This weekend my boyfriend surprised me with a surprise date to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery to go and check out the newly opened (limited time!) yoga exhibit called “The Art of Transformation.” I’m an avid yogi currently practicing at Corepower Yoga (check out my past yoga blog here) but I do not know much about the history of yoga or its prominent relevance to Indian culture.
“The origins of Yoga: The strongest evidence for the emergence of yogic techniques and goals dates to between the fifth and third centuries BC. In northern India men and women seeking to transcend suffering renounced society to devote themselves to meditation and austerities. Building on the tenets of the Vedas, the primary texts of orthopedic Hinduism, these renounces shared a belief in the samsara (the perpetual cycle of inherently painful lives) and in the idea that actions produce results (karma.) Upon attaining omniscience they became enlightened, blissfully released from samsara.”
My favorite portion of the exhibit was the last image, which was a screen of six men performing intricate yoga poses, such as arm balances and inversions. Surprisingly, I had witnessed all of the absurdly strong and flexible yogi poses in my own yoga classes, but not to the level of ease and fluidity exerted by the men in the video.
There was also a portion on “Medicine and Science” which I found truly fascinating. It mentioned how today there is global recognition that yoga has quantifiable health benefits. A recent Huffington Post article showed that yoga directly influences gene expression in immune cells in a positive manner. Previous research shows that yoga contributes to lower stress levels, bone health,reduced back pain, relief from depression, and lower risk factors for heart disease. This current study showed that participants who practiced yoga changed the expression of 111 genes while walking only changed the expression in 38 genes, suggesting that yoga may be just as effective if not more so than traditional exercise.
Interested in seeing it for yourself? The exhibit goes until January 26th, 2014 so be sure to check it out and you can learn more about it here.