It’s nearing the end of semester, assessments are piling up and exam season is upon us.
So, what’s a good way to take a break from our studies, reduce stress and do something good for our mental health?
Yoga in the Gallery is the perfect answer!
What is Yoga in the Gallery?
Yoga in the Gallery is a FREE initiative by the Canberra Museum & Gallery (CMAG), where you can attend a 50 minute yoga class surrounded by wonderful artworks.
Run by highly experienced yoga teachers, the class is designed for beginners, all the way to advanced skill levels.
The sessions run until the end of May, every Wednesday morning from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.
The idea of a free yoga class in an art gallery is a pretty cool concept, so I had to try it out.
CMAG is centrally located in the city, and with heaps of parking available at Mooseheads carpark, it was really easy to get to.
Having never been here before, I enjoyed the ease of parking and having my destination smack bang to the right of me as I hopped out of the car.
The receptionist greeted me as I walked in the front doors and directed me to Gallery 3, the yoga location.
CMAG provides a calm and serene backdrop for the Yoga in the Gallery experience.
As soon as I walked in, I immediately thought to myself, “Wow. This is really nice,”.
The space, simply put, was perfect.
It was a large space, so you don’t need to worry about being squished in. Free to set up your mat wherever you like, I went behind the people who entered the class just before me.
Yoga mats are BYO, but if you don’t have one don’t worry – Kmart sells them for only $5.
Genuinely, it couldn’t be a more relaxing environment if it tried.
Being a cold winter morning, the gallery was warm and comforting. The heating was appreciated, yet it didn’t get too hot once we got into the swing of the session.
Being able to do yoga, amidst the artistic inspiration of the gallery, really creates a unique experience.
The walls were lined with different paintings, pictures and creations, with sculptures and white columns breaking up the area.
I felt like it was a great place to take the yoga really seriously, as you are surrounded by like-minded people.
If you want to start your day by connecting your body with your mind, this is the place for you.
Starting with some stretches before the instructor arrived, I was ready to go.
Seriously, if I can do yoga, you can do yoga.
Having never done something like this before, and not being very flexible, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the class.
Luckily, instructor Matt did an amazing job at making sure every move was adaptable for different skill levels.
So, if you’re a yoga regular, great! You can be challenged by some of the moves. But if you have never done yoga before like me, this is a great place to start.
The class began with a relaxing warmup, starting on our backs. This allowed me to really loosen up, and start to focus on my mind and breathing.
Matt flowed us through a bunch of moves, which were guided by his voice as he moved around the room.
The words “sensation” and “flow” were used quite frequently, and rightly so.
Matt’s sensation of his voice, as he went around the room, really created an immersive experience.
He always explained the proper alignment and breathing techniques of the moves with genuine encouragement and clarity.
While some of the moves were a bit hard for my inflexible self, Matt always offered modifications and encouraged the class to listen to our bodies and do what felt right.
Something I struggled with throughout the class was my breathing. I would find myself focusing too hard on what move I was doing (definitely overthinking it) and I would sometimes forget to breathe.
Fortunately, Matt would redirect us to connect with and focus on our breath. Once I had this breathing thing down pat, I felt like I could deepen my poses and really open my body up.
For me the hardest part wasn’t actually the moves, it was keeping my mind focused with my body.
At times I had to try really hard to not let my mind wander or race.
To bring myself back into the moment, I would actually open my eyes and have a brief look around, to remember the relaxing environment I was in.
But again, Matt’s direction from his instructions continually brought me back to the focus of the moves.
With moves ranging from downward dog and child’s pose, to things like Warrior One and Warrior Two (you’ll just have to go to see what these moves are), I felt myself getting more of the hang of it as the session went on.
The moves are designed to provide different sensations to different parts of the body, and getting to seriously stretch out my body just felt so good.
As the session started to wrap up, we finished like we started, lying on our backs. I thought to myself, “Is it really over?” as the session went very quick.
Luckily there are five more free classes I can go to.
The flow my body went through during the session was very calming and positive. Rolling my mat up and leaving CMAG, I left this experience with a newfound appreciation for yoga, as it is much harder than it seems. I also left with a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Overall, my first time participating in yoga, paired with the perfect setting, was a truly unique experience. Matt was a wonderful instructor who was really with you for every moment of the yoga journey.
Whilst challenging at times, the experience was very fulfilling and I couldn’t recommend this class enough.
If you need a place to go and switch off, listen to your body and do some general stress relief, then CMAG’s Yoga in the Gallery is the place for you!
Where: Canberra Museum & Gallery
When: Every Wednesday 8:00 A.M. – 9:00 A.M. (until end of May)
Tickets: Free! Available here
What to bring: Yoga mat