Guests at Immersive Van Gogh in Old Town can now experience some additional peace with morning yoga classes, surrounded by the great artist’s works.
They’ll be navigating their way through finding their balance and managing their breathing while surrounded by works like “The Starry Night,” “Self Portrait” and “Sunflowers.”
“I think it’s truly a unique yoga experience,” said Brittany Haag, the venue operations assistant manager for Lighthouse Artspace, which is hosting Immersive Van Gogh.
“A lot of yogis have their practices and their flows and it’s a unique experience to be so immersed.”
What: Gogh With Lifeway Kefir
Immersive Yoga Classes
When: Fridays and Saturdays at 9:15 a.m. and Sundays at 8:15 a.m.
Where: Immersive Van Gogh PHX, 4301 N. Scottsdale Road
Cost: $54.99 per person/per class
*Masks are required for all guests and guests are required to provide their mats.
The gallery offers a unique challenge for guests as the floors as well as the screens change in the exhibit and a soundtrack curated by composer Luca Longobardi plays in the background of the instructor’s instruction.
“I think that art strongly complements yoga because yoga is about finding your focus and finding your breath,” said Charley Hernandez, a yoga instructor who will be teaching the session. “It’s a challenge to focus when everything around you are constantly changing.”
Hernandez also teaches yoga for Mountainside Fitness, but when she was presented the opportunity to teach it at one of Scottsdale’s top attractions, it was an easy yes.
“I’m really lucky to be teaching yoga for Mountainside Fitness and I got an email asking if I would be interested in teaching at Immersive Van Gogh,” she said. “I hadn’t been to the exhibit before teaching and when I realized that I would be able to go to it for free for eight weeks, it was a no-brainer.”
Excited by the unique opportunity, Hernandez had to find a way to create a routine that allowed audiences to gain a full experience of the gallery and a good stretch.
“I’ll keep it in a progressive flow that way people get to experience the art,” she said. “I understood that it was going to be a 35-minute class and I was told the music was provided but other than that I had to improvise in a way. The music did give me ques as well.”
Another challenge for Hernandez was creating a workout for people of all skill levels.
She does so by reminding people that it is OK if they cannot do a certain maneuver and that there are other ways to get the same stretch.
“I try to remind people that this is an all-levels class so that if they want to do something a bit fancier or if they want to step it back some, they’re more than welcome to,” Hernandez said. “I try to emphasize that yoga is all about your personal experience.”
It was important early on for Immersive Van Gogh to create an experience that was not too challenging for yogis but was also fun for those who had done little or no yoga experience.
“It was really important to us to make sure that this was accessible to all levels,” said Haag. “Yoga can be intimidating to some if it’s their first few rounds. We want everyone to feel welcome.”
It also helps that the classes have a low capacity.
“There are lower numbers and more one-on-one with the instructor for your yoga experience,” said Haag.
It also helps that guest have a large room to create a good space among themselves.
“It’s nice to have this giant space and I feel like every corner will give you a dissimilar experience of the show,” said Hernandez.
There are lots of unique highlights throughout the 35-minute class and Hernandez made sure to add twists and turns to poses so that guests could catch a good look at the exhibit.
“The coolest part is being able to get different perspectives through the art,” she said. “We will be in a pose, and I will add a twist so that people can see the shifts in the art and as the walls are shifting around you, you’ll feel your body making those tiny shifts.”
Admittedly, the movement of the walls and the floor add an element of challenge to the exercises.
“I was talking to a few people who had taken the class and they said it was hard to balance because it feels like the floor is moving from underneath you,” Hernandez said with a laugh. “It adds an extra challenge as well as a different appeal and aspect.”
Though there are elements of challenge, the experience challenges the conventional way of practicing yoga and gives guests a unique way to experience the works of Vincent Van Gogh.
“I hope that people take away that every experience is a little different and it doesn’t have to look like a traditional yoga setting to practice,” said Hernandez. “Maybe stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new is fun.”
Haag also hopes to see guests start their mornings off with yoga at Immersive Van Gogh and then make a day out of the other things to do in Old Town.
“I hope it’s one of those unique experiences that you tell your friends about or plan a day off with,” she said. “We hope that people will go to one of the restaurants in Old Town and have a meal afterward.”