From downward dog to bendy camel, yoga and its shapely poses can exude plenty of sex appeal. But look closer at its practitioners and you’ll see unsightly, sweaty faces contorted with pain as they try to pull off the master move. Jonah Sargent’s picture series ‘Faces of Yoga’ takes a peek at this comical side of the Indian discipline.
How did you come up with this amusing photo series?
I had an interesting experience one day at an upscale yoga studio in uptown Minneapolis. A woman came in, wearing what she said was nearly $500 of yoga clothing because the instructor had told her she’d look sexy in it. During class the instructor kept complimenting her, and the yogi kept looking in the mirror and readjusting it to gaze at her. It all just made me feel like there was something funny with the glamorisation of this ancient discipline.
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Do you have fun when you see these kinds of faces?
I have a lot of fun making this series. The goal of ‘Faces of Yoga’ is to to get people to laugh at themselves. It’s a wonderful job.
What’s the weirdest part of yoga that few know but you want to portray in your series?
I guess the weirdest thing about yoga that few people know is that there are people who take pictures of themselves on beaches every day, upload those photos to Instagram, and then check their phones all day to see if they got any likes or follows. It’s a game. It’s really shallow... and it’s extremely funny to me.
Did the people in the snaps pose for them specially?
I took the photos at yoga classes with real people. Many were friends, many were strangers. I’ve photographed around 60 people to date around Minneapolis and in Berlin, Germany.
What’s the series all about?
It’s a comedic critique of our obsession to look good even when it should matter the least...
Jonah is putting his series into a book. Support him here: https://www.kickstarter. com/projects/1368692694/ faces-of-yoga-a-coffee-tablephoto-book