Review by Trisha Lamb
Yoga Studies – The Online Journal of IAYT
Yogins and yoginîs , this is a documentary you must not miss, and it is remarkable that it is so affordable. If I had to summarize this film in one word, it would be, “Wow.”
Through interviews with a broad spectrum of experts, exquisite art and graphics, rarely seen archival footage, just-right music, and beautiful narration, Gita and Mukesh Desai have created a magnificent gift honoring the great tradition of Yoga.
In the first two hours and fifteen minutes, while tracing the history of Yoga from its origins in India to its taking root in America, the film movingly communicates Yoga’s core purpose: transformation and realization. It informs every frame of the film, and that is an extraordinary achievement.
Yoga’s Indic origins and its literature and philosophy are explored via beautiful visual displays and interviews with Yoga scholars and Yoga teachers in the United States and India. Among the scholars are Prof. Edwin Bryant, Dr. M. S. Dhavlikar, Dr. Georg Feuerstein, and Prof. Subhash Kak. The teachers include T. K. V. and Kausthub Desikachar, B. K. S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Swami Tyagananda, Patricia Walden, and Rodney Yee, plus musician Krishna Das.
The film next turns to some of the great yogins and yoginîsresponsible for Yoga’s passage to the West: Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, Aurobindo, Sri Krishnamacharya, and students of Krishnamacharya, including Indra Devi, B. K. S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and T. K. V. Desikachar. Biographies are presented, accompanied by commentary from teachers who studied with these masters. T. K. V. Desikachar reminds us of his father’s prophetic words, “One hundred years from now, people will acknowledge Yoga as the greatest gift from India” ( note: Sri Krishnamacarya [1888-1989] is T. K. V. Desikachar’s father.)
The final hour, titled “Yoga As Therapy,” jumps straight to the present and examines Yoga’s growing contribution to Western medicine. Interviewed are Herbert Benson, M.D., Bernard Clark, M.D., Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., S. V. Karandikar, M.D., Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S., M.S., Timothy McCall, M.D., Dean Ornish, M.D., Mehmet Oz, M.D., Father Joe Pereira, and Martine Ziska, M.D. Each describes the profound positive benefits that Yoga, and in some instances Ayurveda, has brought to their patients. Regarding the recent increase in Yoga research in the West, Dr. Oz indicates that its purpose is not so much to prove that Yoga works (implying that anyone who has practiced it at any length knows that it does), but rather to translate how it works into a language mainstream physicians can understand and thereby make Yoga’s benefits available to a wider audience. Jon Kabat-Zinn beautifully and accessibly explains the purpose and benefits of mindfulness meditation, pointing out that the realization of our true nature brings the ultimate healing from pain and suffering.