This weekend as the second part of my personal yoga journey I set out with my friend Dave of J. David Photography to capture some yoga poses in nature. For our first photo shoot together we ventured to the Virginia side of Great Falls Park early(ish) Sunday morning – though probably not as early as Dave would have liked. It should be noted that if you’re attempting any sort of alone time/meditation/peace, it cannot be accomplished in Great Falls after 11:00AM on a weekend. In an attempt to avoid as many people as possible we hiked a couple miles just north of the overlook area, which is much less populated. The foliage on this April weekend was not as green and lush as either of us had hoped, but the weather was spectacular.
The shoot itself proved challenging for me. This was my first attempt at yoga on uneven ground in any formal capacity and I wasn’t nearly as capable as my ego would have liked. It’s also less than peaceful to have a camera in your face while trying to hold a pose – as you can tell by my apparent scowl in most of the pictures. My modeling career obviously would have been short lived. It was a bit frustrating until I became comfortable with my surroundings and reminded myself that yoga isn’t about perfection. Here are a few of my favorite shots and poses from the shoot.
I call this one Tree on a tree. I was literally standing on a fallen tree branch. WHY AM I SO SERIOUS!?
Side Plank – Dave did some pretty cool black-n-white/lightening effect with this one, (that’s the technical term). It’s one of my favorites.
Meditation – Ok, so I’m fake meditating for the photo, but how peaceful do these surroundings look?
Warrior One Overlooking the Falls. I’m channeling The Seven.
Wild Thing — You make my heart sing.
Dancer Facing the Falls — One of my favorite yoga poses.
Tri-pod Headstand Variation – How can you not smile when your crotch is in someone’s face? #TWSS
Side Crow – I love, love, love any pose that challenges arm strength.
Twisting Down Dog — Twisting out the margaritas from Saturday.
Headstand Pike – It’s a really fun pose to practice and great for the abs!
As you can tell from the progression of the photos, once I started to have fun with it I felt more at ease with the process. Still, there were a few positions that I can do on a mat that I had difficultly holding for a camera, such as Hummingbird or any handstand variation really. I do have some pretty gnarly bruises from my multiple attempts though — so that’s something. Hopefully, if we venture out again I will have had time to work on these more challenging poses. And maybe we can find some flat ground to work with!
All in all, I am happy with the results and I had a great time challenging myself. Thanks again to Dave for his patience and awesome photography skills. I can’t wait to see how he does at my Mom’s wedding next month.
Peace, love, and #alltheinversions,
I took my first yoga class roughly 8 years ago. It was at a fitness center so I made the erroneous assumption that it couldn’t be that hard. I mean yoga is all about stretching, right? I had literally just joined the gym and prior to that experience I hadn’t worked out in years. In fact, I had very little desire to do anything active. And as you would expect, it was somewhat of a mess. I went with a male friend of mine and neither one of us had the courage to admit to the instructor that it was our first time. The memory of watching my friend attempt to pretzel himself into eagle pose without losing his balance or crushing his nuts still makes me laugh. I found myself somewhat naturally inclined, but too distracted with the seemingly perfect 120lb female yogis that surrounded me to really focus on my own practice. The instructor seemed almost annoyed with our lack of ability and concentration. I don’t remember ever going back to that class…and for that I’m sure she was grateful.
It was several years later before I made my next attempt at my company gym. This class much more tailored to mixed level students. The majority of the people who walked into that class were like fish out of water. In that atmosphere I was able to listen to corrections and build my talents from beginner to somewhat skilled without feeling judged. The instructor recognized when a pose was easy for some and hard for others and offered modifications. It was also quite convenient that I could do it on my lunch break. I started to enjoy it so much that I even took some side classes at other studios in Arlington to get a feel for different styles. My inner competitive nature started to take over. It was me against the mat. From that point I was hooked.
I took a brief hiatus for personal reasons and started back pretty regularly about six months ago. I stumbled upon an instructor at my new gym who teaches power vinyasa yoga and I love it. Cut to today, I once again find myself obsessed. There is something about pushing my physical limits that gives me both internal and external confidence, not to mention strength. The best measure of my progress is simply by the amount of sweat I produce each class without even realizing it. In my yoga class this week, an obviously physically fit first time yogi admitted how challenging the class had been for her and asked me how long I’d been practicing. She confessed to being a yoga naysayer. That moment made me proud. I remember being that girl! It’s nice to look back and see how far I’ve come. I also love it when someone admits that their pre-conceived notion of yoga was incorrect. Yoga is not easy.
So of course this rededication makes me want to challenge myself even more. In the last six months I’ve conquered side crow, classic headstand, and tripod headstand, to name a few. I don’t remember doing those since grade-school. My goal now is to work on the following poses that I haven’t quite perfected:
- Bird of paradise – can’t straighten my leg yet
- Scorpion – can only do it against a wall
- Headstand lotus – can’t get both legs crossed!
- Firefly – what the what!?
- Humming bird – haven’t even tried yet
- Side crow with legs extended – soooo close
I’ve enlisted a friend to do a photo shoot for me to capture my progress and will share it with you in the next few months. And if you still have any question as to the amount of strength and conditioning it takes to practice yoga, check out the arms on Julie Wilcox demoing Scorpion. I think she gave me a lady-boner.
Disclaimer: I’m not a trained instructor or a personal trainer, I just enjoy yoga. I wouldn’t recommend trying any of this without proper supervision.