It’d be churlish to describe a documentary about yoga and female fortitude as agitprop, so what then? Tranquiprop? Anyway, Yogawoman clearly is a fan of yoga and of women. And as it gently reminds us, these two special interests have not always been compatible. “In the Indian scriptures,” a calmly neutral Annette Bening narrates, “women were listed as obstacles to enlightenment.” The good news is how times have changed and how vigorously women have reclaimed the practice. Filmmakers Kate McIntyre Clere and Saraswati Clere gather statements from teachers and students and the occasional medical professional into a sort of passion-project infomercial, with many shots resembling greeting cards. Here we find ourselves gazing upon a beach through high grass at sunset while Bening or somebody else purrs platitudes over synth-stringy music; there we find a model going through her poses with screen text—”overstimulated,” “menstrual sequence,” “tune into yourself,” “soccer mom”—floating all around her. The movie has a few testifiers whose severity and humorlessness undercut their message. People talk of being “deeply, deeply at ease” without seeming quite at ease. On the other hand, for wounded souls who have been hurt by drugs, disease, juvenile detention, and other afflictions, yoga seems like a perfectly righteous mode of recovery.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 17, 2012