I started attending yoga classes just this past spring.
On the heels of a troubling breakup I found yoga to be one of the only ways I could shut my mind off and be present in the moment.
My body. Myself. Breathe. Stretch. Heal.
After a time, the haze that my life had become started to fall away and I began catching flashes of beauty in those around me—practice-hardened-shapes and silhouettes that testified to years of mindful dedication.
As a photographer and artist these images began to haunt me until I finally asked to bring my camera in and shoot. Initially, I took pictures from the conventional side view, but while this produced many beautiful images I didn’t feel like they captured what I was experiencing when practicing.
Triangle as presented from the head on view.
When practicing, my head is more often turned inward, eyes directed at my stretching frame, than it is outward at others.
Yoga is personal and introspective.
I began trying to shoot images as I had been intuiting them in practice, above, below, at angles, in silhouette; and soon found sculptures of the human form emerging in my lens. “This is what spine twisting feels like,” I thought.
Spine Twisting from above.
Some poses, like standing head to knee, presented their perspectives to the camera relatively easy. In this pose the journey one takes with the self ultimately arrives so carefully with head to knee, elbows bent about a straight leg, that it presents beautifully from underneath.
Standing Head to Knee from below.
Meanwhile, other perspectives were unexpected only to appear through the lens in-situ causing me to shout a hasty “hold that” to the practicing yogi. Consider the floating sensation one experiences during separate leg stretching—as you look at yourself in the mirror while bending down, arms stretched outward.
The “moment of floating” during Separate Leg Stretching as seen from below.
Needless to say, I found that my “one day shoot” had expanded into a rented studio space with specialty scaffolding and a sheet of incredibly thick glass.
Supported by a long list of friends and incredible models I’m continuing to work on this project today. I’ve named the emerging photo series “aikya” (Sanskrit for union with the divine), in recognition of the fact that beyond the intrinsic beauty of asana yoga there is the individual pursuit of something sacred; and what I’ve been reminded of while looking through my lens is that tenfold more beautiful than the human form is our passion.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Laura Ashworth