Natarajasana, Chorao, Bardez, Goa, India

Photograph by Matthew Parker

There are lots of yoga people in Goa, and many of them are interested in portfolio shots for their practice. I’m not particularly interested in yoga, or portfolios, but I am interested in the landscape, especially away from the tourist areas and around the time of the monsoon. If anything it gives me an excuse to get on my bike before dawn and ride around, a pleasure in itself with or without a camera.

During one particular request for a portfolio it occurred to me that it would be far more interesting to put yoga into the landscape and make it an element rather than the sole focus. Luckily the subject, Karolina, agreed and so we set off on several pre-dawn rides around the north of the state.

Because the idea of the sun is so integral to yoga we wanted all the shots to be at the moment of sunrise. This is one such moment: post monsoon, when everything in Goa is wild and green and fully grown, in the fields and marshland around Chorao Island, a bird sanctuary, swampland and red rice growing area that’s just as Hindu as it is Catholic, packed with exotic birds, snakes and buffaloes (and there’s a good probability there were several snakes, python included, in the field). The light at this moment was incredible, impossible to waste, starting black and changing every second to red, purple, pink and gold, reflecting and rippling in the grass. Five minutes later and the light was completely gone. The image is over the top, but that’s no accident. In this series we agreed to aim for a kind of lurid, cartoonish, pop-art effect, referencing the saturated Hindu religious paintings that depict the adventures of the gods. In the end it’s as much about yoga as it is an exaggeration of reality and a celebration of the infectious colour of India itself.





3 Responses

  1. Maria | Acceleratedstall

    It’s a beautiful portrait… and landscape work you’ve created. Placing yoga into the landscape truly does make it an element – rather than the sole focus and that’s very yogi.

    • Matthew

      Thank you, that’s kind of you to say. After discussion we really did want to get away from the glorification of the asana and let the body “sit”, as it were, in nature. A quick note on Karolina Zakrzewska, the yogini… she really does have an incredible practice (and lots of patience plus a sense of humour) and in some ways this doesn’t do her justice since she was trying to balance in what was essentially a swampy field, with the added threat of snakes and the rapidly changing light, so all this conspired against the best natarajasana she could do. Ultimately I don’t think it really matters, but it’s worth saying.


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