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Art and artifacts are the backdrop for the Carnegie Museum of Art’s new weekly yoga classes

“We want visitors to experience the museum in many different ways.”

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Most yoga studios are adorned with om symbols, mandalas and incense. They are positive, peaceful spaces that act as sanctuaries from the outside world. The Carnegie Museum of Art, however, provides a different aesthetic with its new, professionally instructed yoga class on Thursday evenings. Now you can do downward-facing dog (or my favorite, savasana) in a space modeled after the Parthenon, or surrounded by cast façades of France’s St. Gilles-du-Gard church.

The class was organized by Laura Zorch-McDermit, the museum’s manager of social experiences, and local yoga instructor Stefanie Zito, a 500-hour YogaWorks graduate who offers both private lessons and classes at venues including Schoolhouse Yoga and Green Heiress Holistic Health. She also visits workplaces to share her playful, strength-building, all-level yoga magic with employees during work hours. Zito’s teaching style is dynamic, and students are encouraged to take advantage of the multiple options she provides per pose.

The classes at the Carnegie have been held in a variety of spaces, including the Hall of Architecture and Carnegie Music Hall. However, most classes will be held in the Hall of Sculpture, depending on the exhibition schedule.

“We want visitors to experience the museum in many different ways,” says Zorch-McDermit. “Practicing yoga in our spaces allows for participants to connect with their surroundings and think anew about the museum as a place for self-care.”

As if the venue weren’t grand enough, some classes include musical accompaniment by musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony as a part of the symphony’s Music & Wellness program. The program promotes the therapeutic qualities of live music at medical facilities such as Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. A symphony musician will perform during yoga class on the following dates: March 30, April 27 and May 18.

Sessions run from 7-8 p.m. and are open to ages 18 and over. All classes are drop-in. The fee is $8 for museum members, $10 for non-members and $5 for students; no pre-registration is available. A 10-class pass can be purchased at the door for $75, or $50 for members and students. Don’t forget your mat!

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