The Australian production,Yogawoman focuses on the explosion of yoga in the west – specifically the United States. The documentary, which begins as a gentle exploration of the genesis of yoga as an activity for men, celebrates the shift towards a women-centric activity that embraces community in such diverse spaces as hospitals and prisons, contributing to health rehabilitation and pre-natal care and as a coping mechanism for daily stress.
Sydney director Kate McIntyre spent three years on the film that traverses nine countries. “We noticed, in the United States in particular, women were not only starting to fill the classes – 85% of classes are made up of women – but the leadership was starting to transform,” she says on the eve of the Melbourne theatrical premiere. “We were so inspired by the amount of energy, enthusiasm and belief that women have. We wanted to weave together the story of how women have taken this original male concept and woven it completely throughout their lives and communities.”
The documentary introduces some of the leading practitioners and writers in what has become a huge industry, particularly in the United States. McIntyre interviews these women extensively, including Massachusetts Iyengar teacher, Patricia Walden who has almost five decades teaching. Other featured yogis include Elena Brower and Seane Corn who is the founder of the non profit organisation, Off the Mat, Into the World. The documentary crew follows Corn and other OTM staff as they travel to Uganda to inaugurate a health centre for HIV positive women.
“We filmed Yogawoman in nine countries because we wanted to have a look at the international aspect of what was going on. Was it just in the first world? Was it upper middle class? Who exactly is doing yoga and how is it working?,” McIntyre reflects. “Some of the “celebrity” yoga teachers have a huge following. They are world recognised, travel all over the world and teach all the time. We felt it was important to interview them. They have a wide audience and have taken yoga to a new level. We were inspired by them and their commitment.”
Yogawoman screens exclusively at Cinema Nova in Melbourne, and at multiple locations in New Zealand with a season at Randwick Cinemas in Sydney is set to follow.
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