What I’ve learned from photographing yoga // Annapolis yoga photographer

What I’ve learned from photographing yoga // Annapolis yoga photographer

Courage. It takes courage to try something new, to do something outside the circle of comfort, even just to get started.

Over the holiday break, I sat in my hammock chair and made goals for the new year. To find a community. To find new things to photograph. To use the quiet winter time to stretch (literally and figuratively). To do things that nourish my soul. One of those things was to find a way to photograph some of my other passions…like yoga.

So when it came up in conversation – a suggestion that I want to believe happened by willing it to be so, an answer to how fervently I wished for the right opening, but more likely was caught because I had my eyes peeled for the opportunity – that the yoga studio I take classes at could use new photos for social media, it felt like serendipity.

And how much this chance has changed me. There is no more peaceful place in the world than a yoga studio – and this one, the teachers have an inner joy, a lightness that is welcoming and warm. It is delightful to be there.

When much of my day-to-day involves perfect styling and curated loveliness, of which I don’t easily tire, photographing yoga is a breath of fresh air. The early sunsets of the winter days limits the natural light in the studio; soft candlelight flickers on the windowsills and a fire glows from the front of the room, warming the space in both temperature and tone. There is nothing about the available light or pose or movement or silence that lives within the power of my own suggestion or control. And I love it. It is a passive way of photographing that requires patience to wait for that elusive decisive moment. When the click of the camera is deafening in the midst of a silent meditation, there is nothing to do but make each and every press of the shutter count.

Although there may be grain (oh the grain – for this I have pushed the limits of my tools), or other technical things I would try to avoid, this where I’m learning to simply accept what is. I watch…there is so much watching…waiting for a lovely expression not on a face but in a body. Moments where the human form is most supple, most strong, most open, most full of breath and life and movement and stillness. These are the moments that remind me that emotion and connection are so much more enticing than technical perfection.

There is a teacher, whose class I love, who often says it’s called yoga practice…not yoga performance. The importance lies in showing up, being present, making space by letting go. It is the act of doing this that matters, and this is the gift I find in making these photos. Some days, creating things brings on a sense of performance anxiety – a feeling I know all too well from my singing days – but taking yoga photos is now the most essential part of my practice, of letting go of the need for perfection and embracing the beauty in patience, in movement and stillness, and in quiet vitality.

I’m so grateful to Ruah Yoga for the chance to make these photos and for being such an inviting and joyful place.


Ruah yoga Annapolis yoga photographer Anna Reynal

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  • Michele Kirchmann February 3, 2017 at 1:04 am

    Wow! This just inspired me so much. I quit taking yoga about a year ago because I hurt myself. When I did try to go back my ego was hurt because I was no longer good. But this reminded me it’s not about the poses, it’s about the feeling you get from it. From the breathe, from the positivity. Thank you for bringing this to me. Namaste

    • Anna Author February 4, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      aw! so glad it resonated with you. yoga is a humbling practice, even without an injury. even if it feels different now, you still have all of the things inside of you that helped you enjoy it before (this is a wonderful podcast that taught me that: http://jesslively.com/whatyouhave/). i hope you find your way back and it brings you lots of good things :o).

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