Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Yoga Collective

Children participate in a Pittsburgh Yoga Collective class.

By Madeline Smith

Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center in East Deutschtown is a former church that once graced the Northside with stain glass reminders of those who sought religious freedom, but now it stands as a space for contemporary artists to enrich the neighborhood with art, and more recently, it’s become home to a movement sweeping the nation, yoga.

Neu Kirche hosts YogaNova and Pittsburgh Yoga Collective s (PYC) programs structured to engage the community in fitness for the mind, body and soul.

“My mission is to make a gentle, safe, and affordable physical fitness that is available to people with different physical abilities,” Myrna Patterson said.

Patterson, YogaNuvo’s instructor, teaches classes on Monday evenings from 6-7 p.m. at the center.

Patterson taught step aerobics for 15 years at a YMCA and began experiencing difficulty with her joints, which sparked her journey to find a new form of fitness that would be gentler on her body. After her first yoga class in 2002, she walked out with an overwhelming desire to become an instructor.

“I wanted everyone who wanted to to be able to experience the joy, the bliss, and the fun, of what I had discovered,” Patterson said.

Patterson earned her degree two years later, and began teaching classes at the YMCA.

“We landed in a contemporary art space,” Patterson said. “Although I’m not actively making art I look at this space, which has so much beauty in it and think, because art is so connected to our mind, body, and spirit, we can feel at home here.”

YogaNuvo took place in a wide verity of venues before it began in Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center, such as The Children’s Museum and the Allegheny Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

“I would rather instruct my class in Nue Kirche than in a studio,” Patterson stated, “because I believe this space provides freedom and is more affordable to my community.”

Patterson teaches fusion yoga, a style that incorporates vital elements from all yoga practices. She focuses on balance, strength and flexibility. Just like her yoga style, Patterson’s class focuses on working with all ages and personalities, from senior citizens, veterans and marathon runners to children, journalists and weightlifters.

“When you get to yoga, be in yoga,” Patterson said as she described her goal for her class, “this is your time and only you can give this to yourself. Because of that focus and level of concentration, yoga touches the soul and you leave with your spirit is refreshed.”

Neu Kirche also hosts Pittsburgh Yoga Collective, a 10 week Youth Yoga program. Classes are held once a week. PYC provides mats and all the benefits of yoga and mindfulness. Caitlin Lasky, the president of Pittsburgh Yoga Collective, stated that PYC’s intention was to create an opportunity for communities to unite through yoga with no financial barriers. PYC strives to provide an affordable program for children to own a skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

For more information please visit Neu Kirche’s official website.