On The 3rd Eye, Photography & Images of Yoga

In the last couple of years I’ve been diversifying my regular fitness regime, adding qigong and now yoga to my regular Pilates sessions. A few weeks ago I decided to try a different yoga class called Pranayama which was totally new to me.  As the session began the covering teacher asked us to breathe in and exhale through the 3rd eye. I had no idea how to do this, despite being familiar with its visual representation. The 3rd eye is associated with intuition and spiritual enlightenment, and is the 6th of the seven energy Chakras, a system derived from an ancient Hindu texts. But it did give me the idea to try and locate any photographs I’d taken involving a 3rd eye and to relocate and reassess my yoga inspired images. I’m often drawn to representations of eyes in my street wanderings; on advertising, billboards and other found imagery. Many of my street abstracts include this motif. Sometimes I frame it so it is a single, all-seeing eye, and it is usually one of a pair.  A few months ago I’d taken a photograph in Bologna that features a weathered terracotta facade with a No Parking sign, graffiti, and striking street art on a corrugated garage door. The depicted face and neck – reminiscent of a sculptural bust – has a 3rd eye in the centre of its forehead:

Here’s another image featuring the 3rd eye – this time the East Village in New York. I think the artwork is no longer there – this photo was taken in 2017:

NYC mural featuring man with turban and third eye

Also in New York back in 2016  I saw what for me was a surreal sight of a crowd of tightly packed people doing yoga on a roof terrace in the Meat Packing District:


Closer to home, in 2009 I came across a woman doing a headstand in the snow on Hampstead Heath:

More recently I went with my friend Leah to an organised outdoor yoga session called Pranams for Peace led by global yoga practitioner Shiva Rea in another part of the Heath, Primrose Hill. In the picture below baby twins are joining in the spirit, and the one on the right is doing a convincing transition from plank position to downward dog!

Here’s a portrait of Leah, herself a yoga teacher, stretching her toned yoga arms at a studio in Tufnell Park:

And an old picture – probably dating from the 80s – of my friend Ella in a yoga twist called an eagle pose.  Ella is standing in an alcove at The Hill, a landscaped garden and pergola still referred to as the hidden delight of Hampstead Heath:

And finally, a sticker in the position of a 3rd eye seen on some street art (possibly a young Elizabeth Taylor with a Hitler moustache?) in Swains Lane, Parliament Hill shortly after the EU Referendum vote in June 2016. The sticker says, I’m IN.  Fittingly in these chaotic pre-Brexit days, neither the street art nor the sticker remain …


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