Last year, one of my favorite yoga bloggers interviewed Kate Churchill about her documentary, Enlighten Up!, which follows a newbie yoga student in a six month quest for enlightenment. At that time, she had just finished the film and it was just being submitted at film festivals. It made it's way to DC and I finally got to see it!
Her subject, Nick, is a total skeptic, and expects no transformation of any kind. He's a journalist by profession and asks many great questions about the practice of such yoga superstars as Sri Pattabhi Jois, Dharma Mittra, BKS Iyengar, Sharon Gannon and David Life, to name a few.
I don't want to give many details away, lest I spoil the film for anyone. I will say that I think it's a well made film that yogis of any level would enjoy. I think many questions that Nick and the director ask are common ones. How do you find happiness? What does asana have to do with spiritual practice? Can I do yoga and not be religious? What does it mean to be enlightened? How long does it take to get there? I must admit that it was delightful and inpsiring to see so many great teachers generously delivering insight after insight all in one small film, but if you think this film will answer those questions for you, it won't!
It was obvious that the gurus featured in the film had attained personal contentment and spiritual fulfillment. It was also apparent that they had all come to this place by individual routes, colored by their own personal experiences. Perhaps this also explains the fractured nature of yoga in the west... there is a brand of yoga for everything! The film touches on this theory, as Nick tries to puzzle out how so many different teachers can have entirely different practices and still call them all "yoga."
Watching this film as a teacher reminds me that I have to pay such careful attention to my students to meet their individual needs. Not everyone is going to take the same path. I would say that we are all seeking something greater than ourselves, but sometimes that isn't true, either. In that case, the best I can offer is a solid physical practice with the hopes that it builds the foundation for even greater growth.
Check out Cody's interview with Kate Churchill. (no spoilers!)