Last night I was fortunate to be the moderator/mediator/MC of a panel discussion following the theatrical version of an incredible documentary film called Yoga Unveiled. The panel consisted of a handful of Asheville’s yoga leaders, each of whom added an important and unique perspective to where yoga is now, and what the future of yoga might be.
The panel included seven notable yoga teachers from seven of Asheville’s yoga studios, including Lillah Schwartz of Lighten Up Yoga, Cindy Dollar of One Center Yoga, Michael Johnson of Clearlight Yoga, Cat Matlock of West Asheville Yoga Studio, Stephanie Keach of Asheville Yoga Center, Martia Rachman of Black Mountain Yoga, and Sierra Hollister of Asheville Kundalini Yoga.
Writer/Producer Gita Desai has condensed 85 hours of magnificent footage into 3 hours and 15 minutes of information-packed cinematic bliss. Her interview list features an enviable cast of yoga legends including B.K.S. Iyengar, Patabhi Jois, T.K.V. Desikachar, and Indra Devi, interwoven with a deeply studied group of Westerners like Georg Feuerstein, Patricia Walden, and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
I believe that Yoga Unveiled is a must-see for anybody serious about understanding yoga, teaching yoga, or even wanting to hold up their end of a conversation about yoga. Gita has done a tremendous job of digging deep into the roots of the yogic sciences, and seeking out those who have played a critical role in giving yoga its growing presence in our lives. I know that when I took my first class, 22 years ago, yoga was still an anomaly to daily life. Now almost everyone I know has a yoga mat. We didn’t even have mats for our evening classes with Kundalini yogi Pritpal. Morning classes were taught by his wife, who also went by the name Pritpal. My girlfriend at the time predicted I would move to Oregon and become a yoga teacher. I should have listened to her! But life had other plans for me.
Ironically I am now doing my yoga teacher training, 20 years later, in Asheville, NC, a town that is in many ways a lot like Oregon. My teacher, Lillah Schwartz, sponsored last night’s event via her yoga studio, Lighten Up. One of the things I treasure about Lillah is her intense reverence for the purity and sanctity of a healthy and educated yoga practice. Her graduating teachers go on to be some of the most effective I have ever experienced. This movie is actually a mandatory part of her teacher training program, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it become “required reading” for teacher trainings all over.
I am grateful to Lillah for creating a space for me to participate in last night’s gala, and to Gita for dedicating her energy toward manifesting such an important yogic document.
It is clear she had the support of many important figures in the yoga world, as the individuals who granted her private audience are often “unavailable” for interviews.
Yoga Unveiled is available for sale on Gita’s website along with her new movie, Raga Unveiled, which I am quite interested to see. I would encourage anyone to add these movies to their library of yogic references. Last night was the second time I’d seen Yoga Unveiled, and I learned as much or more this time as I did the first.