Sturman Photography: Warriors at Ease in Warrior Pose

Elizabeth Howe
October 26, 2018 - 8:51 am

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photography

"I've realized through different projects and humanitarian work that photographs are great inspiration to change the world," said yoga photographer Robert Sturman of Robert Sturman Photographia. "The more people see an idea, an image — images that they can feel — the more it starts to become the new reality."

When it comes to Sturman's yoga photography work with veterans and active military, that new reality is one where practicing yoga — and reaping all the benefits yoga offers — is the norm.

Sturman started practicing yoga to "rewrite the story of what it meant to be an artist."

"As I grew as an artist, I realized that most of my heroes in the history of art lived lives of self-destruction — a lot of heroes who committed suicide, drank too much, had very destructive lifestyles," Sturman said. "They were really important, well-known, celebrated artists. Why aren't they celebrating themselves?"

Soon enough, Sturman's yoga practices led to his yoga photography. 

"It was the most beautiful figurative poetry I'd ever seen — and it tells the beautiful story of a humanity that has hope," Sturman said. "Their hands are in prayer, they're reaching towards the clouds, their hearts are protruding towards the sky. It's a very sacred, beautiful, longing type of human endeavor, and it shows humanity trying to be their best. And that's the story I wanted to tell." 

Following that story of hopeful endeavor has led Sturman into prisons, to communities of Maasai warriors in Africa, to breast cancer survivors and to troops.

"I've developed a name for myself within the military community. I'm a trusted story teller, and it's an honor," said Sturman. "[Yoga] has come a long way in the military...At first the response is 'Whoa, they do yoga in the military? I guess that's okay? Or is that weird?' They see this and they remember it because it's a moving, powerful picture. And then all of a sudden it becomes the new normal. They've become poster images for this whole movement of meditation, mindfulness within the military."

Now, Sturman is approached by active duty and veteran organizations and individuals for photography projects — like his Pearl Harbor Yoga Project with Warriors at Ease.

Warriors at Ease is a 501(c)(3) that started in 2011 to increase awareness about the power of yoga and meditation. Its co-founders were involved in some of the first clinical studies funded by the DoD and the VA to research yoga and meditation as adjunct therapy.

Warriors at Ease and Sturman Photographia collaborated on the project not only to "photograph service members and veterans in some of the most historic locations in modern military history," but to share the stories of these incredible veterans.

Machinist’s Mate First Class​ Preston Tharp

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia

"Yoga is the perfect balance of challenging and relaxing, and after just a few months of regular practice, I started to see benefits in my daily life. My increased flexibility and better balance improved my running, hiking, and overall recovery time. The biggest change was a mental one; I never realized how much negativity I was still carrying from my days on the sub until it started to fade."

Read Preston's full story here.

First Lieutenant Kaitlin Daddona

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia
"As I was learning about the ins and outs of the military – how to shoot a gun, how to march in line, how to obey commands; I was also learning, through yoga, the ins and outs of who I was as a person – how to breathe, how to find comfort in solitude, and how to honor my true self."

Read Kaitlin's full story here.

Senior Airman Kristen Schoeffel

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia
"I joined the military because I love my country, but also because I wanted to bring yoga to the military community. I figured the best way to do it was from the inside. I thought service members would be more comfortable coming to a yoga class taught by a fellow service member."

Read Kristen's full story here.

Captain Enrique Incle, United States Army

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia

"On June of this year I was able to successfully complete my physical fitness examination, to include the run, with no issues. In fact, I achieved the highest score ever in my 18 years of military service. Yoga has been a tremendous source of strength to me."

Read Enrique's full story here.

Hillary Darby, U.S. Navy Commander

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia

"Although efficient and effective from a physical perspective, yoga also created space for mindfulness, reflection and gratitude. It was such a powerful experience, I began sharing the benefits with anyone that would listen, Sailors, Marines, friends and family."

Read Hillary's full story here.

View more albums from this project and Sturman's other projects on his website and Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia

Photo courtesy of Sturman Photographia

Warriors at Ease is a 501(c)(3) organization. This content is not intended to imply endorsement by the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, or any federal entity.  

These images and use of name, rank and branch of service does not imply endorsement by any federal entity.  ​

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