When was the last time you touched a tree under the pouring rain and felt the power of the earth below you, the sky above you, and the immense fire within you? Where you felt both immensely small and yet so very big. Yoga photographer Patricia Pena takes us along on her journey to O'ahu, Hawaii for a magical behind the scenes look at her shoot for Spiritual Gangster.
Day 1: Seeking Magic Hour at Sunset.
Our tribe of Spiritual Gangsters are off to catch the last rays of daylight during the magic hour. Nestled amongst houses in an affluent neighborhood, the entrance to China Walls is an unmarked stone entrance over-hung with lush green vines. Following two local fisherman down a muddy rock path, we come upon an ethereal view of the sunset reflected in the natural tide pools.
Surrounded by ocean and ominous clouds, we marvel at how perfect this moment is, even, and especially, through the chaos of the oncoming storm. The sky is perfect. The light is perfect. Even the way the waves soaked us was perfect. In that moment, we felt so connected to mother earth, to our friends, and to ourselves.
Day 2: Hanauma Bay Magic
We meet near Hanauma Bay, drive around the bend, and park at Kahauloa Cove. The sun peeks in and out of the clouds as we begin day two of our shoot. This is one of my favorite spots in Honolulu- it holds a very special place in my heart. It was an honor to shoot here and see the natural beauty around us - from the waves crashing against the rocks, the sky around the mountains, and the rush of the bright and powerful wind. It's a place that makes you feel truly alive, a place that makes you want to stay forever.
As we climb to the highest point of the cove, we're sprayed by the ocean waves as our models Tara and Juri try not to get blown away. Time seems to stand still as yogini Naomi holds Side Crow with ease as the waves crash around her. Naomi is fully present and connected to her breath - she keeps herself centered and balanced as she embraces the playful and adventurous spirit of the moment. It was a reminder to take things in-stride when the ground beneath you isn’t so smooth.
Day 3: Seeking Sukha and Sunshine.
One of the best things about island living are the beaches. The beaches are a vision of soft white sands and warm cerulean blue waters. Being on the beach, we embrace the Hawaiian lifestyle of living with "Sukha" or to live with ease.
Sukha meditation: Close your eyes and go within, smell and taste the salt-air, and finally match your breath to the rhythm of the waves crashing on the shore. Inhale deeply and exhale even deeper. Let go. This is Sukha.
Day 4: Seeking Dry Surroundings and Calm Winds.
Tara and I drive to the bamboo fields off the Pali Highway. As we park, the wheels begin to spin and kick up mud. The rain has made the area impassible. O’ahu has endured the remnants of a tropical storm for three days now. The palm trees bend from side to side. It is literally raining sideways and the island is an epic shade of green. The ground beneath us is slippery from all the rain and our shoes get stuck three inches deep in mud. It's a no brainer- we head back to the car in search of drier land.
We end up in the middle of a forest among hundred year old trees completely soaked by the rain. The roots are entangled with each other and the earth. As we forage for a place to shoot, I lean on the trees. I feel their Mana. In Hawaiian culture, Mana is a form of a spiritual energy that exists in places, objects and people. It seriously is magical. That cleansing and healing energy that lives on this island comes from the trees, the earth, the ocean, the sky, and the people. Everything I seek is here in O’ahu: adventure, love, peace, balance, fun, creativity, and healing. O’ahu cracks me open in the best way every time. I feel more deeply. It’s cleansing. It’s powerful. What I seek is seeking me in true Spiritual Gangster form.
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