Nirvana at the MoMa
THE CHICONOMIST - Celine Novenario () - March 8, 2009 - 12:00am

NEW YORK — People come here in search of many things, like fame, fortune, love, passion, or a new lease on life.

If there’s one thing people do not come here for, it’s inner peace.

This, after all, is the city that doesn’t sleep, whose inhabitants are in constant state of motion, competition, aggression and agitation.

Imagine my surprise then, when one early morning at the Museum of Modern Art, I was blessed with the unexpected gift of inner peace.

To mark the last days of video artist Pipilotti Rist’s installation Pour Your Body Out (7354 cubic meters), the MoMa opened its doors to yogis and yoginis of all ages and levels for an extraordinary yoga session dubbed Yoga at the MoMa.

As over a hundred people did their downward dogs and warrior poses in unison, color-soaked images flashed over the walls of the atrium, enveloping participants in a rhapsody in Technicolor.

Pipilotti Rist is a Swiss artist known for creating exuberant and provocative videoscapes that feature elements of nature and the female form.

For Pour Your Body Out, the wraparound video wall alternately displayed beautiful pink tulips, strawberries bobbing in water in psychedelic colors, earthworms squirming in squishy soil, a woman sniffing petals, and a wild boar ravenously eating an apple.

The colors and images were so vivid, it felt as though the hues were permeating me, and I could practically feel the texture of every tulip, apple, and blade of grass on the film.

Leading the class was Elena Brower, founder of Virayoga and a certified teacher of Anusara Yoga.

Brower took a nurturing, yet playful approach to the class.

With her soothing voice, she eased students into a state of complete calm and encouraged us to fully absorb the spectacle we were enfolded in. Teaching assistants wandered the floors, correcting poses and ensuring that the multitude of yoga practicioners benefitted as much as possible from the class.

The mix of participants was incredibly diverse. There were serious yogis warming up with headstands, but there was also a guy so clueless about yoga that he didn’t bring a mat.

A young couple prodded their adorable daughter, who couldn’t have been more than five years old, as she attempted the asanas.

Then there was I, who initially wanted to smack myself for signing up for a 9 a.m. yoga class knowing full well I’d be out the Saturday night before.

But in the end I was glad I had dragged myself to experience an hour of peace in this city of constant disquiet.

I left feeling an incredible sense of peace within and nothing could snap me out of it for hours—not the drilling of a jackhammer or the persistent cacophony of city traffic.

Yoga at the MoMa had cost me nothing, yet it gave me a gift that was absolutely priceless.

ANUSARA YOGA BROWER ELENA BROWER FOR POUR YOUR BODY OUT MUSEUM OF MODERN ART PIPILOTTI RIST POUR YOUR BODY OUT VIRAYOGA YOGA
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