Meet Dawn, or as her friends call her, Monkey! I met this happy spirit a couple years ago through a mutual friend and we shot some photos together. Through social media, I started following her yoga journey, her practice and her progress. What an inspiring journey it was! Dawn took her first vinyasa yoga class in 2011 when a friend encouraged her to try it out. From there, her practice became a daily routine, a lifestyle, and she continues every day still to evolve and grow within herself.
Yoga has been a huge part of my life for the last 10 years. I took my first yoga class in community college with my sister about 10 years ago and quickly fell in love with the practice. I learned of yoga through my mother who fell in love with the practice long before it was the cool thing to try out. My mother, a devout yogini who finished her 2 year teacher training last year inspired me to try the practice. In my mother, I saw what a beautiful change it had made to her spirit. I saw how the practice brought balance to her life and a sense of calm to her soul. It brought her a sense of purpose and of passion. After making yoga a part of her lifestyle, she began freelancing in translation and created within herself a life that had meaning to her. There are many things I love my mom for, and one is bringing me in touch with the practice of yoga.
At the time when I had taken my first yoga class, I was more just looking for a workout or even just a college credit for my physical education requirements. Little did I know what an impact the practice would have on me years later. I practiced very on and off… here and there when I had the chance, but didn’t realize how important routine practice was. When I transferred to UCLA I found Bhakti Yoga Shala in Santa Monica and my understanding and love for the practice and lifestyle really came to me.
For the last year or so, I’ve been making my yoga practice a vital part of my life. Not just simply by going to class but by using the practice to transcend into my lifestyle. I’ve learned to take things step by step. I’ve learned that, like perfecting a pose, that it’s more important to be correctly aligned even if that means I have to use a strap or a block. I’ve learned to take a moment of quietness and to accept that things come slowly sometimes. Things take time and patience and practice. My headstand, for example, I get frustrated when I can’t get up into it, but then I realize I am still working on it and it’s the journey that matters, not the end goal. And if my shoulders aren’t strong enough to get me there, it means I am not ready and I can only continue to practice daily until I am able to have the correct and safe alignment. I can’t get frustrated and give up, but instead, take a moment to breathe and continue to do my best. It’s not a failure to not be able to get into a pose… that’s just the place you are in at the moment. I’ve learned to honor my efforts and understand my limitations. I’ve learned that only through small daily practices can you expand your limits. Not all at once, but every day, with practice and dedication. I’ve learned that with intention, practice, devotion and a clear head, anything is possible. I’ve learned NOT to multitask, and I now take each task one at a time and put 100% commitment into that task. Life, as yoga, is about balancing everything. You can’t spend a year focusing on career and then the next year focusing on health and then the year after that focusing on relationships… it all must be balanced within your life. As in yoga, you wouldn’t just perfect one pose and then go about sloppily with the rest. You move into one pose at a time and give each pose 100% commitment and focus, once you’ve breathed into the pose long enough to really feel and understand it, then you move on to the next pose and continue to give each one the balance and commitment needed. My goal this year is to do everything with intention… everything I do, from the smallest tasks like taking my dog on a walk or washing the dishes, I want to do with intention and commitment. Through my practice of yoga, I’ve learned to bring this intention into my life.
I was so thrilled when Dawn approached me for this session. It was such a fun and beautiful day, we shot around the hills of Echo Park and ended up in gritty downtown. Moving into each asana slowly and with intention, we were able to capture some really nice moments. I’m so excited to start a new journey into putting together my two largest passions… yoga and photography. This session could not have been possible without the help of my lovely assistant Gabriela Manevich, Yogala Studios in Echo Park and malas created by Mary Caroline Jewelry. Also thank you to Onzie Active Wear for the pants! Please make sure to visit Dawn’s website Yoga With Monkey to follow her journey and find some awesome classes & events!
Enjoy these images, take time to view each one and have a wonderful, intention-filled day!