For Lee Schrager, it’s all in the name.
Had Schrager, and his partners behind the new Art Basel Miami event, YogArt, not thought up that catchy name for one of the more unusual events during the arts fair, it simply wouldn’t exist.
YogArt, a series of hour-long sunrise and sunset yoga classes, aims to offer a health-oriented, multisensory experience for the Basel bunch by merging the practice of yoga with musical performances by world music acts Trevor Hall and The Mayapuris. The setting: the lawn of the Loews in South Beach amid sculpture by artists Westen Charles, Gean Moreno and Gavin Perry.
The idea behind YogArt, says co-creator and yoga instructor Dawn B. Feinberg, is to de-stress Art Basel patrons without removing them from the heady Basel environment.
“It’s a chance for people to kick off their stilettos and get on a yoga mat, a chance to rejuvenate and restore,” Feinberg says. “It blows my mind that people come in from so many places in the most beautiful time of Miami and they are in the galleries most of the time. This is an opportunity to stay within the buzz of Basel but it’s Miami at its best.”
Feinberg, 37, who also teaches yoga at Miami Life Center on the Beach, plans to conduct her classes using a blend of the breath-based Ashtanga and the movement or Asana-based Jivamukti yoga. After the sessions, healthy snacks like kefir and yogurt will be available.
“The practice is a Vinyassa flow, gets you moving and is upbeat, which lends itself to the beginner yogi and advanced yogi,” she says.
In other words, any one should be able to do these classes. The eight YogArt sessions will also be led by fellow instructors Kelly Green, Kino MacGregor, Paul Toliuszis and Loren Russo whose celeb clients have included Russell Simmons, Owen Wilson and Naomi Campbell.
Schrager says he will go public with his love of yoga in front of his art and foodie friends.
“I will never be in Men’s Fitness,” says Schrager, the guru behind Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. “I’ve never done a public yoga class and I’ve never done one with anybody but I promised I will be participating.”
Schrager, 52, started taking personal yoga classes two years ago when his friend, philanthropist Arlene Chaplin, gave him 10 private sessions as a gift.
“I said, ‘I’ll never do it, take it back.’ ”
Chaplin refused, using the old, “Try it, you’ll like it” strategy.
“I did one class and fell in love with it. Surprisingly, this is one of the few athletic things I can do. I’m incredibly limber so I found it was something I could do easily and feel comfortable doing. What I love most about yoga is I’m just focused on me. The phone is off, all the attention is on me,” Schrager says.
Schrager and Chaplin share the same yoga instructor, Feinberg, and the trio began discussing the coming Art Basel, one of South Florida’s signature events in December. The three formed a partnership, DARLEE, to present YogArt.
The idea and name proved just too enticing.
“Wouldn’t it be great, all these people coming to town who love art and yoga? It’s an alternative to the hustle and bustle and madness of Basel,” Schrager says. “This is something they can start and end their day with, something relaxing and all the yoga studios were supporting it.”
While singer-songwriter Trevor Hall and tribal act The Mayapuris will perform during the sessions, Feinberg says the music will not distract from the health benefits of yoga but rather enhance the experience.
“Music is one of the tenets of the yoga I teach,” she says. “When you link music with Asana practice — the physical practice — it’s a quicker way to reach a state of happiness, it sets a beautiful atmosphere.”
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