‘Yoga in the Gallery’ class brings zen to Illini Union

By Stephanie Kim

For the first time, students will be able to gaze at portraits in the Illini Union Art Gallery — while doing yoga.

The Illini Union Board, in collaboration with Campus Recreation, will provide a free yoga class with a certified instructor from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. The class is a part of the three-week long series, with two more classes being taught Sept. 17 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Sept. 24 from noon to 1 p.m. Students are to bring their own mats.  

The purpose of the event is to help students relax and release stress from school and everyday affairs, said Dasha Patton, arts director of the Illini Union Board and senior in business with a concentration in entrepreneurship.

“It’s Zen. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet,” she said. “And it’s a great way for the artists to be seen and to get people in there who don’t know that the Art Gallery exists.”

The Art Gallery is located on the main level of the Illini Union in the northwest wing and features different artwork every month. 

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The current exhibit is “The Portraits Project: A Portrait of Cancer Across America.” The exhibit is a collection of photos that were collected during an annual cross-country bike ride by the Illini 4000, a registered student organization, which is also a nonprofit organization that raises money for cancer research and services. 

Erin Molloy, graduate student in Engineering, will be the instructor for the class on Wednesday, as well as on Sept. 17, while Pat Casey, a group fitness instructor for Campus Recreation, will be leading the class on Sept. 24. 

As an instructor for three classes with Campus Recreation, Molloy said that she is excited to teach in a space without mirrors and external distractions. 

The routine will consist of gentle hatha yoga, which is a traditional style that incorporates flowing poses and will be directed toward those who do not have a regular yoga practice.

“We’ll do gentle poses and then we’ll build into strengthening into poses with longer holds,” she said. “Then we’ll conclude the practice with restorative poses and relaxation. “

But more than relaxing, Molloy said she believes the environment will help the participants keep focus and even find inspiration. 

“Yoga is a wonderful practice for healing, and being surrounded by survivors of cancer who obviously have done a lot of healing will be very inspiring,” she said. 

With this, she said she hopes the event will give students newfound energy.

“Whenever you have a ton of people practicing yoga together, there’s a lot of energy,” she said. “I hope that everyone who participates leaves re-energized and restored and basically can use it to find what they need go forward in their day.” 

Stephanie can be reached at [email protected].