Yoga Diaries: Fueled by Photographs, Riding Motorcycles through the Americas

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Arielena “Lana” Reed is packing up and leaving San Antonio on Nov. 14. Only two weeks ago, The Rivard Report featured a slide show of Reed’s titled, “Yoga in Unusual Places” that generated intense interest and admiration. Then the young yoga teacher and talented photographer told me she is leaving and probably not coming back. That’s bad, right?

Not necessarily so. Reed is doing what every 24-year-old with wanderlust ought to do: She’s seeing the world before career or family exert gravitational pull. Reed has journeyed to Africa, Asia and south of the border. Her penchant for travel is what brought the Chicago native to San Antonio in the first place, in the company of a now ex-boyfriend she met while studying Spanish in Cholula, Puebla.

Reed is the kind of young, creative individual San Antonio is working hard to attract. As more people like her make the city home, it’s evident, both anecdotally and from population studies, that the community of young, talented creatives ebbs and flows, some leaving even as others arrive to take their places

Reed in Lesotho, AFrica summer of last year. Photo by Caitlin Reed..

Viewing her portfolio before we met, I was surprised to learn later that Reed had only been in San Antonio for a few years. She spent one year studying at the Ester Vexler Yoga School located within Two Hearts Yoga on McCullough Avenue in Olmos Park to earn her teaching certification. Then the newly graduated yoga teacher was struck with a bold idea to marry her passion for yoga with her passion for photography. Reed convinced one yogi after another to pose in public places unique to San Antonio. Word spread and others agreed to pose. The results are stunning, and together, the many images accomplish what otherwise hadn’t yet occurred in San Antonio: the growing community of yoga teachers and practitioners was connected through a shared experience.

The poses take place atop the Maverick Building, alongside a white horse pulling a downtown carriage, in the shaded exterior of the Central Library, alongside a historic San Antonio mission, and another outside an H-E-B. Reed obviously developed a nuanced appreciation for the city’s rooftops, archways, textures, colors and shadows.

“Yoga and photography are things I completely love, am truly passionate about and make me ridiculously happy, and I think that comes across to people when I tell them about my project,” Reed said when I asked her how she convinced so many yoga devotees to pose in such high profile places. “The San Antonio yoga community is at a pivotal point in its growth, so people were more open enthusiastic about creating a community.

” ‘Yoga in Unusual Places’ was an opportunity for yogis to share what they love with others,” Reed added, “and each shoot took them off that mat to somewhere strange, where they were confronting a new challenge — doing yoga out of their comfort zone without a mat on hard, dirty ground and with people staring at them.

Reed in the cockpit of the Air Force cargo plane, July 2012 at Lackland Air Force Base. Photo by Amy Tullis.

“Challenging yourself is a huge part of what yoga is all about, and for many people, each shoot was a chance to celebrate how far they have come and grown in their yoga journey. Everyone that participated came to me by word of mouth or saw the pictures and contacted me. I also have to give credit to Jane Goldstein, a fantastic yoga teacher and owner of Two Hearts Yoga Studio, who has inspired and encouraged me with each wonderful heartfelt class. She has supported the project since it began and gave me a wall where I could put up 4×6 pictures of the project for people to watch it grow.

“As for talking my way into places, I adopted the ‘it’s easier to ask forgiveness than ask permission’ motto, and when confronted, I have just explained the project and was super friendly with a big smile. Then the yoga fascinates and distracts them and they forget they want to kick us out. Hahaha.”

Here are 12 additional photographs to complement the images we featured a few weeks ago.
(Lana’s story continues below gallery.)


Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Reed had another reason to build a powerful portfolio. The images are helping underwrite her next great adventure. We visited in her simple Monte Vista apartment recently, where she told me about raising money for her next adventure abroad. Many of the yogis who posed for her donated between $20-100, and others bought prints. Beginning Oct. 17, Reed’s work will be the subject of an exhibition at Hausmann Millworks, a gallery and creative space on West Russell Place in Alta Vista. Sales of photos from the exhibition and Reed’s website will help build her modest travel fund.

Reed’s great adventure is what distinguishes her from others her age with a backpack and a restless yearning. Reed is undertaking  an 8,000 mile, one-year sojourn through the Americas on a small Honda 125 motorcycle. She’ll have to ride over the Andes and mountain passes where the air is thin and snow and storms can descend with the speed of lightning. More than few of the countries have emerged from years of civil war but are still plagued by banditry and rampant. Then there’s Mexico and the drug cartels.

“San Antonio is a beautiful place and things are changing here, but there’s so much for me to see elsewhere,” Reed told me. “When you stay in one place for a long time it becomes easy to lose perspective about what you really like and want to experience in life. The day-to-day stuff wears you down.”

Reed has relatively little money, no exact itinerary and no idea of what awaits her at journey’s end. On the other hand, she

Lana Reed. Photo by Stephanie Carter.

speaks good Spanish, has traveled widely for her age, and is well-grounded, fiercely independent and self-reliant. I’ve asked her to report on her journey from time to time on The Rivard Report readers, in words and images, as she comes north from Santiago to San Salvador. She’s thinking about it.

Reed won’t be going alone. She has a boyfriend who has agreed to come along. Reed and Justin Burklow, an Austin native and graduate of the University of Incarnate Word, met salsa dancing at Arjon’s International Club one night about a year ago. How serious is their relationship? Burklow is leaving his job at Gunn Nissan so he can go with her. He’s repaid his college loans and has saved enough to buy his own Honda 125 in Chile, where they will purchase bikes and begin their epic ride.

“She talked me into it,” Burklow said. “The idea is to cover as many countries as possible. Lana is one of those people who do not like to plan thing out. Unlike me, but I’m just going with the flow.”

Burklow, also 24, shares an unsatisfied desire to see the world.

“I graduated from college and was one week from leaving for China, where I had lined up a job to teach English,” he said, “But the government closed down the school.” Burklow missed his chance and went to work to repay his loans.

“This trip will be slow going, we’ll have to do things like adjust carburetors for altitude changes when we go over mountains,” he said. “We’ll have to change oil on the road, and deal with extreme weather. We’ll be on the road for one year, and when we find somewhere we’d like to stay and work, we’ll look into that.”

The ultimate challenge will be the Darién Gap in Panama, a 4,500 square mile, rain-swept wildscape of tropical forest, waterways, savannah and Pacific Ocean shorelines, a vast expanse passable only by boat and off-road vehicles and borders. The region is thinly populated by the splintered descendants of indigenous groups and slaves. Motorcycles are best ferried north to Central America.

“We’ve left it to prayer,” Burklow said with the understated fearlessness that characterizes both he and Reed as they finalize plans to head south.

“People who donate often tell me that I am doing something they wish they could do,” Reed said.

Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Yoga Diaries: Fueled by Photographs, Riding Motorcycles through the Americas

  1. Bravo! As much as we want to attract young talent, I’d rather see that “young talent” explore the world before settling in any one place, if indeed they ever settle. What a wealth of experience they will bring to San Antonio should they eventually decide to return here.

    I was once that 20-something filled with wanderlust, and used it to take me around the world. When I came to SA in my early 30s, I was still travelling – spending most of my time, while based in SA, working in Thailand. Eventually I settled here (tho, 10 years on, expect it to not be forever). San Antonio needs people who are worldly wise.

  2. I have the blessing of knowing Lana from church…when I met her, I knew there was something pretty amazing about her. She quickly became friends with another young girl by meeting her online through a website…I thought to myself…wow, I wish I had that kinda courage. When I heard she was going to be doing this trip…I had no idea that she would be gone for a year…and maybe never even return to San Antonio. I remain inspired by her creativity, her genuine kindness for everyone she meets, and her free spirit. Thanks Lana, for always being so positive and encouraging me to believe that I could succeed at doing yoga…even when I felt I couldn’t! Peace and blessings!

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