I’ve practiced yoga on and off for a good number of years now. The vast majority of my instructors have been female, with a few notable male exceptions. In the film Yogawoman, the main controversy presented is that yoga was originally an art form practiced by and taught by men.
Given my personal context of yoga, I found that this controversy didn’t resonate and therefore wasn’t the most interesting part of the film. Maybe it’s just that I am spoiled to live in a day and age when yoga, at least in the United States, is dominated by women. For that, perhaps I owe a debt of gratitude to some of the women whose stories are featured in the movie, like Indra Devi, Patricia Walden, Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, and others.
That being said, Yogawoman thoroughly addresses all the ways yoga can positively impact the life of the modern woman. It examines issues such as dealing with cancer, eating disorders, infertility, and depression, as well as how adding yoga to your schedule can actually help you better handle an over-booked, over-stimulated lifestyle. Sections of the film also addressed yoga for special populations, such as the incarcerated and the severely overweight.
The movie flows from the history of yoga, to the passing of yoga into the hands of women, to how yoga itself has been transformed by the fact that women are now practicing and teaching it around the world. One notable example of this in the film was the story of Geeta Iyengar, daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar, who took her father’s teachings and applied them to women’s issues like pregnancy and menopause.
For people who follow yoga, many of the people interviewed in the movie will be familiar to you, as it features fifty different subject matter experts. On the Yogawoman website, you can see the full list of people interviewed and featured. There is also a good amount of fascinating archival footage in the film, ranging from yoga being practiced by men in India to B.K.S. Iyengar instructing classes.
If you are already a yoga practitioner, then you will likely enjoy this movie, as it will reinforce your experience and opinion of the benefits of yoga. If you have only dabbled in yoga, then you may find the movie interesting and you may learn some new aspects of the practice you hadn’t thought about before – or it may just seem like a really long, albeit highly pleasant yoga commercial. If you are not a fan or practitioner of yoga, then this movie isn’t really for you.
For me, the most interesting part of this movie wasn’t the narration by Annette Bening, the famous yogis, or the controversy on which sex yoga belongs to. Rather, I found the idea that women influenced and evolved yoga – that it went the other way – to be interesting. It isn’t just yoga impacting people’s lives, but people’s lives changing the practice of yoga. And, ultimately, if yoga can help you lead a more fulfilled, realized, and authentic life, it doesn’t matter what you look like, where you live, or even what sex you are.
“Yogawoman” is available on DVD for $24.95 and on BluRay for $34.95 at Yogawoman.tv.