Yoga to mix with visual art at Fisher

Katherine Goar, USC Fisher Museum’s education and programs coordinator, has always had a keen eye for beautiful artwork and a great enthusiasm for yoga. It is no surprise, then, that she has long thought the wide and soothing space of the Fisher Museum would be a great place to lay out a yoga mat.

Now, her vision has come to fruition.

Beginning this week, the Fisher Museum will host a free yoga class every Monday. The class will be taught in the museum, surrounded by the fall 2009 exhibit, Victor Raphael: Travels and Wanderings, 1979-2009.

“I’ve always been really inspired by the space of the museum,” Goar said. “It’s very tranquil…I do yoga myself and always thought it would be very nice to do yoga in here. Once I learned about this artist, I started planning a class … I’ve always somehow wanted to marry the two, and it just seemed like a perfect wedding here.”

The exhibit that will run in conjunction with the classes is a collection of more than 150 multimedia works detailing Raphael’s travels during the past 30 years.

Catherine Baker, a yoga instructor from USC’s Department of Physical Education who will lead the classes at Fisher, said she was excited by the idea of doing yoga alongside Raphael’s work. She believes Raphael’s work relates well to a principle metaphor that yoga enthusiasts follow: “Water is like the reflectivity of the mind.”

“This way of being able to present [yoga] in a new environment is just creative,” Baker said. “Yoga is holistic so there’s not much it doesn’t relate to.”

Goar said she hopes the program not only gives visitors a chance to do yoga in a serene environment, but also brings more people to the Fisher Museum.

“When you can get people to participate in something while they are in the museum, you’ve got them in there looking at the art and they are doing something participatory,” Goar said.

Some student yoga enthusiasts were intrigued by the idea of practicing in a museum.

Kyle Mombell, a junior majoring in biological sciences who has done yoga in the past, said peaceful and natural settings make a difference when practicing yoga.

“I think it would be cool just because of the nature of yoga and how it’s very sensual,” Mombell said. “For me, when I do yoga, the environment is very important.”

Mombell said he might consider attending the class, as long as the exhibit was not too distracting.

“I feel that [it] might be a little tranquil, interesting,” Mombell said. “But it’s kind of hard to say without seeing the actual exhibit.”

Arif Khan, a graduate student studying engineering management, had similar concerns. He said the exhibit’s multimedia features could detract from the thought processes and focus required during yoga.

“The idea behind yoga is to obtain mental peace through stretching your muscles,” Khan said. “If [the exhibit] is running at the same time it could be distracting because you’re trying to focus on your breathing pattern, muscles and that takes a bit of focus.”

Classes are open to the public and will be held every Monday at 3 p.m. Baker will lead the classes with help from yoga teachers from the USC Recreational Sports program and meditation teachers from the USC Office of Religious Life.

Goar noted she wants to keep this program going with every future exhibit at Fisher.

“My long term vision for this would be yoga under the stars where we have yoga at the museum and then go out in the courtyard and have a night event,” Goar said.