Thursday, April 14, 2011

So Hum: Self Expression through Yoga


Model: Jody Greene
Photography By Faern 
Interview By SpoiledYogi

The only instruction you were given prior to this photo shoot is not to wear traditional yoga clothes! Tell us why you chose your outfit. What does it say about you? 
I wear jeans and boots pretty much every day. I keep exploring the possibility that yoga doesn't have to be something that occurs in a special place--a yoga studio--in a special outfit--what you call here "traditional yoga clothes." So if I want yoga to permeate my life, I'd better be able to practice in jeans and boots. And the leather jacket? Well, that's just for fun. And it prevents road rash if you tumble out of an asphalt inversion. 

How does yoga help you to express who you are and who you want to be?
Yoga doesn't help me access who I am; it helps me take apart and look at who I think I am, bit by bit, piece by stubborn piece. Through yoga I find again and again that my fixed ideas about this person, this one, are just an assemblage of stories I've collected over time. And when I don't know who I am anymore, I can begin to experience wonder and curiosity and true open inquiry about who I might become. 

What important lessons have you learned about yourself through your yoga practice?
Not knowing is the most intimate. OK, that's a famous zen aphorism, but I get to study that lesson, that koan, every day when I climb onto my yoga mat or when I just wake up and take a new breath. I have no idea what will happen. That I should have ended up deeply immersed in these spiritual practices--in zen and yoga--well, if you'd met me a dozen years ago, you wouldn't have predicted that this was the turn my life would take. Not in a million years. And if you'd told me this is what my life would be, I would have laughed in your face. And not in a nice way. No ahimsa aspirations for this one. So--what have I learned, what am I learning? Everything is up for grabs, nothing is predictable. Take care of your life, yes; set intentions and take care of this precious life. But know that tomorrow, the life you have been taking care of could be transformed beyond recognition. And have faith that your practice and your teachers will sustain you through that transformation and all those that follow. 

What's your favorite pose? Why?
Padmasana, Siddhasana, Sukhasana: these are the original yoga postures-- the ones for which all the others are, more or less, designed to prepare you. I came to yoga through sitting, in order to ease and support my sitting practice, so these postures are very dear to my heart and central to my practice. When I practice, I set an intention to take care of my body so I can sit in peace. I practice from that place. Beyond these, I have an ongoing love affair with anahatasana--it's a deep, forehead to the floor bow and a heart opener at the same time. What's not to love? 

Tell us what inspires you so we can be inspired, too.
When I get on my mat at sunrise to sit for a few minutes and perform a handful of sun salutations, maybe chanting a few rounds of the gayatri mantra, I remember that for the last few thousand years, countless numbers of humans have done these same simple actions every day. Talk about inspiration. Sadhana has not stopped, not once. And it doesn't have to be complicated, and you can always feel supported and companioned when you do it. Listen to this: for thousands of years, there has never been a sunrise without Surya Namaskar, there has never been a dawn without voices chanting the gayatri, there has never been a new day without the sangha gathering, in groups or alone, to take a few moments to breathe in silence and prepare for whatever arises in the hours to follow, known or unknown. That simple fact still blows my mind, and I feel grateful and so blessed to have stumbled onto this path, this dharma lifeway, in lycra and leather, to join in. Get up, light a candle, take a breath, and become part of the great stream of practice awakening. It's 
irresistible. 

Faern is a yoga practitioner and photographer in San Francisco. Visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.

Would you like to take part in this project as a model? Please be in touch by emailing this address sohum.selfexpression@gmail.com and we’ll send more information. If you are not in the Bay Area or planning a visit, do not worry, there are travel plans afoot, subscribe to the blogs  http://www.faern-in-the-works.com  and http://spoiledyogi.blogspot.com/  to keep in touch and get updates on travel plans”