This week I was invited down to Nella Yoga at 5504 Troost in the University District of Kansas City, Missouri to do an in- class photo shoot. Shanell Peterson - the owner and head instructor of the studio, put out a call to the yoga community a few weeks back inquiring if anyone knew of a good photographer. I was honored to learn that my name had come up as a recommendation. She was looking to find someone that could capture some good imagery that showed off the diversity of students that generally come in to take classes at her school. During our initial consultation we discussed the misconception that in order to start a yoga practice you have to first be slim, flexible and in great shape. One of the goals we established for this project was to show by example that normal, everyday folks are more than capable of stepping on to the mat and participating in a yoga class. Shanell said she wanted to help dispel the myth that yoga is only for certain body types, genders, or age groups. Because I’m passionate about delivering the same message through my photos, I was excited and honored that the Universe had opened up and provided this opportunity to be of service to showcase a relatively new, community-driven studio that was requesting some promotional help.
Walking into the studio for the first time, I was immediately impressed by how comfortable it felt. Rich, earth tone colors adorn all the walls. The large storefront window faces east, letting in a great deal of rich, natural light. The space exudes positive energy and along with Shanell’s friendly personality, makes for a very welcoming environment to practice yoga. As I worked my way through the class trying to be as unobtrusive as possible with my camera, I also got to experience what it would be like to take a class here. It was immediately evident that Shanell’s a very talented and gifted teacher. She gives clear, concise cues that are easy to follow in a
tone of voice that’s very soothing accentuated by the slight accent she carries from having been born and raised in the U.S Virgin Islands . I especially enjoyed listening to her guided meditation which both started and ended the class. It was hard not to set down my camera, roll out a mat and join in on the journey. Along with leading the class, Shanell spent time individually with each student at some point, providing helpful adjustments and words of encouragement. I love watching passionate teachers practice their craft and even though I was there to take pictures, I walked out knowing that this is a studio I’ll be coming back to – with my yoga mat next time, leaving my camera behind.
See the full gallery of photos from this session here.
*Kansas City is extremely fortunate to have in its midst so many passionate and gifted teachers. One goal I have as a photographer/writer is to get the word out on some of the great resources that are available to our yoga community. If you’d like me to spotlight what you're doing, I'm always looking for new story ideas, contact me here.