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How a teacher bridges this gap - Annenberg Media

When students attend a yoga class, they may expect to go to a quiet studio with a calm atmosphere. The mats may have already been laid on the floor, or meditative music is being played in the background.

But the students encountered something very different when they practiced yoga at the University of Southern California’s Fisher Museum of Art. Instead, this group separated them in the middle of an art gallery featuring works created by mental health advocate and surrealist artist Louise Bourgeois.

Bourgeois was a French-American artist, best known for her monumental sculptures and works that draw inspiration from her constant struggle with trauma and anxiety since her childhood. The exhibition displays 119 prints, textiles, and a series of eight holograms based on the “rough emotional terrain” of bourgeois artistic practice.

On Thursday, USC students and staff held their class inside its exhibit titled “What Is This Problem Like?” This free yoga class is taught by instructor Siwen Xi, who is pursuing a PhD in music teaching and learning at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.

Xi had to adapt her typical yoga practices to better fit the new environment of the art gallery.

“I used the words on the wall for inspiration and encouragement. It is important for me to mingle with the environment,” she said. The art, some of which included written series of affirmations like “yes” and “rejuvenation,” she said, also gave her inspiration about the power of space and the amount of energy that you must make throughout the session.

“I think it was great to practice yoga in such a wonderful space, especially with the exhibition going on,” said Skylar Hansen Rag, a pioneer in emerging art history. “It’s a nice gallery and [students] He should definitely come to check it out.”

Tanya Agarwal, a sophomore in business administration, said she has practiced yoga for most of her life, but this alternative environment added to the experience.

“Being in the museum made this experience really surreal because when we had to take different poses, we could read the script,” Aggarwal said. “I used to go to the gym a lot and this is so intense. This place is so relaxing and easy on the eyes.”

Xi is a certified yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance in Dharma yoga, yin yoga, pregnant yoga, and children’s yoga. She said that she started her yoga and meditation journey in 2010 when she was in high school, and suffers from anxiety due to exams and exams.

Hansen-Rag said she also struggles with anxiety and has benefited from practicing yoga regularly.

“I feel like it helps reduce my stress and anxiety a lot,” she said. “Being a USC student is pretty crazy and there is so much to do all the time, so [I] I definitely feel a lot calmer and after a yoga session.”

Shi explained that her favorite moment at the end of a yoga session was when the students felt rewarded and comfortable in the last resting position after challenging themselves in a half-frog pose, in which yogis pull their feet to the back of their knees.

“The energy from a very strenuous and stressful task to get back to their way of sleeping at night… was a good response to what I learned that day,” Shi said.

The Fisher Museum regularly hosts yoga classes in its exhibits, and USC students have another chance to practice at the Bourgeois exhibit with Shea on October 27.