If someone asked me to define yoga, my response would be that it’s a form of exercise involving stretching your body into impossibly difficult positions. In other words, something that I probably couldn’t do without hurting myself. Thanks to Planet Yoga, opening Friday, May 4, 2012 at AMC Yonge & Dundas, I have a greater understanding of yoga as not only a form of physical exercise, but one of a spiritual nature as well. Directed by Carlos Ferrand, Planet Yoga takes the viewer on a journey from yoga’s eastern beginnings to its impact in western culture and the various forms that yoga has taken.
The film is very informative, speaking about the different styles of yoga and interviewing various people who participate at different levels. From the most basic practitioner looking to strengthen their body, to the most devoted, traveling the world to share their expertise and open up others minds and souls. Every aspect is covered, and in great detail. There’s even a small segment featuring some of the more famous names who have embraced yoga, The Beatles and Sarah McLachlan to name two. Hearing the stories of a variety of people who have found peace in the study of yoga is as moving as it is educational, but it’s not the most important part of the film.
Occasionally, I’ll be able to enjoy a film that seems to defy explanation. If asked whether I enjoyed the film, I could honestly answer ‘yes’, but there is always something more there. That’s how Planet Yoga tends to feel. The entire documentary leaves an impression on your soul. It’s a feeling that can’t really be put into words. How can you really explain an emotion? If yoga is a step on the path to balancing your physical, mental, and spiritual health, then Planet Yoga may be a good place to start. It’s inspiring in its simple beauty and the knowledge that is contained within the 87 minute running time.
An important note, and one that is reinforced within the documentary, is that yoga is not a religion. Speaking of spirituality can result in some people tuning out. Not everyone is in search of any sort of spiritual healing or awakening, but to automatically disregard yoga with the idea that it is religiously based might cause people to miss out. A perfect example is Richelle Donigan. Featured early on in the film, Richelle avoided yoga because of the religious feeling she got from it. She wasn’t willing to bow down to anyone and didn’t feel the need to take part. After some traumatic events in her life, she decided to give yoga a try, and has now become a teacher. Once she realized that yoga was about something more personal, and not the worship of someone else, it became a large part of her life.
If you’ve ever had the slightest interest in yoga, this is a documentary you won’t want to miss. I hadn’t thought there was so much to learn about yoga. Even if it’s not something you may be interested in, the stories of people who have achieved great things and helped others in the process should inspire viewers.