Yoga Practice, Architect’s Practice

Focus on the details lets you soar.

Recently I went to an Arm Balance Workshop at a yoga studio (that I happened to have designed). The 2 1/2 hour workshop was geared toward a fairly advanced level of practice and there were quite a few instructors taking the workshop. Arm balances are some of my favorite poses to do, so I was particularly interested to see how a full class would be devoted to them. You don’t just start a class with advanced poses; there is a process of getting both your body and your mindset ready for the exertion. A good teacher has the final goal in mind as he or she takes the class through a sequence of poses that stretch and strengthen the right muscles, highlight specific body alignments, and prepare a mental focus for that ultimate challenging pose.
Christina Helms of Three Birds Yoga, Florham Park, NJ, demonstrates astavakrasana (Eight Angle Pose)

I left the class invigorated and inspired, and later thought about how this process works in a similar way to achieving increasing levels of achievement as an architect. Architects don’t come out of school with the skills and experience needed to design challenging projects- it takes years of nailing the basics and growing into the role.

Back at my regular yoga studio the following week (where I usually take an advanced class) I attended an all-levels class. An easier class like this is a great time to focus my attention towards the best possible expression of each movement. Even if the poses themselves aren’t challenging, there is always room to improve and finesse the basics.
That teacher of this all-levels class happened to be a fellow student in my regular advanced class, and when it was over he came up to me, saying he hoped I wasn’t bored in the class. I replied that in fact I enjoyed it immensely, and that not every class has to kick butt!

And so it is with many of my architectural projects. Even smaller and more straightforward projects present opportunities to fine tune my skills, explore a new design idea or discover a new material that adds to my palette for the future. They strengthen the muscles I need to do the more complex projects in a successful way.

p.s. I did get into the pose in the photo!