Filmmaker Kate Churchill is determined to prove that yoga can transform anyone. Nick Rosen is skeptical but agrees to be her guinea pig. Kate immerses Nick in the practice and follows him around the world as he examines th... more »e good, the bad and the ugly of yoga. The two encounter celebrity yogis, true believers, kooks and world-renowned gurus. Tensions run high as Nick s transformational progress lags and Kate s plan crumbles. Ultimately, what they find is not what they are looking for.
FEATURING: B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, Norman Allen, Sharon Gannon, David Life, Gurmukh, Dharma Mitra, Cyndi Lee, Alan Finger, Rodney Yee, Beryl Bender Birch, Shyamdas, Diamond Dallas Page and many more!
DVD Features: Audio Commentary with Director Kate Churchill; Deleted Scenes; Extended Interviews with Yoga Luminaries; Photo Gallery
Q&A with Enlighten Up! director Kate Churchill and New York journalist Nick Rosen
How did the two of you come in contact with one another? Kate, where did you locate subjects for the film?
Kate Churchill: Nick and I met each other at a think tank conference. We were seated on the same panel and afterwards starting chatting about the work we were each doing. Nick was working as a journalist at the time and interested in documentary films so he sent me some of his articles to read for a possible future project. About 4 months later when the producers and I were debating how to tell this story, he became a potential subject for the film. I liked that he was a journalist, had a good sense of humor and that he was skeptical.
Nick Rosen: Yeah, it was funny because it was a conference panel I was totally unprepared for and I didn't even know I was on, and I totally faked and joked my way through it, trying to make people laugh to mask my total and utter cluelessness. And then Kate fell for it! I often wonder if I had prepared for that panel, and nobody much noticed me, whether Kate would have ever introduced herself, and later pick me for the movie. Lesson for the kids: always be unprepared.
Did the making of this documentary help you to come to terms with some of the "contradictions of yoga" that you wished to explore?
Kate Churchill: When I started making Enlighten Up! I was determined to find one teacher, or one practice that would have all of the "right answers" and help me overcome what I saw as the contradictions of yoga. Through the course of making the film, and especially during the three years editing Enlighten Up! I learned that there isn?t one teacher or a single practice that will have all the answers, and therefore everyone is going to have their own take on yoga based on what makes sense to them.
Were there any moments that were not captured on camera that you wished had been? Conversely, were there any moments that you did not want to relive when you saw the finished product?
Nick Rosen: I think Kate did a really good job of covering all the big important moments. But there were stretches of time that I was practicing yoga without the camera. There was one time when the whole yoga class was sitting cross legged in a circle listening to the teacher give some weighty lecture on Hinduism, and?oops?I farted. The whole class heard it and the teacher thought it was someone speaking up and said, "What was that, does anyone have a question?" That would have been a pretty funny scene in the movie.« less
Yoga can transform anyone is what director Kate Churchill shows us in her new film, "Enlighten Up". She, herself, is a dedicated Yoga practitioner and is out to prove to us that she is correct. Her plan is simple--find a subject, give him an immersion course in Yoga until he finds an aspect that changes him. She selects Nick Rosen as her guinea pig. Nick is a 29 year old New York journalist who is skeptical of the experiment. However, Nick is aware of the opportunity he has to take a look at the 5.7 billion dollar industry that promotes Yoga and even before he can agree to take part, he finds himself in the middle of a Yoga session and agrees to go with the experiment for six months. In his first class he meets a gentle Brazilian teacher, some true believers, some "kooks" and some celebrities. Nick finds that the more he investigates, he more he learns; he finds contradictions and he comes to the conclusion that Yoga is nothing more than a workout. He then begins to look for concrete facts as he throws off the spiritualism of the practice and he leaves what Kate had planned for him to discover. Kate manages to get him to India and he is at odds with Kate's expectations. The two continue traveling all over the world and talking to mystics, gurus, some more "kooks" as they search of the true meaning of Yoga. They don't really find the answers they seek but find much more. The film is really about two people looking for and finding happiness. Each had to let go of whatever expectations he had and be as truthful as possible and it turns out that Nick was the best teacher that Kate had ever had. This is an amazing and heartwarming little feeling that will keep you smiling long after you see it. "
Interesting and Honest
A. D. Boorman | 11/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For some reason, I feel like I should start with the conclusions:
He does not achieve enlightenment. He does not experience any great philosophical realizations. He does not become a great yogi. He does not become a lifelong yoga practitioner. I do think Yoga changed his life, but I am not sure if he would agree with me.
Kate is a documentary filmmaker. She picks Nick, an out of work journalist as her subject. The purpose is to follow Nick as he explores the world of Yoga. Nick starts out visiting several yoga studios in NYC. He spends time with Gannon and Life of Jivamukti. He travels to Santa Monica, where he works out with DDP (Diamond Dallas Page), the former professional wrestler who created YRG (Yoga for Regular Guys). He goes to India where he meets BKS Iyengar and the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He goes on to meet several Indian Yogis & Guruswho are NOT into the physical yoga, but more into the spiritual(such as devotion - Bhakti) aspects of the practice.
He asks a lot of questions and listens to the answers. I do not think he's always satisfied with the answers he gets.
He returns home.
I must admit that I was prepared to like this film before I saw it. I liked the interviews with Iyengar, Jois, Page, and all of the other Yogis in the film. I would have been very happy just to have seen that.
I enjoyed the film very much. One of the things that made it interesting was the interplay between Kate and Nick. There are some serious differences between them. Nick is looking for proof. Kate's standards are different. I think she's looking for something more 'serious,' more overtly spiritual. At first, Nick is looking for something quantifiable, but then as his inquiry takes on deeper dimensions, it becomes somewhat ineffable. I'm not sure if he ever really knows exactly what he's looking for, but somehow I think he'd know it when he finds it.
This is not as much a 're-search' film as a 'they-search' film. Nick and Kate are searching for something that is very difficult to define. Somewhere in the process they begin to realize that as they learn more, their definition of what they are searching for is changing, and it is going in somewhat different directions.
In a more scientific paradigm, a project like this was doomed to failure - the researchers aren't even sure of what they are looking for. In a more humanistic view, the project could not help but succeed - They wanted to record a human experiencing growth and change. They wanted to record the process honestly.
They were searching for a Yoga that was a vehicle for change, and they found it. They change was not what they expected, but it was nonetheless genuine.
Kate deserves a lot of credit. She shows everything. She does not hold back when this becomes frustrating, and she follows the project even when it starts to go out of control. Her honesty and courage really gave this project meaning.
Nick also deserves a lot of credit. He follows his quest where it takes him, and he is willing to put up with a lot of stuff, both physically and emotionally, to find a truth he can barely define; one that he freely admits he may not understand.
I love yoga. I teach yoga. I showed this to some of my friends who are also into yoga. Some liked it and some didn't. Most liked the interviews - patricularly with Jois and Iyengar.
Even if you don't like yoga, this is a fascinating film.
I gave this a four - as opposed to a five, for two reasons.
One, Since Kate was a part of this film, I would liked to have seen more of the discussion between her and Nick on film. She clearly is a major part of the inquiry. I would like to have heard her voicing her opinion more, and discussing what Yoga means to her - Perhaps not with Nick - I think she did not want to influence his inquiry, but just to understand her better.
The second is more material - because I would really liked to have had some more 'extras.' In particular, more of interviews with many of the Yogis and teachers shown. Some of the little pieces of Yee, Gannon and Life, etc., are really fascinating. I would have really loved to have seen more.
Still, this is a fascinating film, and if you like yoga, travel films, or just interesting movies about real people, this is a great film."
Slow and painful.
Mark Shepperson | Thailand | 04/16/2010
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I have been waiting to see Enlighten up! for a while. It was sadly not worth the wait. The movie promises us to show the benefits and spiritual growth of a newbie to Yoga on a half year intensive yoga trek.
What we get is Nick who seems to have been picked for looks rather than personality walking around in a confused state (but looking good). We are then whizzed around the New York and then the globe looking for said enlightenment via yoga. Nick's mumbling and increasingly tightlippedness seems to lead to tensions as the filmmaker tries to salvage things. Time lines get lost and there is no indication as to how much yoga is being done or where Nick is at apart from the odd 'dunno' here and there.
The real problem here is the film maker, she asks shallow questions that are answered in a 'yes' or 'no' has no real structure to the movie or the yoga practices. She parades a few old friends that have a limited grasp on reality. My favourite was in Hawaii where Nick was given a massage so rough that the point 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing' sprang to mind.
A wonderful idea of a movie is shallow and grossly flawed, in short, a watch once experience of a few interesting and colourful characters from the world of yoga but raises more question than it answers. "
Good Idea, Poorly Executed
Goldfinger | 07/01/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This movie seemed pretty interesting at the start of the film, but the plot never really goes anywhere. Without going into extreme detail, this movie never takes off because the subject of the film is just too clueless to be given the mission he is in this documentary. This movie could have been really good and useful if the subject of the film was educated enough to at least ask the right questions when given the oppritunity. Imagine a film about relativity with Einstein being interviewed by a 6th grader. The coverage of the topic wouldn't do the subject of science or the man Einstein justice,obviously not because they are not worthy. With that said, you get a peak at how out of touch average folk like the subject is with these subjects. Which I myself find interesting, that is why people can't understand certain subjects. This DVD's better that a network television show, but you won't watch more than once."
Humble Man | Santa Cruz, CA | 03/20/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a well put together film that exposes the viewer to a wide range of yoga styles and teachers. It provides several very insightful moments, and strips away a lot of the mysteries or fallacies that can cloud peoples' ideas of what "yoga" is all about. It's about connecting, and the film does a good job of showing how that can happen for many different people under different cultural circumstances. I'd have to believe that any serious (or even semi-serious) yoga practioner will enjoy it. Those unfamiliar with yoga practice are probably not going to leap into that world based on what they see here."