The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Hilliard Art Museum hosted “Yoga in the Galleries” on Saturday, June 8.
The event was free to the public, allowing students and non-students of all ages to enjoy a morning of peace, partnership, and self-reflection surrounded by the artwork on display in the museum.
Participants were arranged in a circle and instructed to abandon judgment of their fellow attendees as well as abandon judgment of themselves.
“Today was a partner class, so it was the true essence of ‘namaste,’ which is ‘I honor the divine light within you because I recognize the divine light is also within me,’” said Susan Buller, the class’ instructor, who has been studying yoga for ten years.
Buller called attention to the more spiritual, mental side of yoga, rather than the physical.
“There’s always that element of how to connect with yourself, which is really the root of yoga. We forget that it’s not just exercise,” Buller said.
The class seemed to be centered around these ideas, stressing both self-connection and connection with others in the room.
Many times throughout the class, attendees engaged with each other, both physically and verbally, in an effort to “break the ice with movement.” Buller asked the class to share their energies, give each other their support, and to remember that everyone has felt similar emotions in their lives.
She wanted to establish an emphasis on “connection, a sense of humanity, compassion for others, developing love and kindness, and the character of love and kindness,” she said.
There is also the other aspect of the class: the presence of the artwork. The class was stationed in the gallery housing “Gisela Colon: Pods.” Each wall presented its own unique plastic pod which reflected different colors depending on the angle of viewing and lighting.
“Yoga is like a really Zen, meditative sport. So it’s really fun and calming I think to do it in the museum. It’s a really cool experience with all those pods watching you with all the light plays through the plastic. It’s just a really fun space to kind of think about in there,” said Alex Pollard, Visitors’ Service Specialist at the Hilliard.
Buller talked about the class in a slightly different light, mentioning the artistic aspects of yoga and the prevalence of energies within it.
“I think that yoga is an expression of the art of the soul, and the Hilliard I think understands that, and so the energy of creativity from another person just kind of like permeates the space. It’s really lovely,” said Buller.
“We’re surrounded by art pieces. It’s a nice, open space. It’s peaceful,” said Laurie Guilbeau, a former UL student. “I do yoga once a month here. I have always enjoyed it.” One reason she particularly enjoys the class is “because it’s free,” she said while laughing. She also enjoys the variety the class presents: “I’ve seen lots of different instructors so far, and I liked all of them. They all have their own style.”
Events like these “bring awareness to what we have here at the museum … A lot of it is local Louisiana artists or artists who have like taken some sort of Louisiana influence, and so we like to showcase that kind of locality in our museum. We like it to be different too,” said Pollard, in reference to the art involved and different events housed at the museum.
The Hilliard Art Museum hosts “Yoga in the Galleries” on the second Saturday on every month.
Buller said the class is primarily for yoga beginners and those who have fallen out of practice, noting the average difficulty level of the class.
“Someone who is new is going to kind of get a crash course in a way, but then someone who is seasoned would need to tap into that ‘back to the beginner mindset’ so everything is new,” she said.