Back in 1991, while living in New York City and working as a television journalist, Suzanne Bryant took a yoga class to help counteract the stress of her daily life. Nine years later, she had enrolled in the ISHTA teacher training program, realizing that the calm and clarity the practice gave her was something she wanted to share. But it wasn’t until she learned that her mother had terminal breast cancer, and moved back to San Francisco to be with her, that yoga became more than an adjunct to her life–it became her best friend. After her mother’s death, and still carrying her immense grief, she set out to explore yoga, from its roots to its modern application, to better understand the transformative powers of this mystical practice.
Yoga Is is Bryant’s documentary of this exploration. It led her to India where she studied Ayurveda in Kerala, practiced Ashtanga Yoga with Pattabhi Jois and his daughter Saraswati, and met with Neem Karoli Baba’s son and learned about Bhakti Yoga, and back to the U.S., where she met with prominent Western yoga teachers such as Alan Finger, Shiva Rae, Dharma Mittra, Baron Baptiste, and many more; Buddhist scholar Robert Thurman; and celebrities like Russell Simmons, Christy Turlington Burns, and Michael Franti, who have embraced the practice. At the heart of the film is the earnest search to understand what this ancient system of asanas, meditations, chants, and more, can offer each of us as we navigate through our lives.
Yoga Is has screened in New York and Boulder, this week opens in San Francisco, and is slated to play in numerous other cities throughout the U.S. and the world in the coming months.