The NOLA Yoga Photography Project is a success!

 Vasisthasana in City Park, New Orleans

Vasisthasana in City Park, New Orleans

Gratitude!

This post is for you, my friends, family, teachers, and community. Today I paid for my Jivamukti yoga teacher training thanks to the generous donations and support I have received from you!

About a week ago today it looked like I was not going to make it. I had put all of my faith and hope in the universe providing for me, but as the rush of Mardi Gras wore off I saw that I was still quite far from having the money that I needed to pay for the training. I had my moment of doubt.

I posted an event on facebook asking for donations, and many of you came through with small and large donations. My mother, who follows me on the site, gave the biggest of all. I was not going to ask my parents for anything, they have helped me so much in my life. But there it was. Thanks mom!

The biggest relief came today as I called the Omega Institute to make a payment and was surprised that the total amount due was much less than I had expected. It turns out that the Jivamukti scholarship I was awarded by Jivamukti founders Sharon Gannon and David Life was almost four times what I thought it was! I am so grateful to them for extending this opportunity to me, and am making a vow to pass their compassion and spiritual wisdom on to everyone I can as I walk this path.

Photographing the Yogis of New Orleans

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the NOLA Yoga Photography Project, donating money to my teacher training fund in exchange for photographs. To show my gratitude I am posting my favorite photos from the yoga photography sessions I have done so far (hard to narrow down, but am posting one of each), for y'all to enjoy. Blessings to you!

AcroYoga at the Fly in Audubon Park
AcroYoga at the Fly in Audubon Park

This was not a commissioned photo shoot, but this was the first one that was exclusively yoga and going to be included in the portfolio. This is AcroYoga, a combination of acrobatics and yoga. Aaron Lind is 'basing' Libby Bryan, who is 'flying'. Aaron and Libby are both teachers at Swan River Yoga and also dear friends to me. The shoot took place in Audubon Park.

 Mary Kuzmovich in Hanumanasana / Split Pose

Mary Kuzmovich in Hanumanasana / Split Pose

This is my friend Mary Kuzmovich, one of the first people to take me up on the offer. We went to a building in the French Quarter and took some shots up on the roof, as well as this one on the fire escape. I love the stockings! 

Dana Shamas doing Urdhva Dhanurasana in City Park, New Orleans. Dana teaches Jivamukti in Houston, TX
Dana Shamas doing Urdhva Dhanurasana in City Park, New Orleans. Dana teaches Jivamukti in Houston, TX

Dana Shamas teaches Jivamukti in Houston, TX. She contacted me after Swan River sent an email to their mailing list out about my project. We went to City Park and had a nice time trying out some different settings and poses.  love the way the curve of her body mirrors the trees behind her. 

Aaron Lind doing Adho Mukha Vrksasana, or handstand
Aaron Lind doing Adho Mukha Vrksasana, or handstand

This is Aaron Lind doing Adho Mukha Vrksasana, or handstand, at the Swan River Marigny studio. This picture was taken for more utilitarian purpose than artistic, and I hope to do some more artistic ones with Aaron soon. He needed a picture of himself doing a handstand for his AcroYoga teacher training application and this is the one he submitted. You can see by the electric conduit going up the wall behind him how perfectly vertical he is! Aaron has been a great friend and inspiration to me. He plays in a kirtan band and teaches AcroYoga and Swan River yoga with an Anusara influence. The yoga community and my life in general is full of amazing, strong, and beautiful women so it is great to have a male friend and mentor like Aaron to balance that energy.

AcroYoga in the Marigny
AcroYoga in the Marigny

Another photo taken at the Swan River Marigny studio - this is Heath Stevens 'basing' Rachel Geffen while Ethan McElhinney looks on. Heath has been a good friend and AcroYoga partner and had me take some photos to promote a class he was teaching uptown. We have spent many hours practicing AcroYoga together and we will be doing another photo session soon, but for now I want to include this one to honor his contribution to my growth.

 Keith Porteous in malasana, Audubon Park New Orleans

Keith Porteous in malasana, Audubon Park New Orleans

This is my beloved Jivamukti teacher Keith Porteous. What you might not notice in this photo is that she is nine months pregnant! I took other photos that show her belly, but the expression on her face here is what really moves me. The compassion and love Keith has shown me since moving to New Orleans has had a deep influence on my life. I feel her recommendation for me to read the book The Diamond Cutter: The Buddha on Managing Your Business and Your Life" helped me come into a better relationship with my money and business, and possibly made all this possible. I love you Keith! 

Lily Virginia Filson
Lily Virginia Filson

When I first started the project I was not getting much response, so decided to go to the Model Mayhem website to see if there were some models who could do yoga to get the portfolio going. For this I did not receive any donation to the project, but got a chance to work with some great people and make some fun images. This is Lily, and in exchange for helping me out I gave her an AcroYoga lesson. Here she is 'flying' on my feet while I take the photo, which was a bit difficult for me! I love the expression on her face and the sunlight refracting in the lens. 

 Andy Craig in triangle pose / trikonasana

Andy Craig in triangle pose / trikonasana

Andy Craig wanted some photos of himself so that an artist friend could paint him using them as references. After a yoga class we went to my house and did these in the back yard. Much of what I love about New Orleans is the old houses and peeling paint. The background is actually a shed that one of my friends lives in. I hope to add more stuff like this to the portfolio.

 Steph Smith in Tree Pose

Steph Smith in Tree Pose

I had a fun session with Swan River teacher Steph Smith. We took some photos on her back porch and then headed to City Park, where this image was captured. Steph is a wonderfully genuine person and we had nice conversations and got to know each other a little better. Here she is doing tree pose, Vrksasana, in front of some gorgeous trees.

Libby Bryan practicing mudra
Libby Bryan practicing mudra

One of the coolest jobs I got from the project was a chance to photograph the Lululemon Athletica ambassadors. Lululemon is a store that sells clothing and accessories for yoga and other sports. The company looks for outstanding yogis and athletes in the community to represent the brand. Lululemon is socially responsible, environmentally sensitive and community oriented. Their clothes are pricey but super comfortable, stylish and sweat-absorbing.

This photo is of my Jivamukti teacher Libby Bryan, who has been one of my main pillars of support as I move towards my teacher training. She runs the Swan River Mid City yoga studio and organized a benefit class there to raise money for my training. She also had me photograph her wedding, the very first shoot for this project. Beyond all that she has been a great friend, and an inspiration as a teacher. I love you Libby!

Cat McCarthy, lululemon ambassador and Anusara certified teacher
Cat McCarthy, lululemon ambassador and Anusara certified teacher

Cat McCarthy is another one of the Lululemon ambassadors. She teaches Anusara yoga at her own studio, NOLA Yoga. Anusara is a style that I have studied a bit at the Yoga Sanctuary in Northampton, MA. It is focused on proper alignment and celebrating the joy of life, and I will definitely be integrating it into my practice. I was blessed to have this opportunity to meet Cat, and we will be doing another photo session soon. I love how the root of the tree in this photo mirrors the arch of her back. Thanks to Lindsay Leaver and all the folks at Lululemon for hooking me up with this job! 

Lynn Austin at City Park
Lynn Austin at City Park

One of my favorite sessions so far has been this one with Lynn Austin. We hit City Park just as the sun was setting and caught some of the beautiful golden lighting of late afternoon, and then kept going on into darkness. One of the great things about the project is getting to meet the people in the yoga community, and Lynn and I hit it off over the course of the session. Lynn also took the photo of me at the top of the page! 

 Secret Prayer in the Botanical Gardens

Secret Prayer in the Botanical Gardens

This is the last session, with another of the Model Mayhem models, Emily. We went to the Botanical Garden at City Park and spent a nice afternoon taking photos. I have not edited them all yet, but this one is one of the ones I like best so far. Emily was very sweet and fun to work with, and we got to climb a tree together as well. I love my work!

 Michelle Baker

Michelle Baker

This is my beloved teacher Michelle Baker with her dog. Michelle is my "Jivamukti Sistah". Those who know her do not really need much explanation, she is just a sweet, loving, dedicated and compassionate light to the yoga community and to New Orleans. When I first arrived here and took her classes the New Orleans Saints were working their way toward the Superbowl and her dharma talks often included them. I was in a sad space and this integration of sacred and mundane filled me with happiness, and taught me much about being a yogi. More recently, as I was facing the possibility that I wouldn't have enough money to make the teacher training, she counseled me and helped sooth my anxieties with practical and loving advice. Michele is the co-founder of Swan River Yoga, which currently has four locations in New Orleans. I love you Michele, thank you so much for being a light to us all!

I would also like to thank Sarah Quintana, Nathalie Croix of Shanti Shala Yoga, Gregory & Vincent from Deity Arts of the Orient, the mysterious Sparro, and Sean Johnson at Wild Lotus Yoga, all of whom had me take photos of events and beautiful subjects that don't fit into the yoga asana portfolio, but contributed to my yoga fund. Thanks to all of you for helping me on my path!

I hope you have enjoyed these photos, please leave some comments for me on this post. Thank you all so much for your support!

Lokaha Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu - May all beings everywhere be happy and free!