Here at triyoga, we want to celebrate the broad spectrum of yoga practitioners so, in 2018, we launched our #weareyoga Instagram campaign. Take a look below at the results of our collaboration with world-renowned photographer Alessandro Sigismondi, showcasing every day yoga students and their stories. You can also follow us on Instagram here.
“My work as a priest is varied, interesting, enjoyable and demanding. On a friend’s recommendation, I decided to give yoga a go as I was finding it difficult to have space for myself. I wasn’t sure what to expect, having never imagined myself as a ‘yogi’, but it’s been quite simply superb. It’s many things all at once – exercise, meditation and reflection. It’s calming and it’s community. It’s OK not to attempt too much and for a change, it’s not all eyes on me. I simply find a corner of the class and enjoy what works for me in that moment.
“Yoga is a spiritual practice that works well for me as a person of faith. A number of other students in my yoga class are churchgoers. It’s definitely working – why else would I get out of bed for a 9am start on my one day off a week?! Maybe not with the clerical collar, though – that stays behind with all other thoughts of work.”
Nick is 59 and has been a Church of England priest for 25 years. He is seen here practising ardhya matsyendrasana, (half lord of the fishes pose).
In the past two and a half years, Luisa has lost 8 stone and says yoga has been an integral part of that journey.
“Yoga has taught me about myself, to trust my body, and to feel and be more in it. My life is in a constant state of flux with changes happening all the time. Yoga is my ‘go-to’ place and I can practise wherever and whenever I want. I am able to be still and be present because of this practice.”
Luisa is 45 and a natural intuitive healer. She is seen here practising sukhasana (easy pose).
“Seven years ago I was invited to a class in the basement of my workplace. It was freezing, the floor was tiled and cold and my body wouldn’t move much and yet I had a lovely time! I started to follow the teacher wherever she was teaching and soon my body started to move with a bit more ease. And yet I cared less and less about what was happening on the mat and I just enjoyed myself. I found a new home – my mat. Since then, I’ve had a hip replacement and I’ve retired from work. I practise a lot at home and it gives me so much joy. I have another great love – knitting and I think it’s just another form of meditation.
“I cannot describe how fortunate I was to find my teacher, Laura. No one would ever be impressed by my practice but the pleasure, tranquillity, fun and laughter I feel on my mat is irreplaceable, and will be with me for life. Just rolling around on the floor, who would think it would give so much! At this stage of my life, I’m most proud of being happy and remembering not to take anything for granted. I’m content with who I am and what I have.”
Fenella is 73 and retired. She practises vinyasa flow yoga.
“I lost my sight when I was a teenager due to a genetic eye condition. I go to group classes and have a teacher trainee alongside me to assist. I listen as much as I can to the teacher’s instruction, and if I don’t quite get the position right the trainee helps me without needing to talk. Over time, I grew familiar with the instructions and was able to feel what is correct through muscle memory. During class, I feel so relaxed as I know I can follow along without disturbing anyone and I really feel like part of a community.
“Yoga has given me a connection and awareness to my body. I have experienced anxiety and bouts of depression throughout my adult life and yoga has allowed me to stop my brain from going 100 miles an hour simply because it asks me to multitask – I must hold a position while relaxing my shoulders all the while focusing on my breath – with all that going on the worry machine in my head has no chance of winning. People with disabilities are statistically more likely to feel isolated and having the opportunity to practise yoga not only provides valuable integration into society, but also has a positive effect on my physical and mental health. An opportunity as valuable as this should be open to all.”
Adi is 36 and an inclusive design consultant. He practises a variety of styles but is drawn to ashtanga yoga. He is seen here practising vrksasana (tree pose).
“When I first started yoga, I knew nothing about it. My background was in fitness and sports. Why would a guy like me be interested in yoga? I had a client who was an Olympic athlete and he wanted to improve his flexibility so I started going to yoga classes for some ideas to help him. I tried a few styles but there was one that really challenged me – ashtanga. I enjoyed it as exercise because the postures were hard. But pretty soon I was surprised to find an internal aspect of the practice and this is what ended up really changing my life.
“I practice nearly every day now and when I do, I feel grounded. Yoga helps me focus and it makes me happy. I get something at yoga that I don’t in any other form exercise. It’s now a tool for life and I just can’t live without it.”
Ty is 32 and a personal trainer @bethefittest. He practises ashtanga yoga and is seen here practising urdhva mukha svanasana (upward facing dog).
Richard is 43 years old and works in homeless hostels helping those with substance abuse and mental health problems. She has been in transition since August 2017. Here is her yoga story:
“Last night, 10 men shouted at me. Mocking me, disgusted by me (a tiny bit of me thinks I’m disgusting too). Why did no one stand up and say something? Please let me be someone who says something. Please let me be someone who protects people. Slowly, please let me be someone who protects myself. My yoga story intertwines with my transition story. That’s a book – one with an end. Different postures play a role in accessing love, gender and sexuality. The importance of a foundation of self-love – developed through asana and prayer – is imperative for taking on any major project. And gosh, I’m in the middle of one right now. A middle that might never end. When I look at this photo, I see many things.
“First – beauty and it makes me cry. Where others are sometimes disgusted, it’s interesting to see beauty. Second, yoga has made me reassess so many false idols like money, status and a career. Still, I have to wonder if beauty is a new false idol. I wonder if I can enjoy it but not chase it. Third, my body is female and strong and powerful. A home for my troubled soul and restless mind, battle ready for surgery and drugs. Thank God, or actually thank asana, for my physical strength. Finally, yoga doesn’t make you feel better. It makes you feel more.
“Last night, 10 men abused me. Worse, no one intervened. That hurts. I hurt. This is yoga. Next time I write my yoga story, maybe I’ll have watched a coot build her nest. Maybe I’ll have been greeted by my favourite local stray cat. Maybe I’ll have stood in my kitchen window and watched the little girls on my estate play hide and seek. That’s joy. That makes my heart sing. This is yoga. We are yoga.”