The Image of Yoga is a project to remind the world that yoga is a practice that is accessible to everyone—every age, shape, size and ethnicity.

What does Yoga look like?

First, we’ve got to acknowledge that you can’t actually photograph yoga itself…

The fancy gymnastics that much of our culture identifies with yoga is simply asana, the physical practice of yoga. But the word actually means something closer to “union,” implying union between breath & body, self & world, personal & divine. It’s expressed in many ways, from physical and breath practices to meditation, selfless love to community service.

So “yoga” is a lot of things, or it’s something both complex and simple… it’s challenging, if not impossible, to photograph.
… but you can photograph yogis.

Backstory

In 2015, I began photographing Philadelphians who practice yoga.

Inspired by my philosophy that everyone is photogenic, and modeled on my already successful How Philly Moves community dance photography project, The Image of Yoga 2015 brought together participants for both a rich conversation around images of yoga as well as a series of community portraits and asana images.

It looked a little bit like this:

GAIAM Sponsorship

In 2016, with a sponsorship from Gaiam, I continued The Image of Yoga with another community photo event.

It was my first time working with corporate backing; I was delighted to have the support in producing the work, but was concerned about both maintaining the integrity of the work and protecting the individual community members who took part in the project.

I’m glad that we were able to work out an agreement focused on the creation of the work as public art without mixing it up with advertising; this allowed me to keep the project as inclusive as possible without compromising community process.

I’m grateful to Gaiam for helping us create these images. You can find more of them on my Instagram feed with the hashtag #TheImageOfYoga

Traveling Exhibit

In 2018, I designed a 35′ panoramic installation of the images for Studio 34, and in 2019 I re-output it as a series of durable modular panels that can be reconfigured for different community spaces.

The installation is currently on display at 1500 Chestnut Street in the Philadelphia School of Massage and Bodywork (in The Ellington Building, lower level) through the end of May 2020.


The panels can be configured either as a single 35′ panorama, divided up to suit smaller spaces.

If you would like to host this exhibit in your space, please get in touch.


In the meanwhile, I’m keeping up my own yoga practice, with the good fortune of living two blocks north of  Studio 34: Yoga | Healing | Arts.

If you’d like to hear about what happens next, sign up for my mailing list!

Photo credits

Gaiam sponsorship photo by Nicole Howe for Gaiam  •  Photos of JJ photographing by Anna Drozdowski, Judi Levin, and Joe Longo Photography  •  Photo of audience viewing exhibit at Studio 34 by  Hanbit Kwon  •  All other photographs © JJ Tiziou