If your yoga practice has been feeling a little flat lately – a repetitive following of the motions – you could probably do with a bit of inspiration. And we’re not talking the kind of inspiration that involves new yoga gear or a different instructor; we’re talking inspiration that bubbles up from within, fueling your inner harmony and reinvigorating your yoga practice.
The following movies are five of our favorites, taking you on a journey full of laughter, self-exploration, spiritual awakening, and even recognition of the skepticism in all of us. See your practice – and yourself – from a different perspective, and come out feeling thoroughly enthused and ready to take your yoga to new heights.
Though the term may be unknown to you, we’re betting you’ll instantly recognize – and understand – the ideas behind Ayurveda. The sister science of yoga and an ancient tradition that’s been practiced in India for hundreds of years, Ayurveda translates the art of living into three equal values: your body, your mind and your spirit. And as you know, proper alignment of the three is a yogi’s path to optimal living, clarity and health.
Ayurveda: The Art of Being is a beautiful, inspiring and often fascinating look at the history of Ayurveda, from the very beginning through modernity. Interviews with several practitioners and followers lend something extra to Pan Nalin’s 2001 documentary, shining a bright and very human light on a practice followed by million. 102 minutes
What happens when you cross serious yoga with Hollywood-style entertainment? Something like Enlighten Up! (get it?), a 2008 documentary from Kate Churchill, a die-hard yogi who dares to ask, can yoga transform even the most skeptical?
In this fun and lighthearted film, Churchill takes Nick Rosen, the anti-yogi – a disbeliever in the power of the practice – on a worldwide exploration of beautiful places and introduction to some of yoga’s most influential teachers. There’s the time they spend with Ashtanga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and the visits with celebrity yogis, and then there are the moments when Rosen falls behind and Churchill is forced to question her belief in the transformative power of yoga. As in all things, the answers we seek are not always those we expect. 82 minutes
If your yoga practice has gone from inspired to rote repetition, you’re not alone. In the West, this is an all-too-common occurrence, yet completely understandable: yoga is often seen as mere exercise, when in reality the physical benefits are only a small piece of the overall picture.
Origins of Yoga: Quest for the Spiritual looks beyond our flexibility and fitness, diving down the spiritual rabbit hole on a quest for yoga’s inner benefits. From journeying back in time to the origins of the practice, when Himalayan sages explored the mysteries of life, to questioning the great beyond, yoga authority Georg Feuerstein, Ph.D explores the true meaning of yoga and a yogi’s quest for inner peace. 50 minutes
Breath is such an integral part of our yoga practice, and it becomes so ingrained in our every move that we can forget its importance. If you feel the need to return the intention to your breathing – or just need a bit of inspiration to breathe life into your yoga – give a chance to this short 2013 documentary from Jonathan Pears.
Why We Breathe explores a six-month period in the lives of expert yogis. Shot in locations across the United States, the filmmakers pose simple questions that often have complex answers: Why do we practice yoga? What do we like about it? What keeps us inspired? By the end of the film, your creativity will be sparked and your practice invigorated. And we bet you’ll be inspired to find your own answers to the film’s questions. 50 minutes
September 11, 2001 is a day forever cemented in human history, one of those events we all remember – a where were you when? – through our own lens. For filmmaker Albert Klein, 9/11 will be forever remembered as both a tragedy and the day his life changed forever.
After a family friend recounted his harrowing escape the World Trade Center just moments before it collapsed, Klein found himself devastated, profoundly affected by the attack and unable to focus on work or life. Desperate, he left his office midday and fled to a yoga class, hoping to somehow, “regain a sense of peace, balance and wellbeing in a world that had seemingly begun to collapse.”
Y Yoga, a 2008 documentary, is a journey – an inspiring and heartfelt collection of stories and moments in the lives of many yogis, including Klein himself. He is a relatable narrator, exploring and discussing the way that yoga changes lives. This is one of our favorite yoga films, so if you ever find yourself uninspired, your spirit uncooperative, or your practice flagging, this selection should reignite your motivation. 88 minutes
Don’t let your inspiration end at the DVD player! Take your yoga practice to entirely new places on an international yoga retreat, where spectacular sights and motivational instructors will inspire you to rediscover yourself.
Your turn: Please don’t forget to share your favorite yoga films in the comments! We are always on the hunt for new favorites.