A choreographer I used to work with in high school used to say that they should be able to take a picture of a piece at any moment and see the image they were working to see. If all of the dancers were meant to be in the same position, a snapshot would show you if someone was a little late (falling behind the choreography), or if they were anticipating the next move (not truly on the beat, in the given movement, and in the moment of the dance). You needed to work to be precise and accurate as you moved through space.
Sometimes a photo can teach you more than you know. A photo can teach you to never get that haircut again or that whatever you thought you looked like in your 20s, it was definitely better than you thought while you were going through it! And it’s amazing how much you can change from photo to photo. In show business it’s required that you keep a current headshot that you give to directors and producers as you brave each audition. So, if you change the length of your hair, the color of your hair, lose or gain any kind of weight, or develop a couple of new wrinkles, it’s time to update your photos. This can be expensive and sometimes stressful, but you never want to walk into an audition with a shot that looks nothing like you. So, when I stopped wanting to dance in shows, I needed to get a picture that looked more like a leading lady. When I decided blonde was no longer my color, it was time to get yet another update. And now, if I wanted to attend an audition next week I would be in a pickle as I have long brown hair down my back and no professional photo of it.
Photos are a statement of where you are in a given moment. The attitudes and vulnerabilities of a certain era. They can teach where you have been and where you might be headed.
Before I was interested in attending Teacher Training I had a Bikram instructor that loved taking pictures while she was teaching class. She only did it every once in awhile, but once I saw the pictures it made me understand each posture in a whole new light. I could see where my body was in space from a new angle (see where my shoulders and hips actually were as opposed to where I thought they were) and understand what I specifically needed to work on to improve.
Over the last 2 years I’ve kept a consistent picture collection of my practice. Every couple of months I need to get a closer look. This way I can evaluate the posture, see where I need to make the adjustment. and then work in that space for awhile until it sinks in. Most of the time I can’t believe the progression the posture has taken since the last time I looked at it from a side view.
My practice is nothing special. It is special to me, but anyone can achieve what I have achieved in the hot room. Because of this I wanted to share some of these photos over the last 2 years of my practice so that you can see that it honestly just takes time, a commitment to the practice, and hard work. What I truly wish is that I had pictures from my first year of practice in 2005 in which I can perfectly remember not being able to wrap my foot behind my leg in Eagle Pose, backward bending freaked me out, I couldn’t grab my elbows in Wind Removing Pose, get my hips to touch the ground in Fixed Firm Pose, or even begin to comprehend what a locked out knee was. Everyone starts somewhere, but we’re all heading to the same place as we learn to balance out the body.
Standing Head to Knee June 2011 & October 2012
Standing Bow Pulling Pose June 2011 & March 2013
Bow Pose June 2011, October 2012, May 2013
Full Camel Pose November 2012, March 2013, June 2013
Your practice can be whatever you wish it to be. You just have to work hard, have patience (possibly years or decades of patience :)), and take the time to get to the hot room. Maybe this week take a picture of one of your favorite or least favorite postures and file it away. I assure you that as long as you keep up a consistent practice, in 6 months if you took another picture you would see improvement. Try the right way, every day, and change is inevitable.
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