax and take care of themselves. This class is more focused on getting your head in the right place than on strength training.
The Ackland is home to a range of rotating exhibits that provide diversity and rich art to the University and community. It is usually closed to the public on Mondays, which allows the yoga class to fill the space and be close to the art.
“This class helps you build mindfulness, which is important to us here at the museum,” Allison Lathrop, the Ackland public programs manager, said. “Because one of our goals is to foster close looking so that you have time to slow down and really take in works of art, and make connections between yourself and the works of art.”
Yoga has many health benefits to the mind and the body. The classes, when combined with art, are meant to provide a place for community members to take a minute to separate from the stresses that occur during a normal workweek.
“This class is good for both the wellness of my body and the wellness of my mind,” Ann Matthysse, a biology professor at UNC and a longtime participant of Yoga in the Galleries, said.
This event promotes mental and physical wellness while also encouraging the participants to be in touch with the art around them. The art surrounding the class travels around the museum, so each visit gives the students a different experience with new art.
Marshall said to truly benefit from this mindful yoga, it is better to go twice a week. In addition to teaching at the Ackland, she also offers a class on Tuesday evenings at the Student Recreation Center on campus.
“Yoga in the Galleries is my method of getting in some stretching and some stress relief in a really beautiful setting,” Patricia Gensel, another regular yoga participant, said.
Marshall said the main things she focuses on in her classes are breathing exercises and poses that assist posture and breathing. Yoga in the Galleries is for beginners and advanced yoga lovers alike. The event is free for members and $5 for non-members, making it an easy way to enjoy the museum.
“I would like my participants to take care of themselves," Marshall said. "It is a wonderful way to take away the stresses of everyday life."
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