Reviewed by Diana Hwang
We all know that yoga is good for us, but do we all really do what is good for us and do we know how and why it works? The inspiring 83-minute documentary film, Yogawoman, which opened in October 2012, and has been available on DVD since late 2011, demystifies the world of yoga and captures the essence of what it means to embrace yoga in one’s life. The DVD is produced by Second Nature Films and Yogakula Productions and narrated by award-winning actor Annette Bening, an avid yoga practitioner herself.
The film’s thesis is that although originally taught by men in India, yoga has transformed into a global phenomenon with women at its backbone. In fact, the film notes that more than 20 million people practice yoga in the United States of which 85 percent are women.
Instead of showing the stereotypical, ultra flexible yogis that can perform acrobatically, the film emphasizes the positive spiritual and health benefits of practicing yoga and highlights feelings of self-esteem, empowerment, confidence and peace one achieves over time. It shows that practicing yoga to nurture one’s health can start at any age. If taught to children, yoga can become a lifelong strategy they use to help calm their active minds and emotions, build self-esteem and become empowered to combat academic and social stresses that are a part of everyday life during their developmental years.
The documentary also covers those viewers that want the facts because it features interviews with integrative medicine doctors that prescribe yoga to patients and innovative researchers that show how yoga is associated with beneficial changes in brain activity.
Throughout Yogawoman, professional discussion about yoga is interspersed with personal stories from ordinary women that believe the practice has made a radical difference in their lives. There are the everyday harried women that practice yoga to balance their spiritual being and health so they can deal with life’s constant whirlwind of work and family pressures. We also meet girls in a juvenile detention center that regularly practice yoga to build self-esteem, confidence and inner strength that will enable them to deal with life’s stresses when they reintegrate into society. Then, we peek in on the group of yoga women that volunteered their time in Uganda to build a women’s center and give back to the community.
The documentary inspires those viewers that open their minds to appreciate how yoga can bring an inner peace to one’s life. By opening the body and relieving stress, yoga allows mental focus, clarity and fulfillment of the heart, resulting in being happier and healthier everyday.
Yogawoman is a reminder to slow down and relax in the face of life’s chaos. It gives women a way to empower themselves, find confidence and nurture their own self-esteem.
The DVD can be purchased at Yogawoman.tv, May 2013.