We’ve all heard about Yoga, it's many benefits, and we all have a little idea about its history . . . But what do we know, exactly, about yoga ? One thing is for sure, it’s an EXPERIENCE, and it’s different for everyone. You, me, everyone is YOGA if they want to.
Whether you’re passionate about Yoga or just want to know more about this practice and its many benefits, and how it’s changed the lives of many, this Worldwide Lockdown is the perfect time to catch up on the many documentaries made about this ancient practice. And guess what? We’ve made a list of the top ones for you, so pop some corn and let’s get busy!
Iyengar: The man, yoga, and the student's journey
Filmed before he passed away in 2014, this documentary portrays B.K.S Iyengar, the creator of this type of yoga credited by many as “life-transforming”, and centres on Iyengar's teachings and the holistic methods at the core of his practice. Even during his 90s, Iyengar still demonstrated extraordinary flexibility and discipline.
Women of Bhakti
Ever heard of the Women of Bhakti ? In Sanskrit, the original language of Yoga, Bhakti means “Devotion”, making “Bhakti Yoga” the Yoga of Devotion.
Producer Jahnava Hausner and award-winning filmmaker Hilary Tapper take viewers on an extraordinary journey into the lives of historical and modern devotees of bhakti yoga. Women of Bhakti, shot in India and America, is an artistic and entertaining film that gives viewers an enlightening understanding of the bhakti, or devotional, tradition and its relation to modern yoga practice. Yoginis, swamis, and scholars share their valuable knowledge, wisdom and experience of bhakti, and in doing so they guide us into the temple of our hearts where the natural inspiration for service, truth and love reside.
I am Maris
At 17, Maris Degener is a yoga teacher, a writer, and a survivor. After suffering from anxiety, depression and life-threatening anorexia nervosa, Maris finds her own path to healing and self-acceptance. Through fearlessly authentic testimony, personal artwork and poetry, and a devoted yoga practice, she travels from despair to inspiration.
PS. It’s available on Netflix!
Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator
Bikram Choudhury was at the forefront of popularizing yoga in North America and around the world. An Indian immigrant with a Beverly Hills base, Choudhury was a born entertainer, known for dressing in nothing more than a black speedo and a Rolex. His teaching style was tough love sprinkled with salty language and punctuated by spontaneous bursts of singing. His followers hailed him for helping them to gain confidence, lose weight, and overcome physical ailments through his specialty of hot yoga. He built a franchise empire with hundreds of Bikram studios around the world.
Filmmaker Eva Orner traces Choudhury from his rise in the 1970s to his disgrace in accusations of rape and sexual harassment in more recent years.
PS. It’s available on Netflix!
Awake: The Life of Yogananda
This documentary is an unconventional biography about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today. (Apparently, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad.) By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today.
Enlighten Up - A skeptic’s journey in to the world of yoga
Film-maker Kate Churchill is determined to prove that yoga can transform anyone. Nick Rosen is skeptical but agrees to be her guinea pig. Kate immerses Nick in yoga, and follows him around the world as he examines the good, the bad and the ugly of yoga. The two encounter celebrity yogis, true believers, kooks and world-renowned gurus. Tensions run high as Nick's transformative progress lags and Kate's plan crumbles. Ultimately, what they find is not what they expected.
Harnessing the colorful commentaries of the most prominent yoga scholars, teachers and medical experts, Yoga Unveiled reveals how yoga began. It tells the story of yoga’s passage to the West, describes its numerous branches, recounts the fascinating biographies of the foremost yoga masters, and explores yoga’s astonishing medical potential.
Stunning cinematography, ornate visual displays, and stirring music create a truly enchanting viewing experience. The great devotees of yoga grace the screen with their profound wisdom and austere manner. Learn more: yogaunveiled.com
Kumare is a wise guru from the East who indoctrinated a group of followers in the West. Kumare, however, is not real--he is the alter ego of American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi, who impersonated a spiritual leader for the sake of a social experiment designed to challenge one of the most widely accepted taboos: that only a tiny "1%" can connect the rest of the world to a higher power.
Concealing his true identity from everyone he meets, Kumare forges profound and spiritual connections with people from all walks of life. At the same time, in the absurdity of living as an entirely different person, Vikram, the filmmaker, is forced to confront difficult questions about his own identity. At the height of his popularity, Kumare unveils his true identity to a core group of disciples who are knee-deep in personal transformation.
Will they accept his final teaching? Can this illusion reveal a greater spiritual truth? KUMARE, at once playful and profound, is an insightful look at faith and belief.
After becoming a devotee in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Klein traveled the world to explore how yoga has affected others. From a charter school in South Central Los Angeles to wrestler Diamond Dallas Page's yoga class for American soldiers in Iraq, Klein reveals how this ancient practice continues to bring harmony to the world.
Ayurveda: The Art of Being
Filmmaker Pan Nalin explores Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga, and the traditional Hindu system of medicine practiced in India for centuries. A fascinating film that will have you rethink our day to day lifestyle.
+ Account Manager in a past life, Marine used to overthink every detail, wanting her work (and life) to be as perfect as shown on social media. After being diagnosed with Endometriosis and undergoing 2 surgeries, she had her wake-up call. She quit her corporate career and took her 8 years of yoga practice to the middle of the Moroccan Atlas Mountain… for a 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training. This changed her outlook on her illness, happiness, and the life events she thought had changed her forever. Above all, it changed her overall view of life and the various ways to heal. Upon becoming certified, she made it her mission to try and share her experience and knowledge acquired to help other men and women suffering from depression and chronic illnesses.
+ French speakers, head over to her Instagram account for free live Yoga classes and guides.