Doing the usual morning scrolling on IG and I saw a pretty dope photograph…. That led me to see who the Yogi in the photo was … Soon after I realized the Yogi is the photographer and vice versa. I like to record video and snap photos and do yoga so I thought it would be interesting to find out what goes on in the mind of @MinaMiners! Check out the Q&A below!
When did you begin practicing yoga and how has it changed your life?
Around summer of 2012. A lot happened that year. Everything seemed to spiral out of control. I was psychologically and emotionally unstable. One day I woke up and decided to watch a video on YouTube about basic yoga. I did a few asanas on my bed as I watched. It felt nice. I’m not sure what clicked, exactly, but I just continued it from there. Maybe it was the rhythm and how good it felt to stretch. Maybe it reminded me of dancing. Whatever it was, I latched on to it. And I slowly found myself practicing more and more and more. Until I progressed to today’s practice.
Yoga has transformed me, quite literally. Not too much in a physical sense, I may be a lot more toned now, but I still have the same shape. It was more the inner growth. Yoga opens your mind up to your capabilities, your fears, your doubts, your dreams. Your ideas of “limits” become thwarted. If I can do this on the mat, when I never thought I could…what else am I keeping myself from in life? I just started opening myself up to everything. Nothing is out of my reach. It’s a transformation that goes so beyond what I can express. My perspective on my life has been shifted.
Which do you prefer doing… yoga on the sunset or sunrise?
I can’t say I have done a full sequence during sunrise! Although, in Costa Rica I did watch the sunrise every morning. So I will say sunset. For now.How does practicing yoga reflect in your work as a photographer?I am an amateur photographer. I am teaching myself along the way. I have dabbled in it for years. But this year in particular, I have honed in on capturing my yoga. This is a year of self. And it started New Year’s Day on vacation in Costa Rica. I travel solo and I adore it.
This trip I just laid my camera down and started filming myself. And not just yoga, but walking, reading, people watching, swimming. And I took stills of myself. And I loved how simple it was to capture life. That’s me. That’s what I look like when I take a step in the sand. Or when I twirl. Or when I do Pincha Mayurasana. When I capture moments, I am looking to capture many things. But movement is my favorite. Yoga teaches you to be very aware of your body and its positioning. Body awareness is something that I have become pretty good at. And it makes all the difference when I am capturing myself. I have always known how beautiful women of
color are. It is no question that this society we live in embraces a certain ideal and type of beauty. Even Instagram has become this machine of imagery, with constant reminders of what mainstream beauty is. I see what everyone gravitates towards. And then I see what I find as beautiful. I captured myself and saw beauty. Raw, deconstructed, artistic beauty. There is something really enlightening to capture myself as I see myself, not as some other photographers wish to project my image. I am giving you exactly what I see. I don’t care if you think it is beautiful or not. I see the light in myself. I see the beauty in my yoga. If I can capture myself and transcend the figurative “box” people wish to put me in, I feel euphoric. I am doing something very right.
Who were you before you practiced yoga in comparison to who you have become?
Oh. Wow. Well I guess to some extent you will always retain the fundamental you. But that “you” is constructed from many outside sources. Your upbringing, your environment, your peers, and your society. So part of my idea of myself has shifted. I used to be extremely stressed, defeated, closed, angry, self depreciating, self doubting, uninspired, complacent, and so far from the artsy child I once was. Now, the most rewarding part of my yoga journey is my shift back to my own creative expression.
Dedicating just an hour a day for yoga, forces you to spend time with yourself. And doing that will open up a lot of emotions. Just think of how little time people spend on their emotional and physical health? How often are you completely still? No television, no iPhone. No barrage of insistent information. That’s why fitness is so important. Yoga just adds the meditation. When you’re forced to sit with yourself, all of your ideas for yourself and about yourself fire up. You start to realize everything you never realized. About yourself and about your surroundings. I am a lot stronger. I am self driven. I am focused. I am open. I am lifted. I am on a journey of self. That’s not to say I don’t have bad days, or don’t get hot headed. I still do. But afterwards I can reflect on why it was never about what I thought it was anyway.
Life is a bunch of fleeting moments. When my instructor holds us in an intense asana for more than we’d like, she always says, “What does this moment mean to you”? You have to ask yourself that. What do these moments mean, and how are you internalizing them. How you internalize any given moment, whether good or bad, has immense effects on your view of self. It can either uplift you, or slowly destroy you. If you can’t see the light in yourself, how can you see the love and light in others? It’s a constant work in progress, but I see the benefits of reflection.
Without yoga what do you think you would be doing to find peace of mind?
Anything creative. Dancing. I like photography. Sewing. Making jewelry. Calligraphy. Mostly traveling gives me peace of mind and clarity. One day I’ll be able to do that as my full time job.
I also really enjoy spending time with my parents and family now. I always felt uncomfortable and judged before because I always felt like the black sheep.
I am the black sheep. But I embrace it, and I think they do too. I see the importance of spending these precious times with people who love me unconditionally. Whether that love is clear as day or foggy.
How important is alignment in yoga and photography? How do you utilize this geometry to compliment your expression?
If you want to practice yoga for the long term, alignment is imperative. Certain asanas require more of a body part than others, certain asanas need stacked hips, or a strong core. You better ensure everything is correct, or you can hurt yourself. I realized pretty quickly my knees were getting sore. I was locking them out in poses like triangle and paschimottanasa. Now I know. Your body will let you know. So listen to it. In regards to my photography, the simplest poses can turn out really beautifully. I love capturing silhouettes! Yoga asanas are so layered. You can keep it simple or really dramatic. I love how something so simple can be stunning.
What is the biggest difference in practicing indoor and outdoor?
Being a city girl, winter is obviously very hard to practice outdoors. I invested in a slightly expensive gym, that is pretty far from my apartment. That means I have to dedicate myself to showing up and getting to class. Most people don’t even show up to their gym downstairs in their building, yet I have to walk a mile and take a train to get to my gym. I try to go at least 4 times a week. And when I can’t get there, I go to a yoga studio near my apartment usually twice a week. What I’m emphasizing here is that the city during cold and/or bad weather is not conducive to outdoor yoga. But when it is I feel amazing. Nothing is better than lugging my mat to Central Park or along Riverside Park and getting my practice on with the air on my skin, and the complexities of the city surrounding me. I can shoot the background of taxis, skyscrapers, skylines, eclectic people, statues and a multitude of other expectant New York City imagery. I become a part of the image. A tiny beautiful part. When I shoot indoors, specifically my gym, my body becomes the focal point. I never even realized that
.How does location effect your yoga practice? I don’t ever have a specific spot I think about to practice. New York is a pretty amazing place, and you can find hidden locations everywhere to capture a really nice image. When I practice I can feel open and free. When I do, I practice in the middle of anywhere. With people walking briskly, passing you by, staring, snapping photos of you, babies running circles around you, soccer games and whistles blowing a few feet from your mat. It can be exhilarating. Sometimes, though, I seek quiet refuge. A little corner behind a tree. Or an empty playground with nothing but the occasional dog walker and a little sniff from his accompanying puppy. I love that about my city. Whatever surrounding I want, I get. As long as I am willing to search a bit for it.
Is there anything that you require before starting your routine? Music, Incense, juice etc?
I pretty much have the same routine. I wake up, get my green tea going and do a little lite stretching in bed. I give myself a little pep talk to start the day. Throw my gym clothes in a bag, and head to the gym while listening to my soca music to get my aura flowing and ready to practice.
There is not much else to it. The only thing I try to avoid is rushing. If I have had a long night working the night prior and I wake up later than usual, and I find myself frantically trying to get to class, I hate it. It frustrates me on the mat. I like having a few minutes to meditate on the mat before my teachers get there.
Do you find yourself being an a example of peace by making your yoga practice public via ig fb etc?
It wasn’t always public. It’s only been so recently. Just three weeks ago I tried seeing what happened if I shared my Instagram and kept it open. I had been told I had nice pictures. I do have to filter when I think some internet prowlers don’t have the best intentions, but so far it’s been an uplifting response. If anyone can look at my photos and enjoy them, and see the art in what I try to project, then I am happy.
Is yoga therapeutic for you? If so what has it helped you with most?
It is the ultimate therapy. I think besides the aforementioned consciousness of my capabilities and acknowledgement of my own power, yoga has also transformed my projection of beauty. I big chopped my hair in 2013 and that was also a crucial turning point for me. My idea of beauty changed. I love that I am a woman of color who emulates strength. I love capturing myself in a way that deviates from the expected and the norm. As a woman of color I am constantly bombarded by judgements, assumptions, labels, accolades, questions, and opinions. My yoga doesn’t allow for that. My yoga allows me to see my own interpretation of thought.
I love scrolling through social media and seeing the stunning beauties of color.
Especially when they are investing in themselves and exposing their artistic vulnerabilities. And it is vulnerable. You open yourself to that constant judgement. My new series that I am working on: Woman of Color in Fitness, will showcase the power and light of woman of color. I especially want to capture partner work to emphasize the importance of support and encouragement from fellow sisters. It’s one hell of a beautiful image to see two women feeding off the strength and wisdom of each other. I want to see more of that. Less degradation and defamation. Less competition and confliction. Less of what society expects and more of the beauty that is too often pushed asunder.Do you use photography to enhance / accentuate your yoga postures? If so what are you reaching to express?
I do find that photography has greatly helped my yoga. I almost never practice on my own without videoing myself. Aside from nice images I may get, I use it to see what I am doing wrong and correct it. Especially with inversions, when it is very hard to feel exactly what is going in in your body. I can go back to the photo or video and see how maybe I am too forward with my shoulders or not engaging my core.
As far as expression, I just wish to seize a moment. However that moment looks. I love seeing strength and fluid femininity converge. My muscles, veins, and cellulite are on display just as much as the soft curve of my thighs. I love expressing myself as I see myself. I have, at times,
photographers wishing to work with me. I used to jump at the opportunity. Now, I know how they see me. It’s not wrong, I have just been there and done that. I don’t need to see how a man views me. It’s not to say I will never work with another man to create art. Far from it. I just mean that, for now, I’m giving you the reality of me. And I’ll take that over any foreign projection of my being.
Where do you see yourself doing yoga in 22 years?
I would love to be practicing on a beautiful beach, bare bodied, and sun kissed. With the knowledge that I am everything I wish to be. Now and then. I hope to continue inspiring others and help them on their yoga journey.
If I have children, they will be right along side me, confident and sure. I hope to continue my journey of self and work at keeping that which does not serve me, away from me. I would love to teach yoga to little girls and boys of color. I will make it a firm understanding that your inner light is self fueled, and that no outer component in this life can or should disrupt that flame.Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of infocus247.com:
I don’t wish people to see a divisive tone to my wording. I see beauty in everyone. That is the amazing part of life, how surrounding beauty is. I just don’t see nearly as much emphasis on other ideas of beauty. I do see a perpetual need to change certain beauty into the constructed perception of what beauty should consist of. For me, yoga, beauty, and self acceptance has everything to do with one another. My father always tells me, your habits make your life. So create good ones. I think that is such valuable advice. Whatever you do and think and say, day in and day out, becomes you. So do, think, create, be, live as positive a life as you can. And maybe, just maybe, that uplifting habitual process can start with a little downward dog. Namasteॐ
Thank you for sharing a little but more about your practice and experience!
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