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Yogawoman explores the feminine side of yoga

Created date

November 22nd, 2011

Yoga is everywhere. If there isn t a yoga studio in your hometown, chances are there will be soon. A multibillion-dollar-a-year industry, yoga is practiced by an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. and 85% of them are women. Women s command of yoga is ironic given its origins. As the opening line of the new feature documentary called Yogawoman deftly puts it, Yoga is an ancient tradition crafted over a thousand years to bring peace and enlightenment to men. As the film points out, women s participation in this ancient practice may be relatively new, but their impact has been profound. In the span of a few decades, women have revolutionized the practice, making it more relevant and more accessible.

Female yogis

Yogawomanexplores this revolution by looking at the work of committed female yogis. Even though yoga first began thousands of years ago, it still fits seamlessly into modern life, says Kate Clere McIntyre, who produced, wrote, and directed the film. Making this film, we met girls, mothers, grandmothers, CEOs, prison inmates, dying women, women living in dire poverty, and each one had found a way to make yoga work for them. Infertility, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, pregnancy, menopause, and post menopause are just some of the common life challenges yoga supports. Breast cancer survivor and yoga instructor Tari Prinster shares how the practice helped her through her treatment and recovery and how she uses yoga to help other women facing the same battle. Yoga is also making a difference for extremely large people, for teen inmates, and for children. Time after time, the point is made that the benefits of yoga are available to everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or ability. Less stress, better sleep, an increased sense of well-being, better flexibility and balance are just a few of those benefits. As Prinster says, What yoga has done for me is to slow down the aging process and maybe it s one of the secrets of yoga that it is really the fountain of youth. In one particularly moving section of the film, cameras follow Seane Corne, a national yoga celebrity, to an African village. Traveling with a contingent from her charity Off the Mat, Into the World, Corne and friends are buoyantly greeted by a group of African women who are clearly delighted to host their American visitors. They sing and dance and exchange joyful hugs with Corne and her group. The sunny jubilance of the scene is soon clouded when a conversation between Corne and one of the women reveals that every single one of the African women and their children is HIV positive. Yogawomanis narrated by Academy Award nominee Annette Bening. Yoga started in acting school for me, now it serves me in my life, says Bening, a longtime yoga advocate. I think you need yoga more as you get older. As well as being just good exercise, you re dealing with different body issues and the cycles of life. Yogawoman is available on DVD. For more information, visit yogawoman.tv. michele.harris@erickson.com

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