Hey New Yorkers, have you made it out to the theatrical premiere of Enlighten Up! yet? (sorry rest of the country, we get first dibs, neener neener).
For the cave dwellers unaware, this documentary has garnered lots of hoopla among the yoga community in its telling of a skeptic on a heart of darkness journey to find the meaning of yoga. His meaning. Kate Churchill, filmmaker and queen egger-onner leads the subject, Nick Rosen, to her own favorite gurus and then on to true yoga masters in India. The movie starts out with a brief touch on the commerciality and basic definition of yoga in the West, or the lack thereof (Cyndi Lee, Rodney Yee, Natasha Rizopoulos, Baron Baptiste, etc. all come off sounding like nitwits). Also, we see how Churchill came to the arduous casting decision – like picking the handsome, Disney hero prototype was difficult.
So we have cutie Nick Rosen, a journalist, whose father is a stern lawyer and his mother a new agey shamanic healer, thrust into yoga-nopoly non-stop for 6 months. Not only is he a yoga novice, he is adverse to any such mind-jerking philosophies aiming to alter his life and “dominate my psyche” as he puts it. As much as we Westerners like to detach yoga from religion, Nick is bombarded by “God” throughout, especially in India where we learn Bhakti yoga is the “real yoga” to Indians. Devotion is not a light word you can toss around to a non-religious person and expect them not to balk at the thought. We should know. And yes, the word cult does come up.
Many reviews seem to point out how distracting Churchill’s grating personality is, and her frustration with Nick’s failure to reach orgasmic heights of epiphany. And yes, she even admits it was she who was looking to transform. But Nick does find transformation and we see it most evident in his facial expressions as the 6 months ramble on. Really, it’s hard not to stare, you won’t miss it.
Nick’s conclusions? *possible spoilers* Bikram’s exhausting, Kundalini is “kundalooney”, BKS Iyengar is cool, he is still not a religious person, but has perhaps found what yoga means to him, even if it’s not in practice. And that’s basically the lesson learned: yoga itself has transformed, and comes to mean very different things to different people.
All in all, we enjoyed it and totally recommend you see the film. It is indeed enlightening and will have you asking yourself loads of questions, not the least of which will probably be, what is yoga? and what is yoga to me?
Norman Allen, the jolly white-bearded Pattabhi Jois protégé happened to be at our showing and told us, “I had to tell him that.” When you see the movie, you’ll know what he means!
Watch the Trailer (it’s basically the whole movie, but go see it anyway)
Also! Kate and Nick will be there in person to answer questions Fri-Sat at 6:25 and 8:25pm, Sun at 4:30 and 6:25pm. (IFCCenter.com)
See the full release schedule
And…don’t forget to read Elephant Journal’s review from a special VIP preview back in the fall (w/ tamari popcorn and beer? where did we go wrong?). Thanks Waylon! (ps. are you really friends with Nick? *blush*)