Yoga in the Movies - Lights, Camera, Action - Yoga Practice Blog

Yoga in the Movies – Lights, Camera, Action

yoga in the moviesBy Faye Martins

Yoga in the movies and in commercials has gone mainstream. It seems that Yoga had early exposure in documentaries. The film industry has always documented society, and movie references can be counted on to legitimize cultural trends. Starting in the 1960s and moving forward to today, there have been films about Yoga and films that feature Yoga as a major plot point, showing that it has become an important part of life for many people. To catch up on how Hollywood thinks of Yoga, below are some films to watch.


Eat, Pray, Love: this 2010 film starring Julia Roberts was based on a book by the same name. The main character visits an ashram and does yoga as part of her process of self-revelation.

Yoga, Inc.: A sometimes critical look at the materialism that has become a part of the western yoga movement, this 2007 movie was made by Australian director John Philip. He primarily targets the Bikram yoga franchise, run with huge profits by Bikram Choudhury. The film does offer interviews with other teachers and concludes in a well-rounded approach that Yoga is a changing movement and while commercialism is present, it does not spoil the core values of the practice.


Yoga has also appeared in some unusual places in the film industry. The 1967 film “Easy Come Easy Go,” featured Elvis Presley in a song and dance sequence performing “Yoga Is As Yoga Does,” and he performs a hand bind during the song. There are comic scenes featuring Yoga in the recent popular movies “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” and “Meet the Fockers.” Johnny Knoxville’s shock comedy series “Jackass,” includes one segment of him attending a Yoga class with some personal issues.


Yoga in the movies has even played a role in horror and martial arts films. The 1979 film “Kung Fu vs. Yoga,” features a brave hero who must steal a ruby from a Yoga master to win his bride. During the fight scene, Yoga provides extra flexibility to the dastardly Yoga master. “Yoga Hakwon,” or “Yoga School,” a 2009 film directed by Korean director Yoon Jae Yeon features a home shopping network star who attends an intensive Yoga course promising eternal beauty to her and the other students; of course, the price to be paid is far too high. The stars actually practice Yoga and promotional photos for the film show them in a variety of asanas. There are also uncanny scenes of Yoga flow amid the horror in this movie.


Enjoy these films and the many others available, including documentaries available from independent distributors. We all look forward to Yoga in the movies performing a starring role as it gains acceptance around the world. Moving forward with Yoga and its role in entertainment, we see poses in commercials, but often notice that it could use someone who knows something about proper alignment.  With movies like “Psycho Yoga Instructor,” we experience the good, bad, and ugly of a subject getting into the movies on a regular basis.


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