Guruji lives here — celebrating Pattabhi Jois’ 100th birthday

I don’t have too much to tell you about this, other than to point you in a direction and say, “Stay tuned.”

But as you probably know, this month is the 100th birthday of Pattabhi Jois. And the Yoga Workshop is celebrating on July 31 with what it is describing as a “short film” commemorating his teachings as well as a discussion with Richard Freeman. Here’s from a post on its Facebook page:

Join us July 31st at the Yoga Workshop for the premier of a short film commemorating the teachings of Sri K Pattabhi Jois on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Arrive at 6:00, film at 6:30 followed by a short discussion with Richard and any Guruji stories folks would like to share. Everyone is welcome so bring a friend!

Perhaps curioser is that it links to this page: Guruji lives here.

Like I said, stay tuned for what’s to come.

Posted by Steve

This week’s mighty Hanuman movie

I think it’s charming, but it is fairly early here. Perhaps I’m not fully awake:

I especially like when Hanuman “surveys the situation” at about 19:22. He’s wise, after all, as well as strong.

It’s a good reminder to be watchful of our own situations — on and off the mat, if you want to think of it that way.

Past Hanuman posts are here.

Posted by Steve

Filmmakers crowdfunding for documentary on Vivekananda

A week ago, we pointed out that a new film is debuting in fairly wide release this month on Yogananda.

Turns out, the SRF founder isn’t the only one getting the Hollywood treatment, if you will. (Or should it be Bollywood?)

Turns out there is an Indiegogo campaign happening now for a film to explore the life of Vivekananda. There are about 11 days left.

Here’s a link to the film’s website and its Facebook page. And here is the fundraising page.

The folks behind the project do have a long way to go: They are just above $3,100 now and have targeted $90,000. (If I am right, Indiegogo still funds you even if you miss your goal, unlike Kickstarter.) Here is a little about the project from the Indiegogo page:

On 11 September 1893, exactly 121 years before the start of this campaign, an unknown 30 year old Indian monk stood up at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago and single-handedly brought about a spiritual revolution in America and around the World. Swami Vivekananda brought Yoga and the universal truths of Vedanta and Hinduism to America. This film, Vivekananda, is the untold story of this remarkable and yet almost forgotten man, and the impact he had on American history and culture.

Vivekananda: America’s First Guru is a new film by Raja Choudhury andUniversal Quest. Our mission is to create films that inspire, enlighten and motivate us to change our lives. Our research is done, the script is almost ready, we have already started filming, our team is assembled and  some amazing people have agreed to appear in our film.

And here’s the trailer:

It looks like they were hoping for a January 2015 release — not sure how that timing would work. I guess it would be quick movie magic.

Posted by Steve

Are you ready for ‘Yoga Hosers?’

A change of pace after the sad news over the past week about BKS Iyengar’s illness and passing on Wednesday.

We mentioned Kevin Smith’s rumored movie, “Yoga Hosers,” before. Now there is more news, including this from the Hollywood Reporter, which has for some reason slapped an “Exclusive” on it:

Johnny Depp and Kevin Smith are teaming up for what is being dubbed a “comic book movie,” and they’re bringing their daughters with them.

This week, Smith will start principal photography onYoga Hosers, an action-adventure movie that will star Depp, his daughter Lily-Rose Depp, and Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith.

The movie is Smith’s follow-up to Tusk, which premieres at the Toronto Film Festival in September, and is the second installment in Smith’s True North trilogy of movies that are steeped in Canadian myths and culture.


Hosers, written by Smith, centers on 15-year-old yoga nuts Colleen Collette (Lily-Rose Depp) and Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith), who have an after-school job at a Manitoba convenience store called Eh-2-Zed. When an ancient evil rises from beneath Canada’s crust and threatens their big invitation to a Grade 12 party, the Colleens join forces with a legendary man-hunter from Montreal named Guy Lapointe (Depp) to fight for their lives with, according to the producers, “all seven Chakras, one Warrior Pose at a time.”

(Other info: The Guardian, Variety and there even is a IMDB page.)

You’ve got a year or so to prepare.

Posted by Steve

Fake guru film director on ‘The Spiritual Placebo Effect’

We’ve mentioned the doucmentary “Kumare” a few times, and along with the Krishna Das doc that just premiered, it is on our non-blowing-everything-up-but-CGId films to see this summer list.

Now, the director of the move, Vikram Gandhi — yes, with a V — has a piece at the Huffington Post, tied to his movie’s release. In it, he discusses the “social experiment testing what we coined ‘The Spiritual Placebo Effect.’ Can a fake religion and religious leader have the same effect as a real one? If the facts are not real, does it make the experience any less real?”

A few excerpts:

The modern definition of yoga is convoluted as the postures yogis aspire to. Symbols, smells, words, icons, and religions of the East became an easy aesthetic for branding and marketing. Was the culture I grew up in becoming just a marketing scheme for a flourishing industry? In yoga class, was I the only one who wasn’t feeling the vibe of getting enlightened? And why were people all of a sudden bowing down to people in robes with expensive philosophies and the promises of happiness? I became skeptical of anyone who sold a spiritual product, anyone who claimed to be holier than anyone else, anyone who said they had the answer.


I’ve tried Iyengar, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Kundalini, Anusara, and met the founders, inventors, entrepreneurs, and gurus in many traditions.


It was not a matter of fooling people — everyone from the footsteps of the Himalayas to the Mexican Border believed in Kumaré. I suspect this is not because I am a great actor, but because Kumaré is a dream worth believing in. Being a fictional spiritual leader has a lot more rules than being a real a guru. No money can be earned. No temptation can be acted upon. My character only saw the highest in people, his ‘motivation’ was to make them happy — to trick people to be happy.

I’m tempted to say that the documentary is getting some decent publicity, but I suspect it is because I am paying attention to when “yoga” or “ashtanga” are in the news.

For those wavering on whether to see it, the first 10 minutes are online right here. Warning: Looks like it might cut a little painfully close to the bone for some.

Posted by Steve

New German film explores yoga’s modern roots

This movie might prove way too dry and earnest for my taste, judging by the voice over on the preview clip, but no doubt it is worth a mention.

It’s a look at yoga’s modern roots, with the obvious focus on T. Krishnamacharya. Guruji and Iyengar also feature prominently — and the movie was shot in part before Guruji passed, so there is footage of him.

Here’s the preview clip:

The director, Jan Schmidt-Garre, has a philosophy background — the Wikipedia page says he has an M. A. with a semiotic thesis on Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelung” — so I imagine that will inform the movie. He also seems to have gone to pains not to either “go native” or take an overly Eurocentric look at India.

I do like the apparent immersion that Schmidt-Garre attempts — lotus with Guruji, headstand with Iyengar.

I’m also attracted to its promise of being “pleasantly clichee-free.” We’ll see if that balances out the “earnest-filled.”

Here’s the online synopsis:

Modern yoga, that is, the form practiced daily by tens of millions of people around the world, goes back directly to the god Shiva according to Indian tradition. At the same time, however, modern yoga originated in the early 20th century, a creation of Indian savant T. Krishnamacharya (1888-1989). That story is far less known and is what this film is all about.

Krishnamacharya’s life and teachings are seen through the eyes of the director Jan Schmidt-Garre on his search for authentic yoga. His journey leads him from the legendary students and relatives of Krishnamacharya’s to the source of modern yoga, at the palace of the Maharaja of Mysore. From Pattabhi Jois Jan learns the “Sun salutation”, from Iyengar the “King of Asanas”, the headstand, and finally Sribhashyam reveals to him his father’s secret “Life Saving Yoga Session”.

The movie seems to have been released in 42 theaters in Germany. No word I can find about additional release, although the Wiki page suggests it may become available on DVD. That would seem likely enough — it’s kind of how things work at this point.

Looking at the Youtube page, it looks like Grimmly has seen this, too. Quick mention that he’s got online a lengthy asana sequence from an old Krishnamacharya book. To be honest, it’s a bit too dense for me at my stage in the practice, and advanced poses are just theory, but I’m sure it will be interesting to others.

Posted by Steve