The Healing Lesson Of Yoga Photography With Robert Sturman

The Healing Lesson Of Yoga Photography With Robert Sturman

By Autumn Feldmeier

Yogis love photos, just look at Instagram and you will see photo after photo of yogis in gorgeous places, beautiful poses and many times, these are difficult poses. For the 'average' yogi, this can feel intimidating, at least for me it does. In the social media world, we are surrounded by these images and it can make us feel pressured to keep up.

Who hasn't pulled themselves into a pose their body wasn't ready for just to get the photo? Or taken dozens of photos only to realize the lighting or angle was impossible to work with? Our relationship with our reflection is a difficult one. But, it doesn't have to be this way!

"The camera is a very magical tool when used with a positive, caring intention," says Robert Sturman.

Robert's art captures the timeless grace and embodied mindfulness of asana. A dedicated yoga practitioner himself, Robert's work has increasingly gestured at something beyond the physical, something transcendent. His stunning repertoire runs the gamut from yogis perched on rocks surrounded by the Pacific ocean, to orphans practicing yoga in Kenya, Africa, to breast cancer survivors, bare-chested and scarred.

Robert is holding a workshop at YogaWorks on Sunday March 31st called "Mastering the Art of Yoga Photography," and I had the honor of connecting with him to learn a little bit more about his workshop and his work as a photographer.

You capture a wide variety of images, from prison yoga, to Tao Porchon-Lynch, to soldiers in yoga poses, to children living in the slums in India. I want to hear more about this.

The yoga world is vast. I am simply telling the entire story, not just one aspect. What makes what I do so interesting and exciting to me is that it is an excuse to photograph the whole world because everyone is doing it everywhere. And, yoga is such beautiful figurative poetry, it is an exquisite way to tell a story of humanity striving to be better humans beings.

How do you capture yogis that are insecure in front of the camera?

Well, I am that yogi. But I am getting much better. I think it is nice to make peace with the camera. And it is healthy to allow ourselves to be seen. I often tell my subjects that we can throw away anything that we do not like. The bottom line is, I am seeing their light and that is what I am celebrating, and people love to see themselves as well. It is quite healing. In addition,  many of us subscribe to the belief that acrobatic/physically challenging poses are what makes a great photograph. I don't agree with that. While I do photograph challenging poses, I am much more moved by a pose that is coming from the heart, than a physically challenging pose that lacks heart. If I am to photograph a challenging pose, it must have both. The heart is what gives life to the art. And I will always choose sincerity over athleticism.

We are super excited about your workshop coming up, who should attend?

The workshop is for everyone. I teach techniques to create powerful, clear images of the figure. And, I also teach the yoga of seeing and the power of the photograph to reflect back to others their beauty. The camera is a very magical tool when used with a positive, caring intention. 

For those students attending the workshop, what feeling do you want them to leave with?

That the camera is an excuse to pay attention to people and see them. We all want to be seen. We can use this camera, whether it is your phone or a fancy machine, to pay attention, see and celebrate others around us. I also want everyone to know exactly how to make a great photograph and I definitely see to it that each student takes that knowledge away with them. After all, we are going to have a camera in our hands for the rest of our lives. We have a choice. We can use it with mediocrity, or we can use it with mastery. 

To learn more about Robert Sturman visit and get your tickets to his workshop on March 31st here.

Robert is booking private shoots at the Palace of Fine Arts and Baker Beach March 31 - April 2. For details and pricing, email

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