Photography and Yoga

I read a very interesting post on how photography can be a type of meditation (click here to read it).  I never realized it before, but after a photo walk my head is much clearer and I feel a sense of elation. I also get this feeling after a good yoga practice. The more I think about it (I think a lot!), the more yoga and photography relate to each other a lot as well.  A lot of lessons I learned through my photography and yoga practice really relate well to one another. Here’s my take on yoga and photography:

1)Santosha – This word means ‘contentment’, which in essence is being happy with your own immediate experience.   I find that my sense of satisfaction is greater when I focus on the subject being photographed.  If I take the time to look carefully at my viewfinder to ensure that my manual focus is ‘just right’, the photos always turn out better (i.e. composition is better, I am brought back to that exact moment when I actually took the photo). I also find that if I make sure I don’t get distracted by other things around me, the same sense of contentment happens. Same with yoga. Focus on what you have to do in your poses. Focus on your immediate task at hand. It’s an awesome feeling.

2)Tapas – this word means ‘disciplined use of energy’, or discipline for short.  I know I always feel better after practicing yoga, or helping someone, or accomplishing a goal.  While Yoga poses look easy, even the simple ones require lots of discipline and concentration, much like lots of other aspects of photography. It takes focus to get a good shot (especially if you have to manually focus!), learning techniques/composition, and just being in the mindset to practice.

3)Letting go of attachment – Any type of expectation is a form of attachment. Examples include expecting a certain type of result after so many days/weeks/years of practicing yoga etc. Same with photography. I’ve know people who after a few months, expect to become a professional right away.  People expect that having the right type of lens will gain them a better shot. I know for me, when I least expect it, is when I get the best shot. One of my favorite shots of all time involves walking out of a temple in Tibet, fumbling with my camera (and almost dropping it!), forgetting to check the manual settings and focus, and snapping a shot of two smiling monks. I really wanted the photo to turn out but to be honest, never expected it to. It got featured on this blog, so it can’t have been a bad shot.

4)Swadhyaya – This means ‘self study’. I feel that I’ve improved in yoga by making sure I listen to my body, and only pushing myself when my body feels ready. I’ve also been able to recognize when I’ve been too intimidated to try a new pose. Photography is the same thing. One of the few ways I’ve improved is constantly looking at my own photos and seeing how I could have made the shot better etc.

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