The 'Yoga: The Art of Transformation' exhibition at the Smithsonian Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. will run from October 19th to January 26th. Its opening was delayed due to the government shutdown, but now things are back on track at the Freer and Sackler Galleries.

"This exhibition looks at yoga's ancient roots, and how people have been trying to master body and spirit for millennia," said Julian Raby, The Dame Jillian Sackler Director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art in the press release. "By applying new scholarship to both rarely seen artworks and recognized masterpieces, we're able to shed light on practices that evolved over time—from yoga’s ancient origins to its more modern emergence in India, which set the stage for today’s global phenomenon."

The exhibition will feature over 130 objects from 25 museums and private collections in India, Europe, and the U.S.

Curator Deb Diamond said, "We’re excited about “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” because it brings together amazing works (created over some two millennium) and new scholarship. Yoga is a household word the world over, but scholars have not holistically explored its visual culture before; visual culture provides new insights so we think exhibition will delight and inform broad audiences."

Though the shutdown forced the temporary closure of the galleries, the exhibition itself does not rely primarily on taxpayer money. "Yoga: The Art of Transformation" was made possible by a month-long crowdfunding campaign, the largest ever conducted by the Smithsonian.

An email about the delay said that the benefit gala would go on in a different location, and organizers wrote that they were all "waiting with bated breath (or should I say deep yogic breathing?)" for the shutdown to be over. Fortunately, they didn't have to wait long.

Preview the amazing images here:

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  • Three Aspects of the Absolute

    Folio 1 from the Nath Charit By Bulaki India, Rajasthan, Jodhpur, 1823 (Samvat 1880) Opaque watercolor, gold, and tin alloy on paper, 47 x 123 cm Mehrangarh Museum Trust, RJS2399 This monumental manuscript folio depicts creation according to the Naths, a sectarian order closely associated with hatha yoga. Creation begins with a formless transcendent Nath (represented by the shimmering gold square on the right) who emanates into increasingly more material yogic beings (center and right).

  • Yogini

    India, Tamil Nadu, Kanchipuram or Kaveripakkam, ca. 900– 975 Metagabbro, 116 x 76 x 43.2 cm Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Gift of Arthur M. Sackler, S1987.905 When properly placated, fierce Yogini goddesses bestowed worldly powers on tantric yogis and royal devotees. This is one of three life-size yoginis, from a temple that was destroyed at an unknown point in the past, tha

  • The Chakras Of The Subtle Body

    folio 4 from the Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati By Bulaki India, Rajasthan, Jodhpur, 1824 (Samvat 1881) Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 122 x 46 cm Mehrangarh Museum Trust, RJS 2376 Chakras are located along the central channel of the body of an adept whose eyes are crossed in inward meditation.

  • Yogini With Mynah

    India, Karnataka, Bijapur, ca. 1603–4 Opaque watercolor and gold on paper; 39.2 x 27.6 cm (folio with borders), 19.3 x 11.6 cm (painting without borders) The Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, 11a.31 For the Indo-Islamic rulers of Bijapur at the turn of the seventeenth century, yoginis were agents of otherworldly powers who could help them win battles. Renowned as one of India’s greatest court paintings, this elegantly elongated yogini is theatrically backlit and surrounded by hugely blooming flowers.

  • Siddha Pratima Yantra

    Western India, dated 1333 (Samvat 1390) Bronze , 21.9 x 13.1 x 8.9 cm Freer Gallery of Art, F1997.33 Yoga transforms body and mind. The negative space cut from a sheet of copper represents an advanced Jain practitioner (siddha) who has achieved disembodied enlightenment.

  • Vishnu Vishvarupa

    India, Rajasthan, Jaipur, ca. 1800–1820 Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 38.5 x 28 cm Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Given by Mrs. Gerald Clark, IS.33-2006 Mortal and divine masters of yoga realize the equivalence of their bodies with the cosmos.

  • Bifolio From The Gulshan Album

    India, Mughal dynasty, first quarter of the 17th century Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 53.5 x 40 cm Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin–Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Orientabteilung, Libri pict. A 117, ff.6b, 13a Dazzling in its jewel-like colors, palpably present yogis and atmospheric landscapes, this opening from the great Gulshan album of the Mughal emperor Jahangir represents Nath, Ramanandi, and Sannyasi yogis as members of an amiable collective.

  • Bifolio from the Gulshan Album

    India, Mughal dynasty, first quarter of the 17th century Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, 53.5 x 40 cm Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin–Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Orientabteilung, Libri pict. A 117, ff.6b, 13a Dazzling in its jewel-like colors, palpably present yogis and atmospheric landscapes, this opening from the great Gulshan album of the Mughal emperor Jahangir represents Nath, Ramanandi, and Sannyasi yogis as members of an amiable collective.

  • Group Of Yogis

    Group of Yogis Colin Murray for Bourne & Shepherd, ca. 1880s Albumen print, 22.2 x 29.2 cm Collection of Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, 2011.02.02.0004 In the 19th century, photographs circulated exoticized images of yogis across the globe. The horizontal body markings on the bald “yogi” seated at right is studio make-up that bears no relationship to any Hindu tradition; the painted jungle backdrop, potted plants, and grass mats are equally props assembled to satisfy a transnational fascination with views of foreign lands and people.

  • Shiva Bhairava

    India, Karnataka, Mysore, 13th century Chloritic schist, 116.6 x 49.23 cm The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 1964.369 For tantric yogis, the Hindu deity Bhairava was both transcendent guru and the god they became through initiation and practice. Like Bhairava, they haunted cremation grounds, which provided the ashes they smeared on their bodies and the skull cups that they carried.

  • T. Krishnamacharya Asanas

    India, Mysore, 1938 Sponsored by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodiyar Digital copy of a lost black-and-white, 57 min. Courtesy of Dan McGuire Film popularized the dynamic potential of yoga as sequential movements. One of the earliest films features T. Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of modern yoga.