The big difference between yoga and yogART is a pair of sunglasses.
On Sunday, Chantel Rodriguez and her husband Augusto Herrera distributed more than 15 pairs of orange or yellow-tinged shades to the men, women and children who unrolled their mats over the bright-white floor at Studio One in Artegon Marketplace.
Attendees wore the glasses as they reached their fingers toward the exposed pipes of the industrial ceiling, bent forward to kiss their knees and lowered into a chaturanga pose. For about an hour, everything they saw was perceived through an orange lens.
Rodriguez and Herrera, both Orlando artists, say that by folding color-therapy into the otherwise traditional yoga classes, they offer a uniquely restorative experience.
“Ultimately, also, we want to open a healing center,” said Herrera. “So we thought, ‘How can we do something with our love for color, understanding the way color has an impact on the mind and the body, and also our love for yoga?'”
The idea is that people hungry to shift their energy can do so by looking at the world filtered through one of seven colors, they say.
Each hue corresponds to a different “chakra,” or “energy center,” said Jessica Rovira, who teaches the class each month.
For instance, the “root” or red chakra sparks stamina, stability and passion, whereas the “third eye” or indigo chakra promotes responsibility, some believe.
“It’s just interesting how the body can pick up these energies and just shift and vibrate on different levels because of our energetic making and interacting with other energies,” Rovira said.
On Sunday, they focused on the “sacral” or orange chakra, which kindles such feelings as optimism and pleasure.
“[It will] help you see a lesson instead of a problem in a situation,” said Rodriguez as she explained the chakra before class started. Herrera, wearing bright orange socks, added that it promotes creativity.
Rovira then took over, her legs crossed as she sat on a green mat in the center of the room. The others formed a horseshoe with their mats around her. The room smelled like burning incense sticks, and Himalayan salt lamps glowed on the floor.
“Look at yourself as an instrument of movement,” Rovira said.
She guided the group through poses meant to engage the sacral chakra. Later, as they began to relax, she told everyone to “visualize the color orange.”
The experience was extremely moving for some.
“I feel amazing,” said Andrea Smith, a first-time student, afterward. “I felt at the end almost like, ‘I have to take these glasses off’… I just felt like it was very powerful and almost as if there was something, an energy, that was being cultivated while wearing the glasses. Once I finished the yoga, I said, ‘OK, I feel like I’m full, like I’m tapped out.'”
Smith, a senior associate at World Financial Group, said she first heard about the class during the Earth Day festival at Lake Eola. She hopes to incorporate color-therapy into a workshop of her own eventually.
“It’s my favorite Sunday of the month,” said Wendy Bozarth, co-owner of Studio One. “I’ve been doing yoga since I was in college…It centers me, it helps with creativity. It helps relieve stress.”
She said she was approached by Artegon Marketplace staff about hosting a monthly yoga class in her studio and was eager to do so.
The stark-white walls of the photography and production space curve seamlessly into the white floors. With the overhead lights on, the only splashes of color in the room are the yoga mats, and the table Herrera and Rodriguez set up with the sunglasses and charts in the back.
“So it’s really a blank canvas,” Bozarth said. “So when you put the colored glasses on it just washes the whole place in that color and it’s really amazing. It works perfectly for color therapy, it just goes hand in hand.”
Herrera and Rodriguez said they recommend putting on the sunglasses outside of the studio, too.
“We use the line ‘choose your mood,'” said Herrera. “Because we understand that every day we have choices in life so we can choose to either be down or we can choose to be happy, be uplifting for other people.”