One Posture | One Breath | At a Time - a blog by Namas J

Earlier this year I asked my friend Ricky (Ricardo Seijas) to help me come up with a new t-shirt design for the studio.  Ricky is an artist and a graphic designer who does high-end work for a Fortune 500 company.  Ricky has also practiced yoga with us, and although he’s currently taking a “savasana” from the heat, I still consider him a Be Hot yogi.

Ricky has, in fact, donated his artist talent to BHYA on more than one occasion – he designed our rack cards and re-calibrated our logo.  He told me he enjoys having a creative side idea to work on because it helps him relax.  It allows him to take a break from his high pressure work without losing his creative flow.

We met to brainstorm t-shirt designs at a mutual favorite breakfast spot.  I explained that our best selling shirts haven’t been the ones with our logo across the front, because they tend to look like a uniform.  We checked out the t-shirts at the place we were eating and both agreed, we wouldn’t buy one of their t-shirts for exactly that reason - it looked like something the staff would wear.

Some time after this conversation I came across an image of a tree with words and numbers integrated into its branches.  Something about this image resonated for me as perfect for a yoga studio.  In India, in ancient times, yoga was taught outside, under a tree, in the shade!

The more I thought about a tree as a potential graphic for a new BHYA t-shirt, the more I liked it.  So much work is done in yoga beneath the surface, just like the roots of a tree.  I can look at student when I’m teaching a class and they might be smiling, but I really don’t know what they’re silently saying to themselves, or how they’re feeling.

Further, “yoga work” is a slow process much like the growth of a tree.  At the beginning we can’t predict how the branches will split or which limbs will bear the most productive leaves, but the tree inherently knows.  Slowly it grows to become strong and supple.  Similarly in yoga, you can’t (typically) expect to strike the perfect pose in your first class.  But if you listen to your body, if you bring patience to your practice you will become grounded, limber and purposeful.

I referenced my collection of yoga books to see what they said about tree pose: Virkasana (as it’s classically named) or Tadasana (in the Bikram tradition).  Here’s what they said:

  • A tree really symbolizes tolerance (a good reminder in this crazy election year).
  • Trees are the “lungs” of the earth - they give us O2. 
  • They give us shade on a hot day, a respite. 
  • Trees don’t discriminate - they give oxygen and shade even to the person who is about to chop them down.
  • A tree constantly gives energy even while appearing still.
  • A tree can live for years and tolerate massive storms, heat, cold, wind, drought and regenerate itself again and again.
  • The underlying roots keep it going and growing.
  • A tree doesn’t resist change – it goes with the flow.  It exists to continue, and it inherently adapts. 

I also loved the idea of having words of inspiration intergrated into the graphic of the tree’s leaves but what words would be right: inner/interior/physiological/chemical/process/photosynthesis?

This lead me to think about Cristina’s mission statement for the studio, “Be Hot Yoga Atlanta: Improving Our Students’ Lives.”

But this statement wasn’t quite right for a t-shirt to be worn by our students, so I started playing with the perspective a little. 

Also, I love the concept of the Power of 1.  It’s one of my favorite books of all time: The Power of One.  Slowly but surely there... in the intersection of ideas and inspiration, the copy for our new t-shirt was born:

One Posture | One Breath | At a Time.

Hang on, not so fast, it wasn’t settled yet.  I asked for feedback.  Boy did I get it!  Other people’s ideas were offered in abundance:

How about having your logo written in the leaves?  What happened to Cristina’s mission statement?  Shouldn’t “One Breath” come before “One Posture,” because we always start with breathing?

I have to admit the last comment made me pause, maybe I should switch up this order...  Finally I decided it was important – in the t-shirt design and in yoga – for the breath to remain in the center. After all, it’s the breath that calms and balances.  When I teach I’m constantly reminding my students to to breathe, “don’t hold your breath... breathe through your nose... longer exhales...”  As Eckhart Tolle says, “one conscious breath is like a mini-meditation.”

To add to the mix there was some debate about how to best depict the roots of the tree.  The artist gave us four options.  One of these options was a straight line, to symbolize our yoga mats.  But the more I looked at the fourth option – the line with a little bump, the more I liked it.  Aren’t we all trying to find balance in an unbalanced world?  Is any path truly straight?  Don’t we often feel a little off kilter?  And thus, the roots/yoga mat of our tree/yogi was chosen!

The graphic (pictured here) is our final design.  I hope you love it as much as I do.  T-shirts go on sale at the front desk today!

Whether you decide to buy a t-shirt or not, next time you are in tree pose take a moment to ponder what it means to you... 

You are at the end of your standing series.  You have strived in Standing Bow.  Endured in Separate Leg Head to Knee.  Consciously (and unconsciously) you’ve been breathing while observing yourself in stillness.  And now with the last standing pose you have come back to yourself in the mirror.  One posture, one breath at a time.