Yoga in the Gallery combines art, relaxation at UM Museum

Posted on Sep 22 2017 - 8:00am by Jacqueline Schlick

Each Monday the University Museum hosts Yoga in the Gallery, an early-morning event open to the community and offering participants a chance to unwind and relax while taking in the artwork and galleries featured at the museum.

A yoga class is held in the UM Museum’s gallery on Monday morning. Photo by Billy Schuerman

The sessions are led by an official instructor at 8:30 a.m. in the Lower Skipwith Gallery, the long and narrow section at the back of the building where different artists display their works for a limited time. The yoga sessions are free and for drop-ins, no appointment or registration required.

“It’s bring-your-own-mat which is pretty fun,” Debbie Nelson, University Museum membership, events and communications coordinator, said. “People don’t have to worry about signing up and can just stop in.”

The Lower Skipwith Gallery is temporarily under renovation but yoga classes will carry on in the speaker’s gallery, a small room located to the left of the entrance.

“People enjoy the Lower Gallery because it provides an open and serene feeling, so we hope to move it back soon,” Nelson said.

Yoga in the Gallery is programmed by RebelWell, Ole Miss’ center for health promotion. RebelWell has made creative use for reserved places on campus since space is so limited with construction and growing university attendance.

Photo by Billy Schuerman

“The university’s RebelWell team was looking for opportunities to offer programs for community members, faculty and staff so we partnered with the museum,” Andrea Jekabsons, associate director of human resources, said. “It’s a beautiful space and space is a premium on campus. We thought it was a perfect place to offer yoga specifically because it provides access for the community and is in such a gorgeous location.”

Yoga in the Gallery is just one of the ways RebelWell provides students, faculty and staff with recreational opportunities. It also established a walking path around the Grove and formalized bikers’ use of Whirlpool Trails, changing its name to the South Campus Rail Trail.

“We put in programming and signage to claim the Whirlpool Trail area because it wasn’t an established space at that time,” Jekabsons said. “We also worked with the University Museum to promote the Bailey’s Woods behind the building.”

The Bailey’s Woods Trail connects William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak to the University Museum and is a path that takes about 20 minutes to complete. It is now used by RebelWell for “mindful walks.” The guided trail aims to encourage the community to breathe, travel slowly and escape the demands of the day for a short while to appreciate and live in the moment. Faulkner himself was no stranger to the trail and was found many times doing exactly what RebelWell seeks for its participants.

Creative locations throughout town and campus are being used to ensure variety and maximization of the space Ole Miss has while allowing the university to branch outside of the recreation center or regular classrooms.

“When we started RebelWell, the concern was for the Turner Center because it was so heavily impacted,” Jekabsons said. “We tried to think creatively for other areas and looked into facilities on campus.”

Photo by Billy Schuerman

Yoga and historic artifacts might not seem like they would immediately coincide, but the mindfulness and concentration yoga requires is supported well by the quiet and calm of the University Museum.

“It’s a relaxing thing to come to a place like this to start your Monday morning,” Nelson said.

The yoga sessions last one hour and are open to the public. The sessions carry on throughout the fall season, with the exception of Nov. 20. The University Museum is located at the intersection of South 5th and University Avenue.

Pick up a mat and enjoy this free event every week. You may even learn a thing or two about ancient Greek history.