4 things we learned at the Smithsonian yoga exhibit

alignyo: 4 things we learned at the Smithsonian yoga exhibit
This cool painting of Vishnu is on display at Yoga: The Art of Transformation
Photo: The Smithsonian
General by Ally Garner

The Yoga: The Art of Transformation exhibit at the Smithsonian Arthur M. Sackler gallery showcases the history of yoga tradition through various artifacts, art forms and media. The information is widespread and surveys topics such as philosophy, religion, health and fitness, entertainment, and cultural relations.  Not only is Yoga: The Art of Transformation a visually beautiful installation, it also educates patrons about yoga as a practice. If you can’t make it to the exhibit, here are the top four things we learned on our visit.

1. Yoga wasn’t always about a physical practice

Asanas or yoga poses came about many years after yoga as a philosophy was established. There is little evidence that pre modern yoga was asana based. Instead, it was all about the philosophy. 

2. Sometimes yogis were represented as more than zen

The exhibit dedicates space to the topic of how yogis were often shown as sinister, many times being categorized as spies. This perception started to shift in the late 19th century. 

3. The Western relationship to yoga has changed

Similar to the imagery and idea that yogis were sinister, Western understandings of the yoga tradition have not always been so welcoming. But, by the mid 20th century when yoga transformed into a physical practice touted for its health benefits, attitudes began to change. Now it is a worldwide practice that brings people together across all regions. 

4. Yoga and art are deeply intertwined

As the first ever comprehensive collection of yoga inspired art, the exhibit conveys the deep relationship between yoga and art. Not only through sculpture, paintings and photography but also by how beautiful and strong we all look striking our best Warrior II!

About the Author

Ally Garner

Present: yoga lover, D.C. graduate student, aspiring writer, proud Midwesterner, emerging politico

Past: researcher, sorority girl, London resident (study abroad), blogger

Inspiration: my family, Tina Fey, people who can fly in yoga class (I'm coming for you side crow), cupcakes, travel, history, flowers, books, laughing 

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