- Director:Kate McIntyre Clere, Saraswati Clere
- Cast:Annette Benning
- Release Date:May 11, 2012
- Running time:84 minutes
- Film Worth:$12.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
An interesting look at the potentially transformative power of yoga for women, but one that occasionally feels a little preachy and vague.
Yogawoman is largely a talking heads documentary, intercut by interviews with yoga teachers and footage of their classes. The structure is guided by Annette Benning's regal yet placid narration, and segments of adept practitioners pulling manoeuvres. These act as chapters with abstract words strung together around the contours of the bodies on display.
The subjective argument of Yogawoman is to put into context the benefits of yoga. "It actually creates mental clarity," explains one practitioner. By taking the time to slow down, breathe and think, women can re-prioritise the bombardment of body image advertising, which promotes unrealistic expectations of themselves and feelings of inadequacy. Yogawoman claims that a resolution to their internal struggle is by combining external exercise.
The moments where it delves into Hindu philosophy of Yogis in an ivory tower, or rather, up in a mountain, aren't as profound as the real world examples. One woman who underwent treatment for cancer, found her coping with chemotherapy and its side effects was harnessed by continuing her practice of yoga. She began her own classes for women who had also suffered the disease. "When they come to a class and see other people without their wigs on, and I say that I am a survivor, there is an immediate sense of safety and community," she explains.
Other aspects covered are specialised classes for larger women, teenage girls, those in juvenile detention, pregnant women, those with a low libido, and experiencing menopause. It asks and answers interesting sociological questions, reminiscent of George Miller's Lorenzo's Oil. It shows how a habitual practice of the ritual of yoga intrinsically validates women to be accepting of themselves and of others. Frustratingly, Yogawoman gets cloudier when it wanders into theological territory as a ‘magic bullet' solution to women's issues.