A New Kind Of Retreat: Yoga And Photography In Action With Robert Sturman And Liz Arch!

A New Kind Of Retreat: Yoga And Photography In Action With Robert Sturman And Liz Arch!

By Autumn Feldmeier

The timing of my interview with Liz Arch, Robert Sturman and Jennifer Hoddevik on their retreat "Yoga and Photography in Action," could not have been better. Arch and Sturman are teaming up with The Travel Yogi and leading a new kind of retreat where they will lead yogi's and yogini's on an adventure to expand their bodies through yoga and their minds through photography.

The interview happened to coincide with a photographer booking a photo shoot with myself and two other yogini's, both with rockin' bodies.  This had me feeling nervous about the shoot and I even considered backing out! I was fearful of how I would look on camera. But, this interview was sopowerful for me, that I decided to go through with the photo shoot, as I gained a different perspective after speaking The Travel Yogi team!

Jennifer Hoddevik is the owner of The Travel Yogi. Robert Sturman is a world renowned photographer as well as a dedicated yoga practitioner. Sturman has increasingly focused on capturing the timeless grace and embodied mindfulness of asana in his work. His portraits, whether set in the lively streets of Manhattan, the expansive beaches and canyons of Malibu, the timeless elegance of Walden's New England, or the bleakness of Marin County's San Quentin Prison, remind us that there is beauty everywhere. Liz Arch is the creator of Primal Yoga®, a dynamic yoga/martial arts fusion class that merges Vinyasa yoga with the artistry of Kung Fu and the grace of Tai Chi into a creative, intelligent and mindful flow.  

AF: How did the idea for this retreat come about?

RS: It's the first of it's kind. A lot of people have been asking me to do a retreat where I just take photos but I never felt comfortable doing it. Liz is one of my best friends and she's connected with Jen and The Travel Yogi through her Seva work so I said yes.

LA: Robert is one of my favorite people in the world. In every photo he takes, he makes you feel comfortable, amazing and beautiful. He captures your spirit. I knew I wanted to share this with others. Yoga retreats take place in the most beautiful settings, so naturally people bring their cameras to capture magical moments and memories. I thought 'What if we bring the most talented and humble yoga photographer with us to help capture the beauty of our practice and our experience together?'

JH: Liz and Robert are the sweetest of besties and brought this project to us. Naturally we were beyond excited to begin working with Robert (nicest guy ever!) and we've loved sending Liz all over the world these last few years. The Travel Yogi is about engaging the most amazing teachers with the most amazing destinations to facilitate the open hearts and minds that make travel so very rewarding. With these two at the helm, bringing yoga and photography together on retreat was a no-brainer.

AF: What is at the 'heart' of this project for you?  

RS: I'm going to give everything I have. I'm going to share with the students how beautiful yoga is in this gorgeous setting and show them how they can easily follow a a simple formula that will enable them to consistently create incredible images.

LA: It's nice to do WHAT  you love with the people you love.

JH: Liz and Robert are the heart and soul of this project. Beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, hues and attitudes and there isn't a better team out there anywhere to bring together the beauty of yoga and photography more perfectly than these two. Robert and Liz are both pure heart and the beyond excited students already signed up will complete that harmony.

AF: How is this retreat tied in with social awareness and change?

RS:  I want to inspire us to go further with our photographs and tap into how powerful it is to celebrate life using yoga as the poetic language to do so. The asanas often convey our longing to live a life of excellence. And when we integrate that into our images, we elevate humanity.

LA: I'm an Advocate for AWBW (A Window Between Worlds), which is a national non-profit that uses art as a healing tool to empower individuals impacted by domestic violence and trauma. Jen reached out and graciously offered to lend her support to AWBW as well. I used to teach free yoga for the AWBW Survivor Art Circle, where students could attend a free class before their art class.  Part of why I love working with The Travel Yogi, is because they donate a portion of their profits to AWBW.

JH: Change begins with the individual, so what better way to enable change than by allowing people a new, stronger and more positive way to see themselves.  We love that Liz's teaching brings out the beauty in each individual practice and how Robert can capture that unique beauty. Teaching retreaters to recognize beauty in themselves and others is a powerful mechanism for change. And, as always, beyond the scope of this individual week The Travel Yogi donates a percentage of our profits to the non-profit AWBW.

AF: Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect on this retreat?

RS: We are all finding our inner art within the asana and capturing that energy vs the illusion of something glamorous. And, during the retreat, I'm going to be there, living my life as an artist with a camera, and sharing that with them. We will be hanging out, pointing towards the beauty while creating glorious works of art, together. Liz creates such a safe space, people naturally want to self-express. Great art is created out of that.

LA: A retreat that is all about connection in a really safe, nonjudgmental space.

AF: What about the person who feels like their body isn't in photo-ready shape?

LA: There is no perfect size, shape or weight. All bodies are beautiful and whatever body you're in now is photo-ready.  But I can certainly relate to having moments of insecurity about my own body and that's one of my favorite things about shooting with Robert - he makes you feel beautiful just as you are. In my daily life, I'm not glamorous at all. When Robert and I shoot together, I don't stress out about dieting or finding the perfect outfit, hair or makeup. We just show up and shoot from the heart. And that's what makes the best images.
AF: How do you want people to feel at the end of the retreat?

RS: I want people to feel inspired to add more beauty to our world with every picture that they make. I want people to get that each of us is worthy of being celebrated in images. I used to be so frightened of the camera and then one day I became my own model and realized that I was just as worthy as anyone. Everyone is and it is healthy to see and feel this. And, don’t worry, no one is going to be put on the spot!

LA: I want people to feel more connected to their own personal power. I want people to fully immerse themselves and come away with lifelong friends.
AF: Any last thoughts?

RS: The camera is a part of our culture as much as breathing. We need to learn how to use it mindfully, powerfully. We are all just exploring, finding the soul in our photos and evolving this medium in a more artistic way.  Everyone, without question, is going to become a better photographer and it’s going to be a lot of fun practicing and playing on the magical Mexican Sea.

LA: Come as you are, you are accepted as you are. Come together to the retreat, cheer each other on, support each other. Sometimes it takes seeing our beauty through the eyes of others to truly see the beauty within ourselves.

JH: Move, journey, learn, grow and love.  Do it on the mat, do it in on the road, do it every day.  Wake up, no matter where you are, with beauty and share it.

To learn more about this retreat or to register click here.

To find out more about Robert Sturman and Liz Arch, you can visit their websites: www.robertsturmanstudio.com and www.lizarch.com.

To see Robert Sturman's 108 Yoga Images from 2016 CLICK HERE>>>

To learn more about the author, you can visit her blog.

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