Becoming Involved in Yoga: Day 5

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” – The Bhagavad Gita

Many of my friends and family know I am a yoga practitioner and am striving to become a teacher. I started doing yoga perhaps eight years ago because my roommate didn’t want to do a yoga weight loss video alone. Notes about myself: I am slow to try new things especially if I can’t do them perfectly….. Which is all the time. Humiliation is an ever present omen in my life.

But a funny thing happened. Though I did feel humiliated at my inexperience I felt this strong passion to become better blossom inside me. True story, I continued doing yoga throughout all these years and faced my physical shortcomings.

The challenge of doing the postures and being physically capable of bettering my self became my driving force. Before long, I could move my way through more and more complicated sequences and postures.

This was a very important discovery for me. I realized how much I love pushing and bettering myself. I also started to glimpse a different way of bettering my mind. But as it is I only scratched the surface until this last October when I found my studio here in Provo. At my studio, I realized yoga was not about being perfect. That there was no Paragon I needed to measure up to. I could be happy being myself, moving forward.

You may be wondering why this beginning in yoga is important in regards to discovering my self worth. Well, it was the start of my desire to know myself. I started to look within and see that despite my weaknesses I could become stronger. I could learn more and be mindful of more within.

When practicing yoga it isn’t about the positions or your strength or flexibility. It is about having the courage to see yourself and accept yourself. Granted, it is very hard at times, when even after hard work it seems you can’t progress. But sometimes I feel such peace because I experience myself and I feel I am enough.

(Art by Redbubble)

Yoga is a moving meditation. I also believe it is an invitation to learn more about one’s self. I am grateful because doing yoga has taught me more and more how enjoyable being myself is.

Being on the journey I am now, I am grateful I decided years ago to start doing this. It means I can build a more stable foundation of self love. It also means I have all the tools necessary now to be happy.

Month of Art: Day 19 Ana Juan and the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland Series

(Part of me wonders if I will ever finish my month of art posts. My mind is scattered in SO many directions.) 

For today, I picked an artist deeply connected to my present mood. Born in Valencia, Spain in 1961, Ana Juan has illustrated for magazines like La Luna, Madriz and The New Yorker, storybooks and created worldwide art exhibitions, even as far as Japan for the Kodansha publishing house. In 1998 and 1999 the Society of Newspaper Design gave her a gold medal for her contributions and in 2010 The Spanish Ministry of Culture awarded her the “Premio Nacional de Ilustración”. 

I often wonder how such famous artists slip into my beloved books. This particular children series, written by the phenomenal writer Catherynne M. Valente, has a quirky style. As Neil Gaiman put it, all the books showcase the “glorious balancing act between modernism and the Victorian Fairy Tale” born from her unique cultural background that even extended to her life in Japan. I first read the series four or five years ago and have since fallen in love with her young adult and children’s literature. (Note: I avoid her adult novels as they tend to be very…. Overtly sensual. Ahem.) 

This series is also peculiar because it started as a crowd funded project released online. The first book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making won the Nebula/Andre Norton Award in 2009 BEFORE its official publication. Finally in 2011, after an overwhelming demand for its publication, it was published peaking at #8 on the New York Times Bestselling list. 

The sequels that followed, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Les the Revels There (2012), The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (2013), and The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (2015) met equal praise and adoration from fans of all ages who complimented the series wit and insight into politics, ethics, love and perspective. 

Now to the art. True to the series tone and setting, Ana Juan gave the books an older 1940s look both in their covers and chapter headings. The dimensions of the characters varies but the overall feel remains otherworldly.  Reading the series I felt that Juan had captured how I always imagined places of magic to look and feel. 

Each picture is purely magical to me. They seem to say “come away with us for this is where the magic is”. Something inside me bitterly wishes I could have read these books as a child. I can only imagine myself pouring over the images and dreaming of a never ending Fall. (FYI I love love LOVE everything about Autumn and October. Yet another reason my these books appeal to me so readily.) 

I think that in regards to a book’s ambiance, illustrations pay an enormous part in giving the book’s magic a face to remember. For example, I remember very distinctly each chapter picture in the Harry Potter series and still gush over Alan Lee’s talented visions for Tolkiens Lord of the Rings and other works. MY view of each of these series centered on their illustrations because it brought the book to life. The same definitely applies to these magical books. 

Someday I will talk about them in greater length. But for now, let Ana Juan’s imaginative drawings for Valente’s works be remembered fondly as a doorway into the wonder and enchantment of literature. As always, here are multiple examples of Ana Juan’s works.