POV

Yoga Globetrotting with Anja Humljan

It is not geometry and function, but subconscious sensory experience that defines most whether we feel good in a certain space.

Photos courtesy of Anja Humljan - Interview by Tiffany Credle
Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Anja Humljan is not your average Yogi, this Slovenian renaissance woman travels the world adding beauty to urban spaces and inspiring others to look at the world around them in a more meaningful way. We are honored that Anja took time out of her busy schedule to share her amazing insight with us.

Citizen Brooklyn: How old were you when you got into yoga?

I was 12 years old when our family friend, a yoga teacher, introduced me to the world of asanas. We were on the seaside, doing yoga in front of our tent. At the age of 18, when my career as a track and field runner came to an end and new focuses and desires arose, I was looking for something that would bring me closer to my body and to who I am, enabling me to reach towards my true potential. I contacted her again and started visiting her yoga classes. She soon taught me how to teach yoga and passed a lot of valuable information and experiences to me. When I was 19 years old I begun subbing her classes and soon I got my own group, I have been teaching yoga ever since. It has been thirteen years now. She is one of the most important people in my life. She did not only teach me yoga, but she taught me how to live: how to conquer, savor and create powerful mosaics from all there is.

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

CBK: What was your motivation for the Urban Yoga Project?

People are increasingly convinced that an urban environment limits our freedom, causes stress and keeps us constantly alert. However, the urban environment should not be regarded as something which disturbs our harmony, but rather as a vital element that contributes to it. The role of an architect is not only to build structures, but also to build bridges between our respected field and the citizens who use our structures on a daily basis, I am doing this with The Urban Yoga. It is not yoga as such, but an architectural experiment changing the way we experience everyday situations if we focus on our body and senses. It is a dialogue between our sensuous body and the contemporary city, advocating architecture that is centered on the human experience. It is inviting architects to design architecture that is not only visually and technologically stunning, but is designed with the human senses in mind. Therefore, the word yoga in the name of the project: Just like in yoga, where your body becomes your special space, every urban environment designed with humans in mind can become a source of positive energy, a place of self-reflection and self-realization. A place that brings you back to the world and towards your own sense of being.

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

CBK: What has been the most surprising part, memory and or encounter while you were doing this project?

When we were shooting in Paris I was holding on to a metal fence and did not notice until the shot was finished that it compressed my finger to an extent that I could not feel it for another two months. I am very focused during the shoot, so as I went to do two other photos that day, one could not notice that I was holding myself only with the strength of one hand. In Madrid, I was hanging from the traffic light and the policeman was regulating traffic next to me. When he was not occupied with his work, he helped us keep the pedestrians away from the shot. In New York for example, people were stopping cars to take pictures of me doing The Urban Yoga and even caused minor congestion, but everyone seemed happy with it.

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

CBK: How has this changed the way you see architecture in urban spaces?

It is not geometry and function, but subconscious sensory experience that defines most whether we feel good in a certain space. Subconscious sensory experience is our first means of communicating with the world. We learn it before the verbal language and we thus, feel very comfortable with it. While moving through a space we subconsciously measure and mimic the space with all of our senses at once, The Urban Yoga photos being a metaphor for this.

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

CBK: What has been the reaction to this series?

People get back to me saying The Urban Yoga Project is changing the way they experience every day situations in a city. It is taking them back to the world and towards their own sense of being: “By acknowledging and savoring the urban environment, it actually felt like getting back to nature.” They say it sets new perspectives on what is important in the urban life, finding new sources of vital and creative energy:

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Before you I saw decay
In urban life I dismayed
I would look to the sky and say
Maybe not today, but I will fly someday

And then one day I saw you hanging
Like some scarce fruit that I had been longing
You united my past with my present
And returned and old old voice that had long been absent

I breathe again, I walk again, I talk again as if with new life
And I blame you happily, joyfully for my crazy spontaneous voice

The moment has ended, a limit is reached and another begun
And in this new infinite moment everything begins and everything is won.”

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

CBK: What has been the most challenging part of working on this project?

Keeping it all together on so many levels and fields: As a young architect, who was intensely involved with yoga and dance, I found it difficult to design space based merely on geometry and function. I felt that focusing on our body and multi-sensory experience could open up new possibilities in architectural design. So, I went to Denmark to study digital design for one semester. Our project, interactive pavilion NoRA, was built at Venice Architecture Biennial. At the age of 23 I was the youngest Slovenian architect having a project exhibited at Venice Architectural Biennial. I began to branch out further, exploring fields that at first glance had no connection with architecture, such as the dynamic relationship between the individual and space through modern dance and ballet. I spent months of study breaks in New York taking master classes with dance companies, such as Alvin Ailey and Complexions. Moreover, learning sound recording, video and photography in Australia for a year, working as voice actor and radio host, instilled in me a subtle sense for the sonic qualities of our contemporary environment. I created a laboratory for experimental architecture called Space Potential. Its goal is to ensure that architecture is not only visually and technologically stunning, but is designed with humans in mind. Architecture that expresses desires not just of the designers themselves, but also of those who use these structures on a daily basis. As a yoga teacher of thirteen years I based my architectural practice on the notion that our guiding principle is to live in harmony with ourselves as well as with the environment – any environment. Thus, cities should not be regarded as something, which disturbs our harmony, but rather as a vital element that contributes to it. With The Urban Yoga I managed to articulate somewhat intangible aspects of architecture, released architectural theory from the confines of enclosed academic environments and presented it in a way so that anyone can understand it, relate to it and furthermore – benefit from it.

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

CBK: What other projects can we expect from you in the future?

In April we are printing The Urban Yoga Photo Book and sending it out to our Kickstarter backers and those who pre-ordered it from our website. There are also some Urban Yoga exhibitions, workshops and photo shoots on the horizon. There is no better time, but spring for a project to start blossoming.

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Courtesy of Anja Humljan

Pre-order the Urban Yoga Project book here.

Follow Anja:

Website: http://www.theurbanyoga.com/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/theurbanyoga

Facebook: https://facebook.com/theurbanyoga

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theurbanyoga

3 Responses to “Yoga Globetrotting with Anja Humljan”

  1. Sanja says:

    Pozdrav Soncu! 🙂

  2. Myron says:

    I very much enjoyed this wonderful interview. Having no knowledge of the concepts of yoga … I was at first drawn only by the stunning imagery. After the interview, I began to see it, within these different settings and environments. It does indeed .. change the whole setting into one of peace and harmony. Thank you for sharing this.

Add your comment