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VIDEO//YOGA: An Integrated Practice at the Henry

February 7, 2014
Julia Greenway's Video//Yoga at the Henry Art Gallery

Julia Greenway’s Video//Yoga at the Henry Art Gallery

The holiday season is (unfortunately) over and Seattle’s crispy cold winter days just makes you want to crawl under your blanket. Getting a weekly dose of exercise and self-exploration can be challenging at this time of year. Video//Yoga at the Henry Art Gallery is a great (and FREE!) opportunity to get back on track–and experience art at the same time.

Julia Greenway - instructor of Video//Yoga  [Photo by Valeria Koulikova]

Julia Greenway – instructor of Video//Yoga [Photo by Valeria Koulikova]

Video//Yoga is an immersive experience in which the physical practice of yoga is incorporated with video art, allowing for a deeper and more meaningful exploration of your bodily senses. The practice is taught by young and energetic Julia Greenway of the Interstitial Theater, who is both a yoga teacher and an artist. Julia came up with the idea when she was working on her training practice for a four-week yoga series when she was studying to be a yoga teacher. Passionate about yoga and video art, she went after the idea she thought had little chance of coming to life.

“Video//Yoga is a combination of my two loves,” she said. “I started collecting video work and contacting artists I’ve worked with before, doing some research on Vimeo, and putting together these reels I thought would be conducive to yoga. To see this idea evolve over time is pretty amazing.”

Julia took the idea to the Henry, Fred Wildlife Refuge, and others and found that people were very receptive to it. Video//Yoga started at the Henry with three classes last July as a part of a Down Time eight-week program. Julia was asked to come back in October for a long-term program, offering unique yoga classes on the third Thursday of every month.

Having a curiosity about video art and practicing yoga myself, I knew I had to try it out. It’s taught from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Henry Auditorium. It didn’t quite strike me as a place for a yoga practice, but the surroundings were of little importance once I dived into the experience.

Video//Yoga practice at the Henry Art Gallery [Photo by Valeria Koulikova]

Video//Yoga practice at the Henry Art Gallery [Photo by Valeria Koulikova]

Julia started off with some breathing exercises, building momentum over the hour of practice. The video was directly connected with the sequence. The movement of swaying tree tops under the moving cloak of fog on the projection overlapped with our own oxygen intake. As we went from seated to standing, grounding poses involving more movements, the video took us into a deep emerald forest. With green calming colors enveloping the scene, it felt as if I was there among the tree trunks breathing in fresh pine air.

One of the great things about the practice is that you are free to cater the experience to your own liking.

“I want to make it more accessible and playful so that participants don’t have the pressure of being in an advanced yoga experience,” Julia said. “It’s an opportunity for you to just watch the video if you find it captivating or just do the yoga part. Make the best of it.”

Even though the sequence was at a beginner’s level, after an hour of Video//Yoga my muscles definitely felt the burn! I left feeling energized, relaxed, and ready to continue the day on a positive note.

The practice sequence and the video art are different every time and are built around the time of the year and lifestyles during each season. For example, during the holiday season people are not as active, Julia thinks, so hip opening exercise help with getting rid of the tension in those areas. Julia has put together video reels that are sometimes upbeat and colorful, and sometimes slow and relaxing. Every class is a unique and powerful experience.

There is no integrated video/yoga experience offered anywhere else and UW students get to try it for free at the Henry. The only downside it is that it’s only offered once a month.

Video//Yoga sessions for the remainder of the school year are on February 20, March 20, April 17,  and May 15. I highly suggest you attend at least one of them. All you need is comfy clothes, a yoga mat (though extra mats are available), and an open-mind.

Video//Yoga at the Henry Art Gallery [Photo by Valeria Koulikova]

Video//Yoga at the Henry Art Gallery [Photo by Valeria Koulikova]


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