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Posts tagged ‘Yoga Documentary’


“Breath of the Gods” in London

Breath of Gods

Breath of Gods

You’ve heard us talk about this documentary . . . because we are pretty excited about it! Well good news for those of you in London. It will be released at the ICA, The Mall on February 22nd with more dates to follow. We’re still waiting to hear about release dates in the US, we’ll keep you posted. If you’ve forgotten what the documentary is about – here is a refresher:

Modern yoga, that is, the form practiced daily by tens of millions of people around the world, goes back directly to Lord 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, a story that is far less known and is where Breath of the Gods looks to explore further.

We see Krishnamacharya’s life and teachings through director Jan Schmidt-Garre’s eyes 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. He discovers the different styles and teaching methods of the yoga masters; from Pattabhi Jois he 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’.

Breath of the Gods is an eye-opening journey to the origins of modern yoga, featuring interviews with yoga legends B.K.S Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and T. K. Sribhashyam, and rare historical footage.

If you go to see it, let us know what you think about it!

Interview with Shubha Krishnamacharya

Shubha Krishnamacharya

Attending the film premiere of “Der atmende Gott” or “Breath of the Gods” in Berlin were T.K. Sribhashyam and Srishubha, son and daughter of T. Krichnamacharya. We were able to join them in a 2-hour workshop and meet with Shubha for a relaxed interview. Here are some highlights:

  • During T. Krishnamacharya’s time there was no real sense within the family that he was doing something extraordinary. Yoga was a relic of a forgotten past. He taught yoga, mostly in 1:1 sessions.  Interestingly, if Shubha was asked by her schoolmates in Mysore about her father’s profession she would say: “He is a professor in philosophy” rather than “He is a Yoga teacher”. This story is very similar to the experience of his disciple B.K.S. Iyengar (Srishubha’s uncle).  In the early years, B.K.S. Iyengar was not able to make a living by teaching yoga.  He gave between 10,000 and 15,000 demonstrations to raise awareness of yoga, which is now a mass movement. Srishubha told us, “I cannot believe this – when my father started there was nothing.”
  • “Yoga is a very personal experience, you have to do it for yourself, you have to feel what you are doing… It is not the sweating, or not sweating, (in India) it is not the physical thing we are concentrated on, we concentrate more on mental. In India it is more of a 1:1 style, I teach you once a week, and afterward you practice alone,” says Shubha. This 1:1 style is still the core of the teaching philosophy at the Krichnamacharya Yoga Mandiram centre in Chennai (one of the top centres in our new yoga book).
  • “The essence of my father’s teaching was always the coordination of movement and breath,” – today a well accepted statement in most styles of yoga. “Breath controls the mind, and asana and breathing come together. The aim is to be mentally present, not only physically.”
  • “The course you decide depends on age,” says Shubha. In India, yoga is for all ages, young and old. This is an aspect of yoga we hope will increase in the West as well.
  • “Let us make the breathing longer, so we can live longer, “ says Shubha. The lungs get better exercise which seems to be at least part of the secret as to why some yogis reach such an old age. According to some yogis we have only a fixed amount of breaths in our lives, so if we breathe longer, we live longer.
  • “Yoga is very much about concentration. The coordination of movement and awareness makes the difference.”
  • “Sweating is the result of physical exercise. Yoga is both, mind and body.”
  • “What would you say to someone as to why he should come to India to experience yoga?”
    Shubha: “My father would say it is the ‘gurukulam style’… Let us at least dream of that. It is a way of life, it is not just one or two hours of you doing yoga… My father used to do, we used to follow. He did not tell what to do. We did not do any research. Is this good, is this bad? It was a total surrender…“
  • “Why did P. Jois, Desikachar and Iyengar create different yoga styles, even if they were educated in total surrender and gurukula style?”
    Shubha:  “When it is an individual class, we close the doors. What my sister has learned is not automatically what I have learned.“ This means that the Krishnamacharya style of teaching is a 1:1 teacher/student ratio (at the absolute maximum it is 1:2 if the students are from the same family), so each student is taught yoga based on their personal needs, abilities and limitations.
  • “In India it is very uncommon to ask a question. Now it has become popular, but before not. Now I would like to ask my father many questions, and one of them would even be ‘What is yoga for you?’ ”.
Shubha Krishnamacharya

Shubha Krishnamacharya

Many thanks to Shubha Krishnamacharya for her time and for sharing with us her insightful experiences.

Documentary: “Breath of the Gods”

“Breath of the Gods – A Journey to the Origins of Modern Yoga”

German Version DVD Release: September 26th!

Breath of the Gods

From a letter by the director to an Indian friend:

“When you step onto your mat, you enter a world within the world – as the charcoal rectangle with Peter Brook. Everything that we see in my film, everything that is done in Yoga altogether, can happen on this mat.”

– Jan Schmidt-Garre

Good news for everyone who loves documentaries and yoga!
Breath of the Gods, a film about the roots of modern Yoga has come to our cinemas and is now on DVD. was invited to the Berlin premiere this past spring. It was a pleasure to watch the film and talk to Srishubha, T. Krishnamacharya’s daughter.

The German producer Jan Schmidt-Garre was inspired to make the film by two events:

1) He visited a yoga class and felt the “irresistible“ connection of body and mind.

2) He learned about the central role of T. Krishnamacharya, the “father of modern yoga,” in the development of yoga as we know it today. While Krishnamacharya himself died in 1989 at the cheerful age of 101 years, his major disciples Pattabhi Jois (Ashtanga yoga) and B.K.S. Iyengar (Iyengar Yoga) were still alive and teaching. What an amazing opportunity!

Over a period of 5 years Jan and his team visited India several times. Krishnamacharya’s son and daughter, T.K. Sribhashyam and Srishubha, became a vital part of the film which includes wonderful old footage rediscovered during production.

The German version DVD release is on September 26th and you can get it on Thanks to its success in Germany, Austria and Switzerland with over 90,000 viewers, it will also be released in English in theaters in the UK and the US this winter and out on DVD in the Spring of 2013.

For more information and to view the trailer, visit the English Version of their website or the German Version.

We say: Two Thumbs up!

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