Usually the word home conjures up an image of four walls, a roof, a door and some windows.
Ask folks who practice yoga to define home though and you get another set of visuals entirely: “…in the garden…at the top of a mountain breathing in fresh air and noticing the day’s beautiful light…where my mind is still.” Everyone has their reasons for practicing yoga and much has been written about its many fitness, mental and health benefits.
Despite the varying motivations and outwardly obvious results, the yoga teacher in me can’t help but observe a common thread among my students and colleagues—that there’s something about the practice that ensues on a yoga mat that transports people to the core of what’s important to them.
And the portrait photographer in me can’t help but want to illustrate that and share this important message with a broader community.
The result is a visual essay of photographs and testimony from ordinary people called “No Place Like Home”. The goal is to capture the true spirit of home and communicate the staying power of yoga.
Some of the insights offered up by the intentionally diverse group, including long-time practitioners of yoga, novices, people who can hold a handstand as well as those who struggle with a side plank; librarians, grandmas, retired executives…and even a surfer: “The best part of my day…I feel as though it was always a part of me, from the time of being a baby…I found something I didn’t even know I was looking for…yoga keeps me wide awake to that energy that is around me at all times.”
They all shed light on how, within the confines of a 6-foot long mat, they find a refuge from what can be a dizzying world.
As one of the subjects remarked, “I love that this project seeks out truth and honesty, rather than perfection.” No professional models…just real people; no ghost writers…just raw testimony…no big lights…just the divine beauty of natural sunlight; and no expensive studio…just the backdrop of brick, the tangible element of home.
Ehipassiko. Come see for yourself.
The evolving project may be viewed at www.noplacelikehomeproject.com. If you have never done yoga before, we hope you will be inspired by the real-life subjects and their salute to the ancient eight-limbed tradition of yoga. If you already practice, perhaps you will see yourself in one of the images or in some of the written testimony and it will prompt you to challenge your own definition of home. Either way, as the Buddha suggested in the Kalamas Sutta, “Use life as a lens, a light and a laboratory.”
Susan Currie recruited and captured with her camera all of the subjects featured in this project. She has been photographing children, families and life in and around Andover, MA for nearly 15 years. Her images have been featured in the Boston Globe, the Lawrence Eagle Tribune, the Andover Townsman, and the Huffington Post. She has authored and self-published two books, “make it last” and “wide awake” which both celebrate the wonder of early childhood. She has been a certified yoga instructor since 2005. With this project, Susan is delighted to find herself on a creative path in which her two vocations intersect naturally. www.susancurriephotographs.com
Mary Ann Alwan is a Boston-based digital artist who developed the warrior cast in which the images in this project are toned. In an effort to keep her focus on the photography and yoga aspects of the project Susan teamed up with Mary Ann for her digital darkroom mastery. An accomplished photographer herself, Mary Ann’s passion for Photoshop rivals Susan’s affection for yoga. As she tells her stories with her camera, she embraces the creative challenges and opportunities presented by the endless developing techniques. In her work apart from this project, Mary Ann focuses on multimedia and photography for non-profits. Additionally, she teaches Digital Photography and Photoshop in the Boston area. And, not for Susan’s lack of trying, Mary Ann has yet to take her first yoga class. She finds her “sukkah”, or joy, in the pool through masters swimming. www.maryannalwan.com
Editor: Bryonie Wise