Yoga documentaries are a really good way to take a better look at this colorful character we call yoga. As a yoga teacher trainer, I am especially grateful for the following resources, most of which I have shown at one time or another at my programs. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but these are some of the best videos to date. My personal favorites are the first three listed.
1. Y Yoga: Filmmaker Albert Klein takes up yoga the week of 9/11, falls in love with it, and goes on to make one of the greatest yoga documentaries to date. This is my personal favorite, and if you only have time for one, this one is it. It’s primarily about the California Yoga scene, but that’s where it all starts anyway.
2. Enlighten Up! A skeptic’s journey into the wide world of yoga. This film is very well put together, and with a lot of colorful characters, like international yoga superstar, Diamond Dallas Page. It is particularly good, I feel, because it raises more questions than it answers. You can watch some of this one on Youtube, and it's full version is on Netflix.
3. Yoga Unveiled: This is a great introduction to the deeper dimensions of yoga, especially the history and philosophy of yoga that often gets neglected. It is perfect to watch at the outset of a yoga teacher training program. You have to pay for this one, though you can find some clips on Youtube.
4. Yoga Woman: Among other things, delves into why yoga is now still primarily practiced by women, even though for most of yoga’s history it was not. I saw this when it premiered on Maui in early 2012. It's not my favorite, but definitely worth your time.
5. Shortcut to Nirvana: It's now been almost 12 years since this film came out, which features the 2013 Kumbha Mela, the largest religious festival in the world, which happens every year in India. So if you want to get some sense of what it's all about before it happens, this is a good place to start.
6. Sita Sings the Blues: This is a brilliant, funny and ironic modern re-telling of the ancient Hindu epic The Ramayana, which relates the possibly tragic story (depending on how you look at it) of Rama & Sita. You can watch this for free online.
7. Titans of Yoga: This documentary is a good introduction to some of the major figures on the contemporary yoga scene. It is helpful to hear what they have to share with us about the yoga journey.
8. Yoga Is: This is a very sweet introduction to the world of yoga. It is one woman's journey while coming to terms with her mother's death from cancer. It is especially good for those new to yoga and is very inspiring.
9. The Soul of India: This is not a yoga documentary per se, as yoga is only touched upon only briefly, yet it gives some very good insight into Mother India, the birthplace of yoga. My students have loved this video Rick Ray also has another great documentary for yoga people called "10 Questions for the Dalai Lama."
10. Ayurveda: The Art of Being: Explore Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, as it has been traditionally practiced in India for centuries. Students have found this to be one of the most fascinating films we’ve shown.
11. Fierce Grace: This is a touching, insightful film about the life and work of Ram Dass, author of the famous book” Be Here Now” and recently featured by Oprah on her online network.
Alan Lowenschuss, BA, MA, eRYT, has been a student of yoga for nearly 18 years, a teacher for 12, HOand is currently the director of Yoga University, an online yoga school. In 2013, Yoga University will be offering 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training programs in Maui (January), Bali (March), and Costa Rica (July). For more information about Alan and Yoga University, please visit:
Website: Yoga University
Facebook: Yoga University
Youtube: Allow Ah Yoga