“Yoga teaches us how to yoga ourselves”
This documentary had me wondering what it was going to entail. Was it just purely going to be about the ‘form’ of yoga as western coverage of yoga so often is. But I was pleasantly surprised.
The documentary was inspired by photographer Michael O’Neill who as a result of an operation on his neck was told, as can happen, by the surgeon that he would never use his arm again. He served as a contributing photographer to The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Life, the New Yorker, Esquire, Vanity Fair, and Time.
This happened to be the arm that he used to take photographs. So off like many he went to seek an alternative. His came in the form of yoga to heal his ‘spiritual emergency’. This was an odyssey of 20 years where he got to have darshan ‘breath the same air’ of some of the great yogi’s of yoga through photography.
This also seemed to alter his understanding of photography which was up to that point taking shots of famous people which if you talk to real art photographers is an easy thing to do and make a name for yourself from. He seems to have transformed from ‘form’ to ‘substance’ in terms of his photography as a result of this crisis.
What I liked most of about the movie was India and my yearning for this spiritual motherland. India is an interesting nation. Most of its citizens are vegetarian, imagine the greenhouse gas from raising beef to feed the population in India?
There is something about vegetarianism, lots of geniuses were vegetarian.
There is a natural sense of wandering in this documentary which in some ways what India is about for people on a spiritual path – wandering. The wandering yogi, no home, no place, no job, no family – free. Everywhere is home, everyone is family and being is the job, the path.
India as a country just pours inside you. I really liked the way his disease brought him on a journey as it so often does for people. What some descibe as a 'calling'. For him it brought him into contact with different masters and some yogini’s which a lot of the time are underrepresented or ignored in favour of the Guru trip. ‘My Guru is bigger than yours’ nonsense. This was refreshing and for the most part most of the yogini’s were sound, insightful and decent. All too often people who are bat shit crazy are pushed or push themselves to the front row. What you had here were people who for the most part were integrated.
A question was posed by one about whether we should in life be materially or spiritually rich? Well, you can be both but you have to figure it out. You can have nothing like a yogi and be so blessed. ‘Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the earth’. Carefree. And boy do we need in the west to get a load of this. The Shuar Indians who I live with from time to time tell me that westerners are sick because of ‘fears and doubts’. This what plagues them and eventually gives rise to diseases.
As the main focus O’Neil said he went to yoga to get a cure for his arm. Many people who have MS have been practicing yoga to slow down nerve degradation to great effect. From my research believe it or not NASA the space agency in the USA saw that yoga above all sports was the best for the body and yoga is also the only sport type activity that raises your energy, life force or elan vital to better more positive levels
Another part of the documentary was how consciousness was described as flowing through the body. Many people in the west use meditation and sometimes yoga to supress emotion. I felt they could have delved into this a bit more.
Deepak Chopra made an appearance but he himself does not do the physical practice? Telling us all we are divine consciousness yada, yada, yada, well I suppose flattery will get you everywhere. But when will he ever tell us all we are essentially worm fodder and cause a good few to wake up and start living their lives not the lives other people want of them? I know, I know this won’t sell books.
The camera angles I also loved as it must have been a photographer that was shooting the footage. They were quite beautiful and something you don’t see very often. This lens eveloped everything and everyone and caught myteries subtly. This is director Heitor Dhalia’s first documentary and I hope he does more art type documentaries if this is his style. The angles are very photographic and impart all of the mood and ambiance and most importantly ‘presence’ to document the masters.
India has that presence through it’s wandering Saints, sacred land and spiritual music. You get to touch it through the medium of the documentary in places. There was no mention of Maharashi the Saint who influenced so many and who caused a lot of social shift through his student Ram Dass or Professor Richard Alpart who wrote the classic 'Be Here Now'.
There are spiritual nuggets that you will make sense to all the people who have completed our Learning to Exhale Mindfulness training and especially to all the people who were fortunate enough to attend the top up group. Many of them will be able to personally identify with what some of the master’s both male and female say about a life lived consciously as…..it’s all just a dream.....
If you wish to join us on our tour in India in November 2018 let us know soon.
Then you can touch India yourself and let her, her people,cultures and terroir touch you. You let us know your interest and can get more info from email@example.com
The curriculum for the Diploma in Mindfulness, Spirituality & Medicine is also nearly finished. More news on that in coming weeks.
Photographs C of O'Neil
Bestselling author Ralph Quinlan Forde BSc (Hons) MA is the writer and editor of the Mindful Beauty blog. His first book The Book of Tibetan Medicine went into 11 languages. His second Nutriwine has