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The Year in Photos

Photographer Robert Sturman spent much of 2013 traveling and photographing yogis. Here's what he saw.

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Photographer and yoga student Robert Sturman traveled the globe in 2013 capturing amazing portraits of yogis along the way and creating his annual collection of photographs, 108 Asanas of 2013. The pictures speak for themselves, but we wanted to learn more about the man behind the camera.

Yoga Journal: What is your goal with the 108 Asanas collection?

Robert Sturman:  It is a way to honor a good portion of the people all over the world that I work with. This year was a special one, as I took my camera to Africa in collaboration with Africa Yoga Project. I realized that although I love the practice of yoga, it is the human spirit longing to be our best that inspires me immensely.

YJ: Why yoga photography?

RS: Yoga is so beautiful. The asanas are dramatic, soulful, heart opening gestures that have a poetry about them that lends itself to some of the most moving figurative art I have ever seen.

YJ: What’s your personal yoga practice?

RS: I love practicing yoga. I took my first yoga class when I was 19. There is something about when I unroll my mat and begin – it is my time to go in and clear out all of the unnecessary – from thoughts to toxins. Yoga helps me live life with more clarity. It has helped me to sit within myself and be still. And that is a wonderful way to live this life.

YJ: Did you have a favorite photo shoot from this collection?

RS: One that comes to mind was with Trace Keasler, who showed up for a shoot in New York City wearing a business suit. We spent the day together shooting in Grand Central Station and in the financial district. It was very cool and interesting that a guy in a suit would rock challenging arm balances all over New York City, but I think he was also speaking to the leadership qualities in each of us, addressing the possibility of living a powerful, integrated, and balanced life.

YJ: Do you have a favorite image?

RS: Every image was once my favorite image. When I make a picture, it is always my favorite image, until the next one is made. BUT, there is an image that fascinated me more than any other this year, and that’s the one of the four Kenyans practicing yoga on the beach on Lamu Island in the Indian Ocean. There is also a dog in the picture and the yogis are so proud and beautiful. That was really outside of the yoga box and it gave me so much pleasure to create that with them. It was in that moment, I realized that yoga is such a gift to me as an artist in that I can tell our stories with this exquisite figurative poetry we refer to as asana that I believe offers something profound and unique to the history of art.