Yoga Illustrations

While we had meetings with Pete and Corri about the Wye Valley yoga project, they would quite often bring up illustrations done by their colleagues in the yoga community.  Yoga teaching is a very visual practice, and it makes me happy that teachers feel confident using their own illustrations to visually communicate and that they understand and eloquently talk about the illustrations of other practitioners. For example, here is the range of illustration – through from pure diagram to a more aesthetically lead design – that can be found over at the wyevalleyyoga Instagram account.

Bobby Clenell was an illustration student who went on to be a professional animator, before he discovered yoga in 1973. What he learnt through yoga influenced his animation as he transitioned over to teaching at the Iyengar institute. After this β€˜transition’, his drawing influenced his teaching style and the way he communicates with his students/audience. I find this multi-disciplinary approach across industries really interesting, because there can be a tension between how we perceive an β€˜artist’ in comparison with other small business people, despite the similarities.

What I have picked up is that in the yoga community, the model for the illustration is important. Most illustrations are recognizable as the people they are of. When I asked Corri and Pete about their poses from the photos, they said it was more important to be true to how they actually looked than it was to be purist about what they were supposed to look like.

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Bobby’s illustrations are very clear and easy to understand in the context of contemporary culture. He achieves depth despite the lack of tonal range. Foreshortening is a challenge with illustrating yoga poses, and overcoming this was what attracted me to the brief. I did experiment with just using block tone, but I felt like this held back my personal illustration style.

Here, Bobby uses arrows to signify movement on a static image. However, what interests me is the detail in the feet. This attention to detail is important in yoga practice, but I found it difficult to emphasise when illustrating full poses, not only the importance of it but also the specificities of what’s going on.