Watch: Bushwick Yoga Flow - 'Doing Yoga in Uncomfortable Places'

Mat or no mat. Shoes or no shoes. Pants or no pants. Yoga or not yoga.

I’m not a believer in having to have the perfect setting, perfect mat, or perfect outfit to be able to move. Of course it’s much easier to balance on a wooden floor and bend in a heated hot yoga room, but neither is necessary to be able to do yoga. All yoga is good yoga, whether you do it in your room, on a beach, or on top of a bus.

Taking your yoga practice outside of the regular yoga studio setting is fun! It’s also weird, uncomfortable, and sometimes scary. It can be frustrating to find out you can’t do the same pose you do every day during class when you’re outside in the park; or that the balancing poses that you’ve “mastered” are all of a sudden terrifying now that you’re attempting them outside the yoga studio. These poses should be part of us, so why should we only be able to do them when we’re on our fancy non-slip yoga mats?

Doing yoga in uncomfortable places forces you to focus. You really have to shut down whatever is happening around you and get in your body. You have to figure out how to adjust your bones to an irregular surface and find out which muscles to use to grip the floor and maintain the balance. You also have to stop caring, and that’s pretty cool. You have to stop carrying about who’s watching, if what you’re doing looks cool or not, or whether you’re gonna get dirty or going to fall. You’ll probably get dirty, you’ll definitely fall a few times, but at some point you’ll be able to stop thinking and realize, “Oh my god I cannot believe I’m actually balancing here.” It’s a cool feeling.

The first time I tried practicing outside it was for a photography project with a friend. I was covered in paint and was super excited thinking this would be so fun, but when I started trying to do my poses I realized I couldn’t hold any of them. Not a single one. I was so frustrated. I had been doing these poses every day but still the more I tried the more I failed. I learned so much that day. I realized yoga is far from a performance. You have to focus and you have to feel the poses. I also realized I needed to do this more often. Since then I’ve done yoga in some uncomfortable and sometimes strange places: benches, curved surfaces, tables, dirty streets, a mechanical room, on the park while people play ball games, and recently on top of a bus. Sometimes I get terrified and am not sure I will actually be able to do anything, but when I know that my body can do the shape I just have to tell my mind to shut up and not pay attention to the fear. Focus, feel my muscles, feel my bones, and do it.   

The yoga journey is all about transformation and constant growth. Practicing in unconventional places has been a big challenge but has also made my practice so much stronger. It’s hard to do yoga when you know you’re being watched, but it’s also amazing to see yourself move past that and be able to get into a deep meditation no matter where you are or who is around. I believe that we should be able to do the poses we’ve achieved anywhere and at any time. It’s a great test of focus. If you feel like moving you move, where you happen to be at the time is irrelevant.

About the Filmmaker 

Alex K. Colby is a rapid response filmmaker, creating visceral and emotive films that are fueled by the energy of the people and world around him. Rather than shooting from the sidelines, he becomes part of what he is filming, allowing viewers to feel like they are witnessing the magic of the moments captured as if they were there. Alex has lived in Brooklyn for the past 5 years and has traveled the world shooting and directing commercials and short documentaries. His main love is to evoke emotion with every film he creates.

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Born and raised in Ecuador, Nikki is a certified Vinyasa teacher who appreciates hot yoga and participated in the USA Yoga Asana Championship. She works full-time as a New York-based interior designer and Vinyasa teacher.