Scandal fans know actor Tony Goldwyn as the charming leader of the free world. But with the April release of Netflix’s Chambers, the formerly buttoned-up bossman has entered full-on crystal-toting territory. As mourning father Ben Lefevre, Goldwyn leans on Kundalini breathing practices and shirtless meditations to cope with the loss of his teenage daughter, Becky. The supernatural thriller unravels the mysterious circumstances behind Becky’s death and the paranormal visions that result when another girl receives her heart in an emergency transplant. Even if bone-chilling television isn’t your thing, you may still appreciate Lefevre’s commitment to sage burning.
On Yoga: The Architecture of Peace
If you haven’t yet seen this 2017 documentary based on photographer Michael O’Neill’s book of the same name, it’s time. O’Neill’s decade-long photographic exploration into the practice styles of world-renowned yoga masters resulted in the 2015 tome, which contains 200 photographs of famed yogis such as B.K.S. Iyengar and designer Donna Karan. The film depicts O’Neill’s behind-the-lens efforts to capture a diverse array of practitioners and features appearances from commentators Deepak Chopra and Elena Brower.
See also Light on Iyengar
I am Maris
Few stories of struggling with mental health prove to be as uplifting as I am Maris: Portrait of a Young Yogi, a documentary that follows 17-year-old Maris Degener as she’s gripped by chronic anxiety and a near-fatal eating disorder. By the time she’d reached middle school, what had begun as generalized dread escalated to full-blown panic attacks, later mani-festing as cutting, purging, and other forms of self-harm. Rather than focus on the protagonist’s trauma, the film, which hit Netflix after a year on the festival circuit, thoughtfully explores Degener’s psychological, physical, and spiritual healing through yoga.
After becoming a licensed instructor at the age of 16, Degener began blogging about her journey and made national headlines for her outspoken blog posts and social media captions that aimed to destigmatize mental health issues. The doc offers an insightful peek into life in the midst of a psychological battle, and highlights the potential for beauty after pain. Bring tissues.
Q+A with Maris
Maris Degener was just 17 when she starred in I am Maris. Here, the 21-year-old vinyasa flow teacher dishes on inclusivity in the yoga community, representation in the media, and new frontiers in her post-film life.
YOGA JOURNAL: How does it feel to see the film’s message resonate with people all over the world?
Maris Degener: It felt risky to make a film about eating disorders that didn't romanticize this disease with dramatic weight-loss pictures or anything like that, and I am proud to have stood by my intentions. I believe in the film deeply, but I’m now more aware of the importance of representation than I was when the film was made. My positionality is complicated. On one hand, the film accurately paints a very privileged picture of my life: I grew up in an affluent community and I had full access to medical treatment. But it didn’t show all of me. It didn’t tell the story of my [mom's] family’s immigration from Mexico. It didn’t show me struggling with my sexuality.
YJ: How has this experience shaped your teaching?
MD: I came out as a queer person last year. Yoga is, in large part, based on satya, or living your truth. To teach this, I must be honest with myself and the world about who I am. The yoga community in the West is often very homogenous—or portrayed that way. If I can be open about who I am and how I’ve come to accept all of myself, that may help others feel safe and welcomed into the practice. It allows me to be a stronger voice for those often not represented in the community.