India is magnificent. It's a huge country with countless journeys to be had and home to millions of people who haven't got much, yet are the most humble I have ever met. Its a place where you come to get some perspective on life, and I never knew what perspective meant until I spent some time there.
The reason I went wasn't for a photography project or for some self professed blog post. I went to study Yoga...
What does yoga have to do with photography?
Everything... As a photographer I found myself constantly burnt out, always on the go, never resting or at peace with myself or my work. I had worry, anxiety, bad posture, and with an endless stream of thinking when shooting I never felt calm when on a job. One day I thought; Imagine if I could be more focused? Waste less energy on worry? Be calmer, more productive and more present? Stop any negative thinking? I thought to myself if I could master all of this not only would my life improve in general, my photography would also benefit. It was time to assess myself and realised I needed to go inwards and understand more about what was causing all of this and work on it.
"The price of greatness is responsibility over each of your thoughts. The mind is a muscle. Use it or loose it" . Winston Churchill
I spent over a month in Varkala, Kerela (the south of India) to understand more about yoga and reflexology, and how it can help injury, illness and dis 'ease' within our bodies and minds. I found that we can not only use it to restore our balance, but also to find stillness, happiness and wellness within ourselves. I wanted to do a teacher training as I would take it more seriously, and it worked. Last month I received my 200hr Yoga Therapy certificate and level 1 reflexology, and it was a very humbling experience.
Since completing the course my posture has been restored, I feel calmer, less anxious and more focused. I have improved a lot but it's not a quick fix. It's a constant effort with commitment and determination, just like my photography. And to continue being responsible for myself and my practice I realise that I have a lot to work on, not just in my body and mind but also on what goals I have out of life.
A big part of it for me is being able to teach others what I have learnt and in turn it has filled up my soul. Every photographer should get a chance to experience the therapeutic qualities of Yoga and understand how different aspects of it can not only help with the demanding and stressful nature of our jobs ( posture, breath awareness, calmness) but also how it can help develop our creativity through a cultivated 'presentness' when we shoot.
I managed to take a few pictures whilst I was there to give you an idea of how amazing the place is and the energy. I visited a local temple festival to watch the actors getting ready for the Kathakali, and took some pictures of the place I was staying. The people I met also had their own amazing stories and as they all had an impact in my time spent in Varkala, I included a few of them below.
I felt that it definatley wasn't enough time, and in reality I only scratched the surface of both India and my own journey. There is still so much to learn and explore, but what makes me the most happiest is knowing that it's just the beginning!
(The images below depict the actors of Kathakali getting ready during a local Temple Festival Varkala. Kathakali is best known for it's stylized classical Indian dance-drama with attractive make-up and costumes taking over 3-4 hours to get ready. It lasts throughout the night).
Namaste x T