Krannert provides a different kind of art class


Wenyuan Chen

The Krannert Art Museum has a variety of opportunities for students such as displaying artwork in the galleries and holding classes. The museum will now hold yoga classes on Fridays at noon.

By Tess O'Brien, Staff writer

Calming music spreads throughout the basement studio of the Krannert Art Museum. The soft overhead lighting bounces off of the beautiful hardwood floor. Once a week, the same crowd of about 30 people gather to appreciate the art offered at the museum. In this studio, however, there are no paintings hung up on the walls, no sculptures to admire, no installations of any sort. The only things adorning the room are the 30 foam mats evenly spaced on the floor.

Widely practiced and largely accepted as a way to achieve peace of mind and body, yoga is an athletic discipline that many people find extremely beneficial to increase mobility and relieve stress. The Krannert Art Museum promotes the practice through its series of free yoga classes held at noon on Fridays in its basement classroom studio.

Gene Grass, resident of Urbana, started attending the classes about three years ago after a friend referred him. Grass is a cyclist, who averages over 100 miles of biking per week, and found that yoga improves his workouts. The Friday classes, he said, makes his long Sunday rides much more painless.

“The art gives it a great atmosphere,” Grass said. “It’s really pleasant this way, rather than being in a gym environment. And then the people who come here all want to better themselves and that’s great too. It’s a nice quiet spot here.”

The class is situated in a sectioned-off gallery, where various forms of art can be appreciated just around the corner. Instructor Jodi Adams, who has been working with the program for five years, said sometimes installations are hung on the walls of the studio, which makes for an even more calming atmosphere.

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“I think that yoga is available anywhere,” Adams said. “And the fact that they do it here for free — it’s beautiful. I like the vibe of this place. Sometimes we get to practice upstairs in the big gallery, and that’s a ton of fun. I personally like yoga outside and when it’s nice, actually, we do go outside. Many people have never done that.”

Krannert Art Museum started offering the class about 10 years ago when Deb Lister, one of the main figureheads of yoga in the community, started it. Once she moved out of the community, the instructing position was passed down to Adams, who has been practicing yoga for about 20 years.

Clementine Zimnicki, freshman in LAS, said she wishes she could attend the free classes, but is unable to do so due to her schedule.

She started practicing yoga as a requirement for her high school gym class. Zimnicki said she continued practicing once the class was over because “it was really, really calming” and makes her feel healthier.

The extent of yoga’s benefits is widely debated among professionals, but in general, it is agreed that yoga increases flexibility, promotes a balanced metabolism and creates mental clarity. Yoga classes also create social opportunities, both between the instructor and the entire class.

Grass said that classes at Krannert are fun because of the tight-knit community.

“When I came here, I knew maybe one or two other people,” Grass said. “And then you see the same people every week, and you get to know them and talk with them and see them outside of the yoga class.”

Some of the people who attend the classes have been there since the program first started, but there are always newcomers who are interested in trying it out. Therefore, Adams offers alternatives and variations to each of the poses to ensure that everyone, regardless of skill level, is able to participate.

“It’s not just one size fits all,” Adams said. “There’s always going to be something we can’t do and we can either let that defeat us or let that fire us up, and maybe try something new, and I think that’s a beautiful approach to the practice.”

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