The Urban Yoga: Finding Balance in Modern Cities (PHOTOS)

Samantha Allen
The Urban Yoga: Finding Balance in Modern Cities (PHOTOS)

When yoga instructor Anja Humljan began her studies as an architect, she noticed something big missing from traditional building design: an intuitive connection between urban spaces and the people who inhabit them each day.

“We were dealing mostly with geometry and function,” she explains on her Kickstarter page, “whereas the subtle aspects of space: multisensory bodily experience and keen intuition remained unresolved.”

Credit: Daily Mail Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

To explore the possibilities for intuition and connection in urban design, Humljan embarked on a remarkable project called The Urban Yoga.

While her gravity-defying photos aren’t strictly yoga, her endeavor to find balance between inner experiences and physical surroundings embody yoga’s spirit of balance and unity.

Credit: Daily Mail Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

Humljan’s The Urban Yoga photo book uses stunning visual images to show how we inhabit the world, unconsciously changing our bodies and minds to fit into our surroundings.

Traveling from New York, to Paris, to Madrid, to Ljubljana in Slovenia for her photo shoots gave her the opportunity to explore all types of urban environments and their effects on the mind and body.

Credit: KickStarter Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

In this series, Humljan twists her body to fit into dense, vertical urban spaces like the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City, pictured above. She uses unlikely props, like scaffolding and even an old basketball hoop in Madrid, to illustrate the experience of moving through a dense urban space.

Credit: Daily Mail Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.
Credit: Daily Mail Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

These images contrast sharply with the photos taken in more naturalistic urban environments, such as the photo below, which was taken at a park in Ljubljana. Instead of molding herself around a dense urban center, Humljan allows her whole body to expand and take up space in these photos.

Credit: Design Boom Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.
Credit: Design Boom Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

Whether she’s twisted around scaffolding or stretched out beside a body of water, this project isn’t about setting one type of urban experience above another.

Instead, Humljan seeks to demonstrate how all types urban environments can foster harmony between the individual and the city when we surrender ourselves to a full sensory experience of our surroundings.

Credit: Daily Mail Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

While Humljan’s series is part yoga experiment and part art project, The Urban Yoga Photo Book is also an architectural manifesto. Her new Kickstarter-funded book and ongoing The Urban Yoga project advocates for a new school of architectural design that centers around the human experience.

Credit: Kickstarter Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.
Credit: Kickstarter Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.

You can read more about her project in her own words at The Urban Yoga or on her Kickstarter page. The Urban Yoga Photo Book will be available in print and PDF formats this coming March.

Which gravity-defying pose is your favorite? Does this project make you rethink your relationship with your own urban environment?

Image Credit: Jaka Vinsek/Mercury Press & Media Ltd.