This film is an American yogini’s look at what . . . YOGA IS. I guess you can say it is the documentary to the personal bio of Eat, Pray, Love. It features all the big names of the American yoga industry (and fashion world – ok let’s just say it – celebrities) with a few glaring omissions.
Some of these people have been on magazine covers for years and are featured at every yoga conference around the US. I suppose that’s how she might have initially got exposed to yoga and what these teachers teach. These teachers are the ‘Stars’ of yoga. Celebrities in the Yoga world (North American and some Europe).
I only watched the trailer and it seems it is saying the same things that are always said – “the world needs yoga now more than ever before.” (why? do you think we’re in more turmoil now than a decade ago? 50 years ago? 100 years ago? I would say the exact opposite!) “Yoga is connection.” – Connection is yoga. Yoga means connection. Same word. “You can find your True Self.” That is true – yet I have a feeling that what they’re talking about is asana-centric – yet again. Really – I wonder . . . without asana practice would these teachers be as popular? Would they understand their True Self without it?
I ask this question, because I do question the emphasis on the physical practice in all of the yoga movies/docs that come out and in our interpretation of yoga and how we tend to talk about it. Could we talk about yoga without talking about asana? Georg Feuerstein, states as it was told to him through his guru and his own practice that “Everything must be dropped. All philosophy, all practices must be let go of in order to realize YOGA.” They haven’t done that yet.
I feel there is nothing being said that hasn’t been said before – not that in our yoga practice there is anything new to talk about because they got it right the first time. But I mean in depth of understanding that is beyond words . . . I don’t hear it from any of these teachers. I’m not sure that “Yoga tastes good” says it for me or helps in any way. In fact it’s a bit of a throw away. Yoga tastes good – what the hell does that mean?
The general public are routinely lulled into believing that their True Self is the self that can do postures well, or at least advance in them. Or when you sit in a serene and lovely place with a small smile on your face is connecting with your True Self. Or you’re there because you always laugh after you say something non-sensical. That is not what yoga is about to me. It is not how nice you are. Nor is it how calm and relaxed you are. Or is it how well you do the postures, how good you look in them or how many you can master within this life time. Yoga is a state of being. So I look inward for the truth.
The ‘practices’ of yoga: asana, meditation, selfless work, pranayama, studying, sitting with your guru, are all to either discipline the body and mind or they are to expose the truth of who you think you are by bringing you to such a state of vulnerability that none of the defenses, identities, or attachments you have built up or clung to over the years can survive. In this work it’s about rebuilding not fortifying. Therefore, the Self is beyond all the idiosyncratic behaviors we manifest in our practices, in our lives. It is there – yoga IS when all of this halts; When it stops being about you.
Yoga is simply there whether you know it or not. The practices, whatever they are, were devised to open you up to seeing this: To take the veil away, to peel the onion, to burn you up, etc. . . . Once you see it, you have no need for all the other stuff. They are practiced to maintain connection; to maintain Yoga because in our fast paced, cold, calculated, threatening world the connection can be lost easily – just ask anyone coming back from a meditation retreat.
I do hope that the movie is better than the trailer. If it is, then the trailer does not do it justice – to me anyway.
In Yoga, you eventually become your own guru. This film is for those who are still actively seeking outwardly. I guess I have moved beyond needing to look outward to find inspiration. I don’t need to hear this stuff anymore from these teachers or these celebrities. The student has become the teacher.
I do acknowledge and respect my teachers I was exposed to during my decades of practice. Without them, I would not be able to be my own teacher. I have to say though, in all honesty, the teacher that taught me the most and whom I still see on occasion, doesn’t even do asana, and has a rich deep practice that is filled with Divine Inspiration and Deep Connection. I honor him and thank him.
I thank all of them.