Underground Yoga

Underground Yoga, with Angela Farmer and Victor van Kooten. Bill and Esther Gentile;

Most prominent yoga teachers are associated with a well-defined style, but “no style” is a style as well. If the former is mainstream yoga, the

latter is the underground stream. Two of the pioneers of this “nonschool” are Angela Farmer and Victor van Kooten.

The frame of this 55-minute film, starring Farmer and van Kooten, follows a typical group of Westerners attending a retreat with the couple at their Yoga

Hall on the Greek island of Lesvos. The action alternates between informative teaching sessions, student interviews, and glimpses of the glorious island.

You might at first find Farmer and van Kooten’s approach to be disorganized, even chaotic. Students are often shown scattered about the practice room, each

one performing a broadly defined exercise in his or her own way. Farmer and van Kooten aren’t interested in statically held asanas. The main of their

practice encourages almost continuous self-directed movement, whether expressive or subtle. As teachers, they point out possible underground paths, then

empower the student’s own innate creativity and insight to find his or her way to the “true home,” as Farmer calls it.

The DVD also includes focused instruction in six asanas and a long talk with Farmer and van Kooten regarding yoga in general, their style and teaching

method, their objective, and their message. Here are two of the most inspiring and iconoclastic teachers of modern yoga in their element—an experience

not to be missed by beginners exploring different yoga schools or seasoned practitioners who have not settled on a style.