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On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace

A prominent New York-based photographer with five decades of experience and a portfolio studded with shots for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Fortune, Time, Life, and Vanity Fair, Michael O’Neill had done portraits of everyone from J Lo to Richard Nixon when the idea to do a series of yogis occurred to him as he was just walking out of a yoga class.

You may have seen his iconic images of Shiva Rea, John Friend, Dharma Mittra, Christy Turlington that ran in a 22-page Vanity Fair article in June 2007, just as yoga was truly coming of age in America. For O’Neill, that was only the preview.

O’Neill devoted the next decade to his labor of love, traveling frequently to India, spending time with yoga masters and gurus in both the East and the West—TKV Desikachar, BKS Iyengar, Yogi Bhajan, and everyone in between. “I did it as a bhakti, as my devotion to yoga,” he says. “I never said I like this better than that. There was no judgement. Yoga is yoga. It’s a path to consciousness. It’s a path of spirit. It’s a way of life.”

The film follows this acclaimed photographer’s journey as he deepens his understanding of the philosophy and spirituality of Yoga. O’Neill spent ten years photographing Yoga’s greatest exponents and as he travels back to India, Tibet and New York, we witness his serene encounters with them. The result is a humanist portrait of these great teachers, their immense character and their eloquent explanations of the Art of Yoga.

 
 
 

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Yoga Unveiled, Part 2: “Yoga as Therapy”

The final hour of this fascinating documentary  jumps straight to the present and examines Yoga’s growing contribution to Western medicine. Yoga therapy is revealed as a highly effective contemporary application of the millenia old healing and rejuvenating discipline. There is ample opportunity here for reflection on how we think about illness, wellness and health care.

Regarding the recent increase in Yoga research in the West, Dr. Mehmet Oz indicates that its purpose is not so much to prove that Yoga works (implying that anyone who has practiced it at any length knows that it does), but rather to translate how it works into a language mainstream physicians can understand and thereby make Yoga’s benefits available to a wider audience. 

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the eloquent champion of mindfulness in medicine, beautifully and accessibly explains the purpose and benefits of mindfulness meditation, pointing out that the realization of our true nature brings the ultimate healing from pain and suffering.

Here the work of Father Joe Pereira’s Kripa Foundation, India’s largest NGO, is documented. Though a Christian organization, Kripa uses the tools of yoga – including asana and meditation – to address problems of chemical dependency and HIV/AIDS in patients of all ages, of all social, occupational, and religious backgrounds. This is a remarkable example of yoga’s capacity to transform and enrich lives and is perhaps the most inspiring section of the entire video.

We learn how yoga impacts stress and heart disease, our own sense of limitations. We see how to love our body back to life. The body is a temple, a dwelling place of God where we can have some control over our disease, our recovery and our destiny.

Among those interviewed are Herbert Benson, M.D., Bernard Clark, M.D., Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., S. V. Karandikar, M.D., Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S., M.S., Timothy McCall, M.D., Dean Ornish, M.D., Mehmet Oz, M.D., Father Joe Pereira, and Martine Ziska, M.D. Each describes the profound positive benefits that Yoga has brought to their patients.