80 S Irvine Ave, Sharon, PA 16146 (724) 346-4746
What is Walnut Lodge Yoga?
Walnut Lodge Yoga is its own animal. Its evolution began with my 1981 Undergraduate
thesis the “Art and Science of the Human Body.” As a young student, Yoga was not my
focus, Dance was. I was an artist, a Dance artist, and I wanted the freedom of expression
that control brings. But in the midst of that pursuit, as a result of that pursuit, something
unexpected and surprising happened, and continues to happen. That something is
Walnut Lodge Yoga.
Over the next 35 years, I worked with thousands of people of all ages and abilities,
teaching movement and using Yoga as a training method. During that time, Yoga
became a creative path for me, leading to new ideas and an expanded understanding of
the humans I was working with. With Yoga, I explored the deep connections within my
own body and mind, and I found that understanding these connections greatly helped me
communicate artistic and physical ideas with other dancers. And in the end, isn't this
what Art is suppose to do? Create connections and understanding? Lead to a larger
definition of humanity?
What I ultimately discovered was that Yoga IS the “Art and Science” of the human body,
and Walnut Lodge Yoga teaches just that. It gives you a method. The basics. It gives you
hard and fast guidelines so you can evaluate what is good for your own body, now and as
it changes. It gives you information about how your structures alines with gravity, how
your joints function most efficiently, how to breathe correctly and why that's important. It
illuminates the experience of moving with awareness, of feeling and using energy. It
shows you how to increase strength and flexibility, safely. It's based on the idea that you
are responsible for your own health, your own life, that your thoughts have the power to
shape your own existence; the expression of which....a beautiful life, is your ultimate
artistic achievement. D. Abbey Alter-founder. 10 April 2016
The Walnut Lodge Story
In 1995, Abbey founded The Walnut Street Lodge in the Oddfellows building on Walnut Street in Sharpsville, PA. It was an Arts, Health & Community Center created with her sister Denise Alter and Rob Killmer. The Lodge offered dance training, yoga instruction, massage therapy, nutrition counseling, cooking classes and a vegetarian restaurant as well.
It was here that Abbey formed her own dance/theatre company, The Walnut Lodge Players, and presented a great variety of performances for the community. In 2003, The Walnut Lodge moved to its present location on South Irvine Avenue, Sharon, PA in the Christian Scientist building.
We continue to offer world class Movement and Yoga instruction, but that is not our only concern. We have always been about the promotion and presentation of all art forms; firmly believing that they are a necessary part of the human experience.
This collective and growing group of people have worked together for many years promoting an idea about what is necessary for a fulfilling life: health, inspiration, harmony, beauty and community.
I never seemed confused about what I was or what I wanted to do until college. At Penn State University
I was told to choose, I could not be both a scientist and an artist. The absurdity of this statement baffled me coming, as it was, out of the mouths of the so called educated elite. I disagreed out of necessity, being living proof of that which I told I could not be. The absurdity here, I was convinced, was the narrow view of this particular policy so I began to find a way to do what I needed to do.
My search led me to PS's Bachelor of Philosophy degree, a design your own degree program. "The Art and Science of the Human Body" was my degree title. Essentially I was a premed major that danced and painted. My thesis paper was a study of the physical developments manifested by certain personality traits exhibited by the major dance choreographers of the time.
My first professional job was as a choreographer for the Ballet Theater Of The Virgin Islands. And with this job, I added Ethnic Studies to my list of subjects that I dealt with. I received an MFA from Arizona State University in 1984 in Choreography and Performance and then returned to the Virgin Islands to continue my work there until 1990.
When I returned to The States, I began dancing and choreographing for Ballet Theater Ohio in Warren Ohio. In 1995, my sister and I opened a community health and art center named The Walnut St. Lodge which housed a vegetarian cafe and a health food store, as well as, offering yoga, dance and art classes.
My company was based at Shenango Valley Ballet Theatre, which is in Sharpsville, PA, and from that base in a defunct steel town I'm adding another subject to my list... relevance of the arts to those who have not yet discovered it.