Student pulls together art, yoga for tranquility
By Kat Worrall
Among paintings, photographs and the occasional sculpture, Austin sophomore Sheridan Aspy leads students through sun salutations and downward dogs every Tuesday morning as part of “Yoga in the Gallery.”
The hour-long 8:30 a.m. yoga class takes place in the Martin Museum of Art and is part of Bearobics’ Group X program, in which Aspy is a yoga instructor.
Aspy, who has been practicing yoga for seven years and is in her second year of teaching, sat down with the Lariat to discuss the program, using a gallery as a studio and the various benefits of yoga.
Q: How did you get started practicing yoga?
A: I have a lot of back pain. I also have asthma and a little bit of anxiety and nerves, so with all of that combined, yoga was one of the more natural solutions.
That is why I started it a few years ago, and then I stuck with it because I’ve noticed it is helping with everything.
Q: Why did you decide to teach yoga?
A: I do yoga every day. I figured if I could teach it and get paid, it would be the best job to have.
I love it, so I like to teach everyone else the same thing.
Q: What is the most difficult part for you about being an instructor?
A: Sometimes I do have a hard time figuring out what students are needing.
I try to start each class asking what they want to do, and some people will suggest it and others won’t.
Q: What is your favorite part about teaching?
A: I like having an excuse to have to work out every day. There is no backing out of it for me.
I also like challenging myself and then trying to teach others how to do the new poses.
I like to see other people accomplish it because a lot of people think they can’t do a pose, but they end up being able to do it within a week or two.
It is nice to see the success that people have when they come to my classes and that they are benefiting from it.
Q: Who came up with the idea to combine yoga with art?
A: I believe it was Jennifer Spry, Martin Museum of Art’s educational coordinator.
The museum doesn’t open until 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, so they wanted to do something and they decided on yoga.
She contacted my boss to see if one of us would teach and it ended up all working out.
Q: What is it like doing yoga in the gallery compared to a studio?
A: In the Bearobics studio, you can always hear people playing basketball and any outside distractions. It’s not as peaceful – there are mirrors and windows that aren’t as pretty.
So it’s nice with more of a peaceful atmosphere surrounded by art, and it’s quiet there.
Q: How does your class respond to practicing yoga in the gallery?
A: They really enjoy it. I can tell they like it because it is on campus and it isn’t distracting as the Bearobics studio can be sometimes.
It is a smaller atmosphere and easier to get in tune with yourself rather than thinking of other things.
Q: What level are most of your students?
A: They are all beginner to immediate. That’s how I base my class – I do it beginner to immediate with each pose or exercise having a modification and something to make it a little more challenging.
Q: How is it working with the Martin Museum of Art?
A: I have gotten to know the staff there. Most of them take the class because they are the ones who really wanted to do it in the first place and they have enjoyed it.
Q: What benefits do you think yoga gives?
A: It helps with relieving stress and anxiety. As a college student, I believe we all have a little stress and anxiety, so relaxation is probably the biggest health benefit in my opinion.
Also, personal well-being – being physically fit. We do a lot of total body strengthening. Most of the people who come to my class have neck pain, back pain – some kind of pain that other workouts might make worse.
There are so many health benefits. For example, it helps my asthma. We do a lot of breathing techniques and that helps train your lungs and help with breathing.
Q: What would you say to a student to encourage them to try yoga?
A: I haven’t talked to anyone who hasn’t felt stressed out in college. Yoga is a good way to work out without hurting your body. It is just gentle on your body and is good for everybody to try. You would be surprised on how enjoyable it is.
Group X costs $50 a semester for unlimited yoga, Pilates, boot camp and other fitness classes. The first class for students is free, as is the week of finals.
For more information on Yoga in the Gallery and the Bearobics program, visit baylor.edu/campusrec/fitness.