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Ashtanga, NY - A Yoga Documentary
Ashtanga NY - A Yoga Documentary
Actors: Willem Dafoe, Regina French, Donna Karan, Ruth Lauer, Gwyneth Paltrow
Directors: Caroline Laskow, Mary Wigmore
Genres: Documentary
NR     2004     0hr 41min

Ashtanga, NY was originally intended as a concert film celebrating the Ashtanga style of yoga, now wildly popular in the United States and around the world. It follows the aging yoga guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois as he gives h...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Willem Dafoe, Regina French, Donna Karan, Ruth Lauer, Gwyneth Paltrow
Directors: Caroline Laskow, Mary Wigmore
Creators: Ku-Ling Siegel, Mark Mann, Caroline Laskow, Mary Wigmore, Aaron Lubarsky, David Klagsbrun, Ian Rosenberg, Obie Benz
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Documentary
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/21/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 0hr 41min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Great Film!
Daniel D. Mcguire | Rockford, Ill | 10/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a lovely film. The filmmakers started to make a film about an elderly yoga teacher's visit to New York, where he would teach a workshop to hundreds of appreciative yoga students. Halfway through the month-long workshop the terrorist attack of 9/11 occured. The teacher's response to this terrible event - and the response of NY's yoga community, becomes the story.

What really sets the film apart is the total absence of New-Age Yoga Journal BS. Here is a real, living community of individuals just doing their practice, living their lives, and thinking critically, and supporting each other in a time of crisis.

Celebrity commentary and appearances of Paltrow, Beastie Boy Mike D, and Willem Dafoe, who has a particularily amazing yoga practice."
Moving documentary
Anne Decker | New Haven, CT | 12/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The brilliant pacing and sophisticated filming of this documentary only allow the humanity of the characters to come through all the more clearly and touchingly. The potential of community action (here, through the lens of a New York yoga studio and the visit of a master yoga teacher) to guide people through even the most devastating of events comes through as a major lesson of this important documentary. I recommend it to everyone, even or especially those who are not yoga practitioners. Great work!"
A fascinating account
Beth Cholette | Upstate NY USA | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ashtanga yoga is one of the most physically demanding styles of yoga; it is a precursor to the American "power" yoga which is so popular today. In 2001, the world's most revered ashtanga teacher, Pattabhi Jois, travelled to New York with his family to teach an intensive workshop to hundreds of New Yorkers, including actors Willem Dafoe and Gwyneth Paltrow. This fascinating documentary includes interviews with Dafoe and Paltrow, clips of Jois teaching, amazing demonstrations of yoga asanas (postures) by Jois' son, and glimpses into Jois' family life. All of this is set against the backdrop of the events of September 11th, which took place mid-workshop with obviously profound implications. An engrossing, moving film."
Deepened my understanding of this ancient practice
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 05/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My daughter Wini who practices Ashtanga yoga gave me this DVD to watch. She wanted me to understand exactly what it was that has challenged and inspired her so much for the past few years. Last night I watched the DVD. And I must say that I do now understand.

This is a short documentary, only 41 minutes. And yet, it managed to captivate the essence of what the practice of Ashtanga yoga is. It was shot in September of 2001, during a period of time that Sri K Pattabhi Jois, the 86-year old Indian yoga teacher affectionately know as Guruji, came to New York to hold a large group class for devotees. Every day that month, 250 of his followers practiced yoga at dawn under his watchful eye in a huge room at Chelsea piers. Yes, there were some celebrities there, namely Willem Dafoe, Gwyneth Paltrow and Beastie Boy Mike D, but I only recognized Willem Dafoe who made a comment at the beginning about his need to practice yoga to be able better function in the stimulating atmosphere of New York City.

The practice of Ashtanga yoga is intense. It requires almost daily attendance as well as extremely demanding physical exercises. But whoever practices it seems to come away with a cult-like devotion to it and a feeling of camaraderie with the people who practice it alongside each of them even if they do not know their names or who they are, and a sense of spirituality and well being.

During the period of time this documentary was being made, New York experienced the horrible attacks on 9/11. I remember the feeling of living in New York at the time. I remember the deep sense of sadness and mourning. This comes across quite clearly during a ceremony held by the yoga teacher. And the DVD certainly depicted how the devotees' practice of yoga helped the get through this terrible time.

I was fascinated throughout at this very thoughtful and reverent documentary. And although I knew that my own daughter was not in this particular film, I thought a lot of the yoga students looked a lot like her. It was probably because all of them had lithe, lean and flexible bodies.

Before I saw this film I thought I understood what Ashtanga yoga was about. But seeing it with my own eyes certainly deepened my own understanding.