Exhibitions, Yoga

Alice Christensen and the Beginnings of Yoga in Cleveland

Submitted by Louis Adrean on

Yoga: The Art of Transformation, hailed as the world’s first exhibition about yoga’s visual history, is on view through September 7th.    In conjunction with the exhibition, Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art, has partnered with Cleveland-area organizations to enhance the visitor experience.   Among them is the Atma Center in Cleveland Heights, which has links to the first yoga establishment in this region and is one of Greater Cleveland’s premier yoga and holistic health centers. 

One of yoga’s leading proponents in the West was Alice Christensen, who founded the Easy Does It Yoga program in Cleveland in 1964.  Christensen had just returned from seclusion in the Himalayas when she began teaching in Cleveland.  She was initially surprised that most of the students enrolled in her classes were over 60 years old!  As she watched the transformations taking place among her once-stiff students, Christensen realized the importance of yoga in maintaining both physical and spiritual well-being. 

As the popularity of yoga intensified, Christensen published several books on the topic including The Light of Yoga Society Beginner’s Manual and Easy Does it Yoga for Older People. The Atma Center has shared with us a sampling of publications documenting the history of yoga from their reference collection.  Some of them were published by Cleveland’s own Light of Yoga Society Center, others by famous yoga practitioners such as Swami Satyananda Saraswati.

The ever-growing popularity of yoga complements the enduring beauty and elegance of the works of art included in the exhibition.