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Grinnellians gather for art appreciation and yoga

Zach Walsh
Grinnelllians participate in calming yoga exercises surrounded by art.

You are upside down in a downward dog position, and what you see between your legs is a 7 feet by 5 feet painting that stares back at you. This past Tuesday, Sept. 19, instructor Joy Jones commenced this semester’s Yoga in the Museum program, which takes place in the Grinnell College Museum of Art in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Live Well Grinnell and the museum have co-sponsored the program, which is open to all levels of yoga practice. For 16 years, the Grinnell College Museum of Art has offered Yoga in the Museum as a way to introduce attendees to exhibitions present in the space. This allows participants to experience art in a distinct way, in comparison to a museum-goer’s usual tour through the gallery’s works. 

Yoga in the Museum opens itself to the general public as well as the campus community, which allows for the Grinnell College students, staff and faculty to meet members of the wider Grinnell audience. At the event on Sept. 19, some of the attendees who were doing their cobra and warrior 2 poses could not relate to each through their classes or roles on campus. However, that did not stop Jones from cultivating an encouraging space for all participants. 

Tilly Woodward, curator of academic and community outreach, said that Jones makes people of any yoga skill level feel welcome. Woodward wrote in an email, “One of the things I love about hosting yoga in the museum is that it gives people the opportunity to visit the museum repeatedly, so they can really get to know the exhibitions, and it gives people time to slow down, to be present in their bodies in a beautiful space, surrounded by world class art.” 

Jones said that she has been a part of the yoga community for 15 years. After training as a teacher, she now works at the Paul W. Ahrens Fitness Center in downtown Grinnell. Her mentors previously taught Yoga in the Museum at the College, and as they have retired, Jones took up their position about a year and a half ago, continuing the tradition now.

“Honestly, I didn’t come into this building often before I started teaching,” said Jones. The museum, according to her, is a “fabulous location” for a yoga practice. She said that with the abundance of yoga tutorials online for these exercises, it is nice to experience it with other people, especially in a space like the museum of art. 

“What I’ve enjoyed doing here is getting to know the artwork, and getting to know the students and having students get to know yoga and the faculty members, too, all in one space,” she said. Jones said that she is excited to see familiar faces return, but she also welcomes new attendees to the program.

Jones said that the yoga practice can help with being in a place of art because the movement gets one out of their head and into their body. “Sometimes, we’re seeing too much in our heads, and we’re thinking too much about it. We just need to get into our bodies. You know, let the creativity flow,” she said.

Alumna Anika Jane Beamer `22 currently works at Grinnell College as a science fellow in the office of communications and marketing. Beamer has attended Yoga in the Museum several times, and said that seeing the artwork change between sessions can be a distinct and special experience.

“It’s so special that it’s in the Museum as opposed to a studio. Rather than mirrors and exercise equipment, you’re surrounded by art. In terms of connecting with yourself, in your breath and your body, I think it’s way more effective that way,” said Beamer.

Sadie Weiner `24 said that participating in her first yoga class in person rather than online made a huge difference. “I felt really connected to everyone around me and connected to myself,” she said. 

“I also don’t think I would have come to this space otherwise, so it definitely brings people in,” said Weiner, referring to the yoga event. “It’s less about working out and more about connecting with yourself and connecting with the moment,” she said, referring to the program taking place in the museum. “I think it’s a really beautiful, cool place to do it.”

Yoga in the Museum with Joy Jones will take place Tuesdays from 12:15 to 12:50 p.m. in the Grinnell College Museum of Art, barring a conflicting museum event or exhibition change.

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About the Contributors
Krista Spies
Krista Spies, Arts Editor
Krista Spies is a fourth-year English and Spanish major from St. Louis, MO. She loves writing about the arts almost as much as getting tattooed, and she hopes to turn going to concerts into a full-time job.
Zach Walsh
Zach Walsh, Staff Photographer
Hey y'all! My name is Zack, I'm a third year, and my pronouns are he/him. I am a photographer here at the S+B and enjoy taking photos. If you have any proposals for photos events or opportunities, feel free to reach out!
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