Urban Embodiment-

 Yoga as psychological architecture 

The Psycho Cities project contrasts yoga poses of psychological significance, with the architecture of major cities.

The aim of the project is to explore psychology, yoga and the urban environment. 

An Embodied Yoga Principles project

 Millennium bridge, London UK

Increasingly yoga is portrayed on exotic beaches or other locations far from our everyday life, and often in a highly sexualised manner. Beauty is used to titillate, gain validation and sell, under a thin spiritual veneer. One aim of this project is to expand the notions of beauty currently portrayed through yoga, and include both modern city environments, and psychological enquiries with a deep resonance. The photos are a starting points for exploration, into the nature of both the poses, and life in well known cities.

The Psycho Cities project contrasts yoga poses of psychological significance, with the architecture of major cities. The aim of the project is to explore psychology, yoga and the urban environment. 

Increasingly yoga is portrayed on exotic beaches or other locations far from our everyday life, and often in a highly sexualised manner.

Beauty is used to titillate
,gain validation and sell, under a thin spiritual veneer. One aim of this project is to expand the notions of beauty currently portrayed through yoga, and include both modern city environments, and psychological enquiries with a deep resonance. The photos are a starting points for exploration, into the nature of both the poses, and life in well known cities.

Some of the poses are matched with the architectural backdrop, others directly contrasted, and some just intuitively juxtaposed. I’ll leave it to you to guess which are which! On one level we have simply tried to make beautiful images, and we’ve also tried to make viewers think about the psychological nature of both yoga asana, and the cities we’ve shot in. More will be added as the project develops.

 

The names of the postures in the Embodied Yoga Principles system (which focuses on yoga in daily life “off the mat”) are given as a starting point. Some will be familiar to all yogis, while others are unique to EYP or taken from other areas such as dance and martial arts

For people new to the Embodied Yoga Principles system this project may also be an interesting introduction to it. The central idea is that postures are not neutral athletic workouts, but point to aspects of our being. Child’s pose and warrior pose for example were not accidentally named, but express different parts of ourselves. Poses can also be consciously used to impact how we are, both in the short and long terms. This is an “embodied” perspective, rather than a merely bodily one. 

 

For those new to the Embodied Yoga Principles system this project may also be an interesting introduction to it. The central idea is that postures are not neutral athletic workouts, but point to aspects of our being. Child’s pose and warrior pose for example were not accidentally named, but express different parts of ourselves. Poses can also be consciously used to impact how we are, both in the short and long terms. This is an “embodied” perspective, rather than a merely bodily one.

Exploring cities with an eye for the psychological impact of buildings and statutes has also been fascinating, and lead me to look at familiar places with new eyes. All three capitals we took pictures in for example could be regarded as “yang” and we found places to match authority and warrior pose for example easily, while locations for the gentler “yin” poses were much harder to find. The EYP poses are essentially archetypal and are usually used as a language to explore individual psychology, but in this case we’ve used them to highlight the psychological environment inhabitants of these cities live in. We’ve disproportionately shown well known locations both for fun and to include those with just a passing familiarity with the locations as tourists. 

I hope the project gives you a fresh perspective on yoga and the world, though most of all I hope you find them beautiful and enjoy them. Feel free to contact me with ideas and feedback. Thanks to all the photographers and volunteers in the photos.  

Mark Walsh, 2018, Brighton UK.

See photos from the cities by clicking on the buttons below.

More cities coming soon